Cover Art and Menus: 7/10
The cover nicely portrays the films main focus, a man and a woman trying to make it into America, in order to find a better life. The cover has shots of both Vincenzo Amato and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who play Salvatore Mancuso and Lucy Reed respectively. At the bottom of the cover is a nice shot of the Statute of Liberty, the gateway to entering the United States.
The menus on this standard DVD are set with a beautiful backdrop of hills and fields, but they don’t add much beyond beauty to the disk.
There really isn’t much here beyond an introduction done by Martin Scorsese, and a short 20 minute making of that includes interviews with the cast and crew. Normally with a film like this the extras include perhaps a commentary, but due to the fact that this is an Italian film, perhaps a commentary just wouldn’t be appropriate. The extras were very sparse and not really all that great.
It is neat to see Scorsese get behind this Italian film, and you can easily see why. The character development and cinematography is wonderful, even if the film itself is not perfect. What Crialese attempts is quite good, and by Scorsese backing the Golden Door, perhaps the films audience will widen somewhat. His introduction is well done, and doesn’t feel trite. It is easy to see that Scorsese truly enjoyed the film, and truly believes in it.
The Movie: 6/10
This Italian film, written and directed by Emanuele Crialese, is a time capsule that relates one man’s struggle about one hundred years ago to uproot his broken family and move to what he believes is the land of opportunity; America. Salvatore Mancuso, a Sicilian farmer, is the head of his family, which includes his mother, who is, shall we say, not a bubbly sort, and his two sons, one of which is mute. Salvatore is a widower, and his family struggles in Sicily to make ends meet, but he has been reveled with stories of the richness of America, and he has convinced himself that he needs to seek his fortunes in the land of plenty.
Salvatore loads up his family, and seeks passage to America. As the thousands of Italians attempt to board one of the large ships for the week-long trip to America, Lucy Reed, an aristocratic, mysterious Englishwoman does the same. Her appearance is a stark contract to the Mancuso family. She also boards the ship, but in the third class section of the boat, which doesn’t seem to mesh with her outward appearance. Salvatore and Lucy form a somewhat strange bond, as it appears that Lucy still needs a man to truly gain entrance to America.
After the week-long, tumultuous journey, the reality that is Ellis Island presents itself as a huge obstacle to Salvatore’s dreams. The view of America that he has been clinging to is dashed as his entrance to New York teeters on the brink.
The movie itself is a very slow paced, visual journey itself. Some of the shots presented by Crialese and cinematographer Agnes Godard are simply beautiful. Crialese enjoys intermixing surreal shots that really seem to heighten the story, while also taking the time to develop characters that you really can empathize with. The only problem is that Crialese takes too much time developing the characters, which really slows this movie down considerably. Overall though this is a very enjoyable film, that perhaps is a bit unfocused as the plot seems to suffer as the film drags on. The acting was really well done, and I especially enjoyed charlotte Gainsbourg as Lucy, who turns in another stellar and quirky performance (see The Science of Sleep). Overall this was an enjoyable, if not tedious, view into the journey that was coming to America.
Video & Audio: 6/10
The video and sound were quite good on this DVD. Again, this is not a high definition DVD, but with the rich cinematography, it still looked fantastic. The DVD was presented in 16×9 widescreen. The audio was decent, and due to the fact that the film was not a shoot-em-up blockbuster, there was not a whole lot of surround sound in the film. It was mixed well, and was not noticeably lacking in any sense.
This is a good film, and therefore I would recommend it for rental, but only to those who can sit through a slow paced foreign film. There is plenty to admire here, with the amazing cinematography, and some really great acting, but overall, it just was not the type of film that I would watch over and over again. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this is an Italian language film, with English subtitles, which many (my wife included) feel takes away from the film by focusing your attention away from the movie. I didn’t think this was an issue, but I thought I would at least mention it as a forewarning.
Overall Score 6/10