Lamerica (1994) is one of the best films directed by Gianni Amelio. It pictures the situation of Albania in the period after the downfall of communism when chaos turned into conflicts. Not also it shows the poverty and how people would handle it, but also and mainly it depicts the way Italy uses Albania for economical gain. Between 1985 when Enver Hoxha died and 1991 when Ramiz Alia was in throne, the economy fell drastically. Students went to strike, and dropped the Famous Enver Hoxha's monument in Tirana. Because people were starving to death, there was no way out but to immigrate to a better place like Italy. Students also broke into the Italian Embassy to get political asylum, and many Albanians departed by boat. Also during these times as it was shown in the movie, Gino (Enrico Lo Verso) and Fiore (Michele Placido) take advantage of this, as they plan to purchase a shoe factory with the assistance of an unscrupulous government official. They tried to set up a fraudulent corporation that will allow them to squeeze a fortune out of Albania's economic chaos. Michele on the other hand, one of the Italian man that deserted the army in the 1940’s, becomes the pawn in a scheme concocted by the two Italian businessmen, as Gino and Fiore think that he is Albanian.
Michele a.k.a. Spiro, a political figure of fascism in Albania.
Gino and Fiore, two businessmen that wanted to sell shoes in Albania, wanted to find a stooge for the company. They chose Spiro Tozaj. In reality his name was Michele Tallarico. He represents the life that the Italian veterans in Albania had after World War II. He was in prison for the past 50 years, and after the downfall of communism he was released. His mind though was stuck in the Fascist era. While Michele travels with Gino, he sees ‘Enver Hoxha’ written in a mountain, but he actually thinks he sees ‘Duce Mussolini’, the Italian dictator back in the day.
Gianni Amelio with this could represent that these two dictators could be the same or totally different. This could be ironic, as Enver Hoxha was against Mussolini. He did not let anyone in Albania listen or speak Italian. Before Enver Hoxha, the Italian was the second language, but during communism only the Albanian language was allowed. He also thinks that he still has a family that left back home to come to Albania in the 30’s. Also at the end, while Gino and Michele were travelling by ship, Michele thinks that he is travelling to America. He was tired, but he wanted to be awake when he was going to land at New York. As New York and “Lamerica” were for Michele, so was Italy for the Albanians the land of opportunity.
Gino, an Italian businessman that became the actual immigrant, (clandestino).
As Gino was trying to find and take Michele with him, he lost everything. He lost his car, as some Albanian kids stole his car’s tires. Also he lost his passport and documents when at the end he was arrested for trespassing on a private area. It is ironic, as Gino was shown as a person that hated the Albanians, but in the end became one. The police in jail told him that no one had a passport in Albania, so he was not going to be exceptional.
The end of the movie, the reach towards ‘Lamerica’, Italy.
Gianni Amelio at the end shows how emotional and dramatic is the experience by boat. He takes extreme close-up camera shots. By showing the facial features, you can see the emotions that these people have while leaving their country. It makes the end of the movie exceptionally realistic and beautiful. As Gino became one of the immigrants on the boat, you could see him being sad. His facial expression was different from the other people in the boat. As he became the unexceptional one, it made him one of the poor Albanian people in the boat. The other immigrants’ facial expressions were different on the other hand. They were happy, as they were going to see the land of opportunity, Italy.
This movie for me was an experience of my past. I was five years old when this when on, but it kept going till 1997, and after 1991 Albanian people have embarked on those ships to reach the new world. As we knew Italian by television, it was easier for Albanians to live in Italy. At the movie though, you could also see that Albanian people thought that Italy was going to be as great as on the Italian television. They would see “Non è la Rai“ or “OK il Prezzo è Giusto” and think that living in Italy was the best thing. My family and I on the other hand had to find a better way of living. We had the chance to fill out an application and win the lottery for legal documents to live in the United States of America.
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