Wednesday, April 14, 2010


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.

Links and videos to be interested in.


kelco411 said...

This movie was a little difficult for me to get into, but the one thing that I did like about the film is the relationship that develops between Gino and Spiro. In the beginning of the film, Gino was very mean to the old man; he treated his very badly. Throughout the film, however, these two men who had nothing in common began to bond. I really liked the scene when Gino gives Spiro the cheese and tells him to eat. It totally reminded me of the other Gianni Amelio film we watched in class, The Keys to the House, when Gianni is trying to get his disabled son Paolo son to eat. They are very similar scenes, and I think they are trying to convey the same message. Gino had to become a sort of protecter of this old man, and in the end, he prided himself in doing that. Their connection over time became very strong, and I really liked that about the film. I think it also is great because the rest of the film is about people not getting along and a country that isn't doing so well, so to have these two men bonding in this way shows hope for everybody else. It was very touching to see this connection on screen.

Tani said...

I really liked this movie, and I feel that Gianni Amelio did an incredible job with the facial expressions. The reason being is because of I feel that a viewer who watches the facial expressions of the albanian refugees can see all the emotions and suffering that goes through those people. When you feel these types of emotion a viewer can feel empathy towards people who actually do immigrate from their countries. I think that this film tried to send a message to the viewers in Italy. Considering the diversity that is occurring in today's society in Europe, showing a film like this, could reduce racism and increase the wish for co-existance.

Cinepresa87 said...

This movie incredibly captures the disparity of the Albanian people trying to escape their glum homeland. At moments I felt a little confused following the storyline, but by the end of the film, things were clear. It was interesting to see the transformation Spiro and Gino make throughout the film, ultimately switching roles. It was sad to see how Albania, in a depressed state, was taken advantage of just like Spiro was by the fictitious businessmen trying to profit from Albania’s misfortune. As Tani said, this film sends a message of accepting differences and promoting diversity, one helping another.

Celia said...

This was an interesting movie. This is in a way similar to "Nuovomondo" in the sense of the immigration issue. Both deal with Italy and immigration, but this movie goes the other way around as showing Italy as the place to be for a better life. This can relate to current immigration going in the US, Great Britain, and other European countries. This movie not only shows foreigners seeking a better life, but also foreigners scamming to make their lives better but at other people's expense.

Jessica said...

I thought the movie was extremely informative. I lived in Italy during the mid 1990's when Alabnian immigration was very prevelant. I never realized that many Alabnians "americanzied" Italy and thought that immigrating there would bring them prosperity and stability.
At times during the film, I wans't sure what was fiction and what was actually based on facts. For example, did all Alabnians have their passports revoked? What were the implications for the Albanians that arrived in Italy without" doccumenti"?
The film really shows the importance of avoiding steriotyping and putting judgements and biases aside.

tots288 said...

I completely agree with Tani. The director and even actors did a great job to capture and show very good facial expressions. It's something that is a necessity in movies like these. The viewer has the chance to see what hard tasks there were involved in leaving your own country and to actually see others in similar situations to try to persue their own dreams. My favorite scene had to have been when they were all on the back of the truck and how they were sharing to one another their dreams when they had more opportunity.

Emirjona85 said...

Guys! I think you should watch the videos if you haven't done so. It will explain further the experience that Albanians have had with immigration and the situation back then. Thanks!

Cool Italian Pics said...

This was a tough film for me as well. Gino seemed like he wasn't going to change at all. But by th end he swallows humble pie, and is literally in the same boat as Spiro. I was unaware of this international conflict prior to this film. So for that reason, I am glad that I saw it for my own education. I do want to see more of Amelio's films, as he is a great cinematic storyteller!

Mr Hooster said...

When I look back at the film the main point that sticks out in my mind was how Gino went from being completely in control of his situation to losing it all. In the beginning he was with his partner and everything was going according to plan. Then it all went wrong. He lost the chairman, his transportation, and eventually his documents. Part of me wants to say that this is karma working its magic but at the same time I believe it represents something. Like the country falling into political and economic turmoil after the fall of communism, Gino's experience in Albania does. This may be a little far fetched but I believe there is a connection.

Whatever the case, he deserves everything that happened to him for trying to take advantage of others!