I had only one thing in mind, one place to be...
March 26, 2016 5:11 AM   Subscribe

Here's a lovely and touching short film (14 minute) by the visual artist JR, featuring Robert De Niro. It's called Ellis. posted by flapjax at midnite (6 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The photos on the walls, and then on the floor. We are walking on their shoulders.
posted by waving at 6:08 AM on March 26, 2016

This is beautiful. The last line made me cry. As an Irish person you grow up thinking of Ellis Island as this quasi-mythical stepping stone to a new life. I don't think I've ever thought of the people who had to look at New York across the water, so near and yet so far, and yet never got to reach it. And as the article references it's hard not to also think of all the people today who are still trying to get to shore, to find home.

(It also made me really yearn for De Niro to do something good again. He has such gravitas, that voice, the expression, and it's sad that we're not getting to see him play out the last years of his career with any dignity.)
posted by billiebee at 6:08 AM on March 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Let me emphasize that the 'Companion viewing: Forgotten Ellis Island' link in the More Inside section of this post is highly recommended for historical backdrop. It's a very good documentary.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:21 AM on March 26, 2016

This reminds me of the mandatory detention Australia puts its asylum seekers in. Only a lot nicer with much more hope and a happier ending.

Beautiful. And particularly hard for Australians to watch in our current political climate.
posted by taff at 8:02 AM on March 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have lived in New York City for 28 years now. I have never been to the Statue of Liberty - but I have been to Ellis Island about five times. And will probably go more when they open up the hospital wing (which has been in ruins for a while, but I think they are restoring it). I am the daughter of several set of immigrants - from a couple English settlers on both sides of my family back in the 1620s, to an Irish family fleeing the Famine, to a Polish family who very well may have come via Ellis Island (it's either that or Boston) to my grandmother from Acadian New Brunswick. I didn't have the wisdom or the wherewithal to ask them all their stories, and Ellis Island visits remind me of how much they wanted both themselves AND me to be here.

Similar to this - one of the most powerful scenes I've seen in any film was the beginning of the movie "Brother From Another Planet." That film is about an alien humanoid, who is an escaped slave from his home planet who flees to Earth. The character is virtually mute, and is also an empath that can pick up on the emotional echoes of a person even after they've left a room. Anyway - at the beginning of the movie he crash-lands in New York Harbor and swims to the nearest shore, which happens to be the then-ruined Ellis Island. He climbs ashore and staggers inside the main processing hall and sits down on one of the benches, trying to catch his breath. But as he sits - first he hears the echo of one voice, speaking in Ukranian. Then a second voice, in Italian. A third voice in another language starts overlapping, and more and more until we can't pick out how many voices - all we can hear is that there are a lot of them, and that all the people talking are confused, worried, overwhelmed, nervous - and excited and sorrowful and scared and....and all of that noise and emotion builds and builds until it completely overwhelms him and he screams and runs, escaping all those many years of emotional echoes, diving back into the harbor to swim to Manhattan.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:32 PM on March 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yes, I remember that scene from that wonderful movie. A bit of an unfortunately overlooked movie, wasn't it? At least, that's my impression.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:48 AM on March 28, 2016

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