CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 15 . . . . March 29, 2002
The miseries of separation, prejudice and abject poverty contrast with boundless hope and determination in this geographically and temporally expansive film. It looks at the two great surges of Italian immigration to North America (specifically to Montreal) in the early 1900s and the post-war immigration of the 1950s and 1960s, and goes into much detail of historic Italian navigation and exploration of North America.
The viewer is shown bold-spirited Renaissance-era Mediterranean explorers such as Columbus, Vespucci, and Caboto, and invited to draw parallels between them and the unfortunate masses of "Sicilians, Neapolitans, Venetians, burdened with dreams and cardboard suitcases" mention is made of immigrants desperately wanting to believe in the old gold-paved streets view of America, only to find themselves spreading asphalt - Italian fathers remaining separated from their families for years, struggling to make ends meet. We see the fury still lingering, half a century after the War Measures Act resulted in Montreal Italians being arrested and fingerprinted when Mussolini declared war on England.
Mediterranean Forever illustrates a determination to retain much of the old country's ways, as figs, olives and grapes are grown in tiny inner city gardens, and men play bocce or drink grappa amongst themselves. The film would have done well to place much more emphasis upon modern-day contributions made to Canadian society as a whole by those with Mediterranean roots. In addition, the frequent hops from the 15th to the 20th century and back, although accompanied by gentle fade-ins and superimposing techniques, lends a distinct feeling of choppiness. A nod to Renaissance art is unfortunately not accompanied by classical Italian Renaissance music.
Recommended with reservations.
Payzant is a content editor living in Dartmouth, NS.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.