Immigrants welcome here
In Elia Kazan’s 1961 epic “America, America,” a Turkish family spends the entire film fighting to make it to the U.S. — the land of promise and freedom. Then again, it’s set in the late 19th century.
“Movies are like a machine that generates empathy,” goes Roger Ebert’s famous line. The dozen or so films in “Immigrant Songs,” a series at the newly renovated Quad theater, offer plenty of it.
They’re stories of triumph, of assimilation, sometimes of strife. Some of their heroes are saintly; some, not so much. You have the Guatemalan siblings of 1983’s “El Norte,” who trek to California, where demoralizing jobs and tragedy await.
You also have the coked-up gun nut of Brian De Palma’s “Scarface.”
In between are bittersweet odes to outsiders making their way in our fine country. The Russian immigrants of Barry Levinson’s “Avalon” and
Don Bluth’s mouse-centric “An American Tail” more or less fare well, as does Eddie Murphy’s African prince in “Coming to America.”
Then there’s the German vagrant of Werner Herzog’s “Stroszek,” who finds only despair and a dancing chicken. Robert De Niro plays two very different Mafioso in “The Godfather: Part II” and “Once Upon a Time in America,” who only nab the American dream by thinking outside the box.
“The Godfather Part II”