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The Immigrant (O Metanastis)
(dir: Nestoras Matsas, 1965)

The Immigrant

This “Focus on the Greek Diaspora” season at ACMI has some older films in the program, and this rare film from the mid-‘60s is worth seeing (this Saturday, 2:00 pm).  A simple, unpretentious film, it is interesting for the way it shifts tones, from irreverent black comedy to conventional drama to poignant melodrama.  This mélange should not really work, but it somehow does, the director deftly juggling and placing these modes into a satisfactory whole.

Set on an island, The Immigrant is the story of a young man, Thanasos (Alekos Alexandrakis), who leaves his homeland and goes to America, to make money to help his family back home.  He accomplishes this mission, but at a great personal cost to his health.  Weary and poor, years later, he decides to return home.  The villagers are under the illusion he is wealthy, and anticipate his return avidly.  His family and his fiancée also await.  Finally, he steps off the ship and into the arms of his loved ones, and into … a veritable maelstrom of human nature.


This film is sharp, in its presentation of the twin poles of sacrifice and exploitation.  Any small town is rife with psychoses, of course, because of the inherent insularity, but this film does not pull its punches when it comes to showing what people can do to each other, even within a blood-tie.  Thank God then for the moments of transcendental love that are also in play in the story!

© Bill Mousoulis January 2008.
This report first appeared in Neos Kosmos.