Top 7 Movies About Immigration

All work and no play makes the Young & Successful feel unbalanced! To rescue our overworked souls, YSN member and movie aficionado Rama Tampubolon discusses the latest hot topics and movie reviews every Thursday on Waste Time Wisely. He runs the movie review and discussion blog, Rama’s Screen, and was featured in “United 300,” which won for “Best Spoof” at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards.

If you noticed recently, there have been quite a few movies that deal with immigrants – people who travel miles and miles away just to take a taste of the United States, The Land of Opportunity.

I, as an immigrant, came all the way from Indonesia to this great nation of the United States of America for a chance at a better education and a better life. The idiots behind September 11 have made immigrants in general look bad… like we can’t be trusted. Thankfully, some filmmakers know that that’s not the case at all; there are still those of us who actually come here to work hard in order to send money to their families back home or simply to find out if the American Dream is still alive.

Now, I’m not writing this in order to tweak the current US policy toward immigrants, although one can certainly hope. I’m writing this simply to state the obvious — not all immigrants are bad — and mostly to express myself. After all, blogging is a form of speech.

The recent movie THE KITE RUNNER for example tells a tale of a father and son who had to leave a home country that was ridden by war. In America, the son grew up to be a successful novelist.

In the movie UNDER THE SAME MOON, the filmmakers emphasize the emotions and experience of immigrants. Do we find joy in leaving our families behind and work like hell everyday for a low wage? No! But we do what we have to do so that our families can do the same.

Director Tom McCarthy’s recent film THE VISITOR reminds us of how the concept of liberty has been made disadvantageous for the good immigrants who are not terrorists but are here just to make a decent, honest living.

Many movies in the past have been made about immigrants. And I’ve compiled a list of my favorites. I’m not going to include BABEL because if you’ve seen the movie then you’d know that at the end, the immigrant babysitter did not get the good end of the bargain. I’m not going to include FAR AND AWAY because I personally don’t think it was one of Director Ron Howard’s best achievements. And then there were some good ones such as SOPHIE’S CHOICE and MARIA FULL OF GRACE but I only compiled seven titles. Why seven? Because I think seven is a very good number.

So here are my Top 7 movies about Immigrants.

A story about a Mexican mother and her daughter who enters the U.S. in search of a better life. She becomes a maid for an American family. She soon realizes that it becomes more difficult to maintain her privacy and distance. And the perfect American family aren’t so perfect after all. This movie is proof that Adam Sandler CAN act and that he doesn’t have to make goofy films all the time. I like how it shows that you never know what positive impact your immigrant worker might have on your life.

Tom Hanks playing an Eastern European man with no country because when he arrives at the Kennedy Airport, his homeland is overthrown in a coup, so he has no valid passport. Stuck in the terminal for days, he makes friends with the employees there and becomes their go-to man. What I really like about this movie is not only Tom’s great performance, but its emphasis on how we should celebrate differences and learn from each other’s unique culture and personality. Everybody is a potential friend.

Eddie Murphy in his prime, at his best, way back when he was actually funny. He plays a prince from Africa who comes to America to find true love. His sidekick, played by Arsenio Hall, finds the new home despicable. Eddie wants to find a girl whom he can have conversation with, a girl who can speak her mind, a girl who doesn’t just obey him because he is an heir of a great kingdom. So in order for that to happen, he poses as a poor employee at McDowells, a fast-food restaurant. There are many reasons an immigrant would want to come to America, finding love usually isn’t the main ones.

Ah, of course. What ultimate prize that most immigrants would be very grateful to have? There are many trophies that mankind goes after… the Oscars, Olympic gold medals, and for some us… Green Card. Two simple words, yet so powerful. The story is about a man from Paris who wants a green card and an American woman who needs a husband to qualify for the green house apartment of her dreams. It’s a win-win situation, right? Until INS comes along and messes things up.

People have told me I should just marry someone for green card. Well, I’m an old-fashioned guy. As cheesy as this may sound. I still believe in the sanctity marriage. I don’t think it should be taken lightly. I believe in marriage by love alone.

It’s quite possibly the most touching and human immigrant story ever. An Irish family comes to America and everyday is a struggle both financially and emotionally because they still couldn’t get over the loss of the death of their baby son. Their hopes and dreams, however, are somehow brought to life again with the help of a dying neighbor.

Many Americans don’t appreciate what they have. They have been blessed with so much and therefore should be grateful. This one is a tear jerker, guaranteed.

One of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time. The story of Vito Corleone. His escape from death in Sicily, his arrival in Ellis Island, and his rise to power in the new world where he can make any offer he wants and nobody can refuse it. Thanks to the great Francis Ford Coppola, there’s a memorable scene where the immigrants are all on the big boat and they witness for the first time, Lady Liberty in the horizon. To some, the statue is but an ordinary thing. To many, it’s still a symbol of refuge and asylum.

An immigrant from another planet. Superman’s the only immigrant who has no trouble being accepted as one of the Americans. While everybody else has to report and file papers and hire lawyers and the process takes years, Superman just saves the day and becomes a U.S. Citizen in no time.

The thing is, not all immigrants can fly and stop a plane from crashing with his bare hands.