Film “The Immigrant” by Katarina

“The Immigrant”


The fourth movie we watched in our English class was “The Immigrant” and this photo is taken about 10 years before the characters Ewa and Magda arrived to the Ellis Island. On this photo you can see people waiting in the Great Hall aka the Registry Room. Apparently they had just passed the first medical inspection and were waiting for another one. The immigrants, who were mostly men, were put inside the gates like kilud karbis and around them you can see guards having a close look at them. The American flag has been hung on the balcony. In the middle of the hall is a staircase. The immigrants walked up the stairs to the Registry Room, whilst doctors were watching them and looking for people who have problems with breathing, walking or just health.


Discovery of gold and gold mining

3 GOLD MAJOR FIRST GOLD RUSHES. North-Carolina, Georgia, California

1st rush in 1799 Gold discovered in North-Carolina. The finder didn’t know its value and used it as a doorstop. In 1802 it was recognized and word spread. First miners were FARMERS.

2nd rush (Georgia) in 1835 created tensions with aboriginals and resulted in the removal of Cherokee tribes from the area. Also a mint founded.

3rd rush In 1848, a gold mine in Coloma, California by J.W.Marshall. At first, tried to keep it a secret, didn’t succeed. Immigrants started flowing into California.

The construction of railroads (Union Pacific Railroad Co, Central Pacific Railroad Co)

In 1862, a Pacific Railroad Act made 2 companies start building railroads that would connect the land from West to East. In 1869 the 2 sides met in Utah. The terms included that each company got 48k dollars for each mile which forced a competition early on. The construction companies included many megalomanian businessmen who also made illegal deals for profit. The Union Pacific railroad company managed to cover 4 times as much distance as the Central Pacific one.

Industrialisation (raw materials, effect on development of economy, main industries)

Process where an agricultural economy transforms into a manufacturing one. In USA it began in the early 1800s. After the Civil War, machines replaced much of the manual work. Industrialisation grew economy rapidly thanks to more goods being produced more quickly by machines. New products such as photograph, telephone, typewriter. Many jobs in the manufactures to maximize efficiency in productivity.

Formation of trusts

Trusts are formed when several businesses come together to standardize their rules and prices in order to increase profit. Great for businesses but bad for consumers. Without trusts, companies would have to compete with each other which is not beneficial for either of them. Trusts helped to agree on rules so that no company would have to lower their prices.

The role of Andrew Carnegie

American industrialist and philanthropist. Worked in a Pittsburgh cotton factory (earning 1.20/week). Became a superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1859. Invested in iron and oil companies while working for the railroad. By 1889, he owned Carnegie Steel Corporation (largest steel company in the world). Established the Carnegie-Mellon University in 1904.

The role of John D. Rockefeller

Founder of The Standard Oil Company (SOC) in 1870. Became one of the world’s wealthiest men, major philanthropist. Born in New York, entered the oil business by investing in a Cleveland refinery. SOC controlled 90% of US refineries. In 1911, US Supreme Court ordered SOC to be dissolved, in violation of antitrust laws. During his life, he donated more than 500 million to philanthropy.

The role of Henry Ford

At the age of 16, left home for Detroit to work as a machinist. Returned home to work on the family farm. In 1891, he went with his wife to Detroit. Was hired an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company (EIC). Promoted chief engineer 2 years later. Spent many hours to build a gasoline-powered horseless carriage, or automobile. In 1896, completed the ‘’Quadricycle’’ – metal frame with 4 bicycle wheels powered by a gasoline engine. In 1902, established his Ford Motor Company. A month after, the first Ford car was assembled in Detroit (model T).

Statue of Liberty

It’s located on Libery Island in the New York harbor, USA. It commemorates the American Declaration of Independence and was a gift from the people of French. Sent to US in crates. October 28, 1886. Designed by Frederic Bartholdi. Its metal framework was built by Gustave Eiffel. igure of Libertas, a robed Roman liberty goddess.

Causes of immigration from Europe in the 19th century

Approx. 30 million immigrants traveled to US (also the first quartier of the 20th century). Three main causes were a rapid increase in population, class rule and economic modernization. Also, personal reasons- discriminations against religious and ethnic minority groups. 1820-1875- two groups- repelled from mother country and those attracted to US.

Different waves of immigration

First Wave 1790 – 1820. Groups of immigrants came for a variety of religious, political, and economic reasons. Northern and Western Europeans (English, Irish, Germans, Dutch, French, Spanish etc). Starvation, disease, and shipwreck killed 1 in 10 of those immigrants who set sail for America before they even set foot on land.

Second Wave 1820 – 1860. Immigrants came for new opportunities because in Europe, peasants displaced from agriculture and artisans were made jobless from the industrial revolution. German (escaping economic problems and seeking political freedom), British, Irish 40% (poverty and famine encouraged emigration).

Third Wave 1880 – 1914. Immigrants came over to America for more job opportunities and freedom of religion. Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian countries (migrated to the western states). In the 1910 census, foreign-born residents made up 15 percent of the U.S. population and 24 percent of the U.S. labor force.

Fourth Wave 1965 – Present. A new law that altered the selection of immigrants from the country they were from, to giving priority to people who already had family in the United States or had skills that were needed in the labor market. Europeans, Asians, Hispanics (Mexico). In the 1980s and early 1990s, Asians made up about one-third of the immigrants entering America. Hispanics made up about one-half of the number of immigrants in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Jewish immigration

Sephardic wave. The first group of Sephardic settlers arrived in New Amsterdam in 1654 from Brazil. For several decades afterward, adventurous Sephardic and Ashkenazic merchants established homes in American colonial ports. This was a departure from the Old World. London, and Recife, taxed commercial transactions, regulated Jewish publications, and punished members for lapses in individual or commercial morality.

German wave. German Jews began to come to America in significant numbers in the 1840s. Jews left Germany because of persecution, restrictive laws, economic hardship, and the failure of movements — widely supported by German Jews — advocating revolution and reform there. Some 250,000 German-speaking Jews came to America by the outbreak of World War I. If German Jews had one city of their own invention, it was Cincinnati.

Eastern European wave. Eastern European Jews began to immigrate to the United States in large numbers after 1880. Pushed out of Europe by overpopulation, oppressive legislation and poverty, they were pulled toward America by the prospect of financial and social advancement. Between 1880 – 1924, over 2 million Jews from Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Romania came to America. The immigrants found work in factories, especially in the garment industry, but also in cigar manufacturing, food production, and construction. Large-scale Jewish immigration to the United States ended in 1924.

Ellis Island

Worked from 1892 – 1954. Largest immigration station in US. Over 12 million people went through there. It was nicknamed “Island of Hope”. To get to America, immigrants went through medical and legal inspections. The requirements were: no diseases, ability to support themselves. A 15-year girl Annie Moore from Ireland was the first person there. Right now in front of the building, there is a statue of Annie.

Reed-Johnson Immigration Act of 1924

The Immigration Act of 1924 limited the number of immigrants allowed entry into the United States through a national origins quota. The quota provided immigration visas to two percent of the total number of people of each nationality in the United States as of the 1890 national census. It completely excluded immigrants from Asia. Signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge. The 1924 Immigration Act also included a provision excluding from entry any alien who by virtue of race or nationality was ineligible for citizenship.

The notion of Melting Pot vs Salad Bowl

The USA is traditionally called a melting pot because with time, generations of immigrants have melted together: they have abandoned their cultures to become totally assimilated into American society. Historically, it is often used to describe the assimilation of immigrants to the United States. But in the UK, where cultural diversity is considered a positive thing, immigrants have always been encouraged to maintain their traditions and their native language. This model of racial integration can be described as a salad bowl, with people of different cultures living in harmony, like the lettuce, tomatoes and carrots in a salad. New York City can be considered as being a “salad bowl”.

Present situation

The overall immigrant population continues to grow but at a slower rate than before. Recent immigrants are more likely to be from Asia than from Mexico, and are also more likely to have a college degree. Deportations are rising. In 2017 more than 44,5 million people in US are immigrants. 13,7 % of the whole population are immigrants.

Urbanisation (living conditions, labour unions)

The US was a predominantly rural in the 18th century. In 1790 approximately 95% of people lived outside a city. At that time only 3 cities had more than 15.000 residents. However, urbanisation exploded during the Industrial Revolution. The nation changed from an agricultural to an urbanized and industrialized one. Before the Revolution, rich people tended to live in the center of the city.

Progressive Movement: Theodore Roosevelt

The Progressive Movement, also known as Progressive Era, was a period from 1830s to 1920s. The later political movement supported equal conditions for everybody and it developed because of the socio-economic problems as a consequence to industrialization. Many progressives lived in cities and were well educated. Many problems, such as immigration, corruption, better education and the right to vote were tackled. The peak of the activism was when Theodore Roosevelt came to power as president. He was the governor of New York and he was aware of city problems, which only the government could resolve.

An American Empire (the Philippines, Cuba)

It was a Spanish-American war. The first battle was held in the Philippines. Americans knew nothing about Philippines culture or history so American military diplomacy was being carried out in the arrogant cover of almost total ignorance. In 1896, a riot against the Spanish had started in the Philippines. The rebels had adopted a constitution modeled after the American constitution. They had elected a government, including a president: Emilio Aguinaldo. Spain agreed on a truce but then tricked the Philippines so America sent their troops to help the rebels out. Rebels didn’t accept the help put the troops never left. Spain knew they were losing so they surrendered, but only to the US.

Dollar Diplomacy

Dollar Diplomacy, foreign policy created by U.S. President William Howard Taft and his secretary of state, Philander C. Knox, to ensure the financial stability of a region while protecting and extending U.S. commercial and financial interests there. It grew out of President Theodore Roosevelt’s peaceful intervention in the Dominican Republic, where U.S. loans had been exchanged for the right to choose the Dominican head of customs (the country’s major revenue source).Under the name of Dollar Diplomacy, the Taft administration engineered such a policy in Nicaragua. It upheld the overthrow of José Santos Zelaya and set up Adolfo Díaz in his place; it set up an authority of traditions; and it ensured loans to the Nicaraguan government. The hatred of the Nicaraguan individuals, however, in the long run resulted in U.S. military intervention too. Taft and Knox also attempted to promulgate Dollar Diplomacy in China, where it was even less successful, both in terms of U.S. ability to supply loans and in terms of world reaction.

Monroe Doctrine

The Monroe Doctrine was a United States policy of opposing European colonialism in the Americas beginning in 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to take control of any independent state in North or South America would be viewed as “the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.” At the same time, the doctrine noted that the U.S. would recognize and not interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries. The Doctrine was issued on December 2, 1823 at a time when nearly all Latin American colonies of Spain and Portugal had achieved, or were at the point of gaining, independence from the Portuguese and Spanish Empires. To simplify the Monroe Doctrine was a principle of US policy, originated by President James Monroe, that any intervention by external powers in the politics of the Americas is a potentially hostile act against the US.

The US in WWI

WWI began 1914, but US joined in 1917. Significant impact in the war because of joining. The additional firepower, resources and soldiers of US helped to tip the balance of the war in favor of the allies. Firstly US had a policy of neutrality, because they saw the war as a dispute between “old world powers”. Many immigrants had ties to both ends, so US didn’t really have an opinion. Germans sank the Lusitania with 159 Americans on board in 1915. Therefore the public opinion started changing. In January of 1917, the British decoded a secret telegram from German secretary Zimmerman. He wanted Mexico to ally with Germany against US.

Versailles Treaty of 1919

The Treaty of Versailles was perhaps one of the most important treaties in all of mankind, ending the Great War, or better known as World War I. Initially, it originated from President Woodrow Wilson, with his Fourteen Points Speech to the Congress on January 8, 1918. The Treaty was signed on June 28, 1919. Under the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan, Germany was held responsible for all war crimes and damages, therefore they had to pay 132 billion marks (roughly 396 billion euros in today’s economy) in reparations. This was also the cause of the hyperinflation in Germany. Most of the border territories were either given back to the original country or given as entirely new land for neighbouring countries who aided the Triple Entente (Denmark, Belgium, Poland and Lithuania).

League of Nations

The League of Nations was to be formed under the first part of the Treaty of Versailles, later officially founded at the Paris Peace Conference on January 10, 1920. There were 42 original founding members and 15 other countries who joined later on. Its primary goal was to maintain world peace, by negotiation before things got worse. Their most successful achievement was the creation of the Geneva Protocol (prohibited use of biological and chemical weapons), while their other endeavours were not able to be enacted. A lot of problems were not able to be solved because of countries not believing that they were a threat to the attackers, meaning that the League had to mostly watch from the sidelines. Even though it was Woodrow Wilson’s plan to form an intergovernmental organization to stop wars from ever happening, the US refused to join them.

Historical accuracy and opinion

“The Immigrant” was a story of a Polish woman named Ewa, who immigrated to America with her sister Magda in 1921. In Ellis Island, doctors discover that Magda has a lunge disease and she is quarantined. Bruno, an American procurer, bribes Ewa free. Ewa becomes prostitute in order to earn money to pay for Magda’s treatment and release. Comparing to the other movies this one has confused me the most whether I can call this movie historically accurate or not.

Firstly, comparing to the other movies this one has confused me the most whether I can call this movie historically accurate or not. The movie’s characters were fictional.

Neither Ewa nor Bruno has much depth and often come off as stock characters in a movie with little new to offer about the immigrant experience.

The actors try to make the story convincing but they are adrift with one clichéd scene after another.

I think that the filmmakers should have picked real people’s characters who went through Ellis Island. I mean, it was the gateway to US to about 12 million immigrants. At least one of them probably must have had an interesting story to tell. This would have made the movie much more believable and also more historically accurate.

Secondly, the main genre for the movie was drama and I have never been fond of drama movies. In addition to my disappointment I adore romantic movies but this was not a pleasing love story.

She just stood there, pure, tossed about, as two rival men watch her and scheme for her.

The only relationship that was likable was the relationship between Ewa and her sister Magda. The characters were also made rather boring.

Her character could have been 10 million times more interesting.

Ewa was shy but turned into a women who could stand up for herself. This is a very basic character development and for me it was not an interesting growth of character.

To sum up “The Immigrant, it was a rather boring movie with a historical background.

This film is not recommended.

I would not recommend watching it because I think there are better films to watch, for example “The Patriot” which I have recommended to three of my friends. However I think “The Immigrant” did not really serve its purpose, that it would show us the history.

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