Golden Door Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Vincenzo Amato, Aurora Quattrocchi Director: Emanuele Crialese The film: Watching the Golden Door on a television screen doesn't do this film justice. Emanuele Crialese's epic tale of a group of Sicilian farmers' journey to a new life in America - the original title for Golden Door is Nuovomondo, Italian for 'the New World' - is an arresting masterpiece that screams out for a big-screen projection. Among the most visually arresting scenes are the opening sequence of the protagonists scaling Sicily's rugged mountain landscape, the departure scene on the quayside, the stormy and deadly passage across the Atlantic and the dehumanising depiction of the medical check-ups they're subjected to on arrival in New York. Sadly, this import DVD release is the only way Golden Door will find an audience here. On disc, the film is preceded by an introduction from Martin Scorsese: it's hardly surprising he championed the work, given how Crialese's piece ends where Scorsese films like Gangs of New York and The Departed begin: Golden Door provides the back story and social context through which America, as a land of shaped by immigration, could be understood. Crialese successfully paints the harrowing tribulations immigrants endured as they sailed to America in the 1900s: the cramped living conditions in below-deck dormitories and the fatalities a night of stormy weather could bring. Apart from an imagined river of milk - a myth perpetrated by emigres about the wealth on offer in California - the New World only appears in the form of Ellis Island, the entry-point where - from 1892 to 1954 - immigrants were put through tests that verge on eugenics over their physical and mental health before they were allowed into the country. (In one scene, an immigration official is seen explaining the rationale of the screening process in the most brusque manner: they are done to 'prevent below-average persons from mixing with our citizens'.) This last hurdle emigres were forced to negotiate before their new lives could begin is the end of Crialese's story, a painful-to-watch episode in which immigrants are patronised, humiliated or resigned to marriages with unbecoming strangers before they could pass through that 'golden door' into America. That's provided they do: many are turned back, such as the Englishwoman Lucy (Charlotte Gainsbourg, left), who is braving a second journey across the seas and attaches herself to Salvatore (Vincenzo Amato) and his family in order to elude the automatic deportation reserved for single women without a fiance awaiting them in New York. The extras: Apart from the Scorsese introduction, the only bonus feature is a half-hour making-of featurette. While incoherently put together - it's a jumble of behind-the-scenes footage, interviews (on location in Buenos Aires) and press conference material (from Venice and some other unnamed European city where the film premiered) - the piece offers a glimpse of the passion that went into the production. The verdict: A taut, engaging and visually remarkable piece and one of the best films to have emerged from European art-house cinema in recent years.