“Lamerica” is an Italian drama motion picture directed by Gianni Amelio released in 1994. It is set in 1991 Albania after the fall of the communist party and years after the death of Hoxha the dictator.
The film depicts migrants fleeing Albania to Italy and the human condition of the country, showing poverty, hopes and dreams, effects of dictatorship, and clear influences of other countries into Albania.
In this essay and review, I will focus on the cinematic realities and realism of the movie, more specifically Italy’s influence on Albania, how it is apparent in the film and what it argues about.
Italy’s influence on Albania is obvious to the viewers throughout the film and from the start, showing a clip of the 1939 Italian invasion of Albania before the establishing port scene, weirdly asserting some sort of hierarchy and dominance. Many Albanians long to migrate to Italy for a better life and opportunity.
In some scenes of the movie, Italy’s influence on Albania is apparent; for example the children sitting by the fire chanting and learning Italian words, Albanians watching Italian TV in the hostel, and Albanian men talking to Gino in the Lorry heading to Naples about their admiration of Italian clothing, television, football, women and cars.
The fondness of Italy by Albanians, as a “perfect” state seems to be shared and accepted across men and even women, for example in the hostel the woman asks Gino jokingly to take the dancing prodigy to Italy to be famous on television; it creates realism and gives Italy a Hollywood or “New York” notion.
The pride of being Italian and the hierarchy of status in Albania is conveyed in the movie by showing how Albanian police treat the poor or the foreigners. For example when Gino shouts, “I’m Italian” in the police station or the bus, it shows pride of being Italian, especially in Albania.
Police usually set him free. Also arguably using Tozai and Gino creates veracity because one is Albanian and other is Italian; Gino seems desperate and annoyed by Tozai yet he helps him sometimes or vice versa. Metaphorically Italy’s response to the migration crisis.
Gianni hints some dark humor in scenes like the old lady selling shoes in the hospital after Gino asked the doctor for shoes, or showing the donkey right after Gino’s tires got stolen.The depiction of poverty is ironic sometimes indirect, yet it shows the real and critical human condition of such times in Eastern Europe.