It would be more than half century before another Cornelio family member, the author of this site, took a special interest in this film. Although the film itself was restored almost 30 years after it was made, it still seemed that the viewing experience could be enhanced for family and friends. It started with the modest plan to create a DVD with appropriate menu and chapters, and perhaps some music. I requested the help of a good friend, Dr. Frank Basile (also of Sicilian roots) as we had collaborated with on other creative projects.
We set about selecting songs that we hoped would complement and distinguish the various scenes in the film, and while tastes vary, we were both surprised at the remarkable difference a musical soundtrack made for us. What had seemed a long and, at times, somewhat dull silent film became much more lively and engaging.
Something else took place as well.
Initially, I had little idea of the history of this footage, and no personal relation to the people or places shown. But while viewing it, I was struck by the connections I could make to it with my own family experience, and the Italian immigrant experience in the United States. It seemed that there was story to be told here that would mean something to more than just the residents of this particular town or the families of those who appear. At that point we really decided it was OK to edit certain shots and rearrange the order of a few sequences in order to try to create a real narrative flow.
With the edits and musical additions made, we felt we had helped “recreate” the film, regardless of the liberties taken. For example, one major change is that the scenes in Italy no longer end the film. And why should they? After all, the story the film embodies doesn’t end in Italy. The Cornelio family, as all the families pictured in the film, made their future in this country. Our hope was that this new version, including a presence on the Internet would allow the film to be enjoyed by anyone. At the same time, we recognized the significant community value, and so we created a ‘cast credits’ which compiles all the family names of those who appear.
This is their story, and their legacy as well. We hope you enjoy what we have been able to make available here. If you have enjoyed some of the clips, please leave a comment to share or a story to tell!