Picks and Pans Review: Ellis Island
Anyone who has seen him act or heard him sing knows Mandy Patinkin has a natural tendency to emote. But there's another reason he sounds more involved here than your average narrator-for-hire: In 1905, his paternal grandfather entered the United States from Poland via Ellis Island in New York Harbor. In fact, according to this lovingly assembled documentary, four out of 10 Americans can trace their ancestry to people who came through the facility during the half century it served as our principal immigration station. (Closed in 1954, it was turned into a museum in 1990.)
The program excels in detailing how 13 million immigrants were processed—as many as 20,000 a day at the peak of the influx—and in sketching the human stories of some who will never forget the waiting, the worrying and the rejoicing.