The film is in black and white. A ship is docking at an unknown port. Men line the rail of the vessel, looking down uncertainly at the men and women waiting along the wharf. They are smartly dressed in suits, shirts and hats redolent of the 1950s. There’s a sense of excitement, of arrival at a longed for destination. Those on board ship call down to those on shore, who smile and wave back at them. One of the men on the ship, a tough-looking guy in a light-coloured suit, consults a piece of paper; he confers with a couple of other men, apparently unsure what to do. Then, the camera – which has been roving democratically over the crowd on shore – picks out a neatly-dressed old man, in suit, hat and glasses. The young man has seen him too. His look of doubt changes to one of joyful recognition, and we see his lips move: “Papa!” He runs down the gangway; they embrace.
It’s a vivid and moving scene, filmed in a realist or documentary style, made even more effective by the fact that it is played out in silence. The ship, the crowds, the speech and the action are completely inaudible. The film is mute. Continue reading