After his family is killed, Vito Andolini travels to the United States. The wide shots and smooth, long panning of the camera through the interior of Ellis Island conveys the hectic yet systematic atmosphere of the immigration process, and Vito kind of fits somewhat strangely into this atmosphere as such a young boy on his own.
The scripting of this scene really gives it its poignance. When asked his name, Vito cannot answer, and one of the immigration officers reads his name and origin (Corleone, Sicily) off of his documentation; the other immigration officer then gives him the name of “Vito Corleone,” thereby giving birth to Vito’s new American persona, which would later become that of a powerful mafia leader, like that of Don Ciccio, the man who killed Vito’s father.
Perhaps the most powerfully scripted and shot part of this scene came when Vito was getting settled in his room, sits down, and looks out the window at the Statue of Liberty. At this point in the scene, Vito’s future as the Don becomes almost tangible, but as he’s looking out at the Statue of Liberty, he still appears so small, young, and fairly displaced.