There are films as lovely, but none lovelier than "Cinema Paradiso," a folkloric salute to the medium itself, flickering with yesterday's innocence. This appealing and charming valentine to movies captures and conveys the enchantments, escapes, and enslavements of those who are mesmerized by films. I’d heard this movie mentioned as a ‘love letter to movie fans’ for several years before I actually sat down to watch it for myself. Cinema Paradiso is, at its core, a simple romance movie. But a wondrous and adoringly personal romance it is.
PlotYoung Salvatore is growing up in a boring little Sicilian village, and the boy quickly finds himself the most wonderful escape plan a little kid can have: the movies. Rascally old Alberto is the devoted projectionist and lifelong movie lover. Despite the well-meaning protestations of Salvatore’s mother, Alberto fans the flames of the kid’s cine-mania.
As Sal grows up his attentions turn to more…feminine pursuits, though he’s now known as the village’s new projectionist. (How Alberto loses his position is one of the film’s more bittersweet subplots.) The story is told through extended flashback, and we learn that Salvatore will one day become a world-renowned filmmaker. To mention anything else would rob you of some of the film’s richest moments; suffice to say that Cinema Paradiso is laden with wonderful moments and ideas.
AnalysisWriter and director Giuseppe Tornatore hits high stride in the presentation of Salvatore's tormenting first love affair and his return to the town as a middle-ager. The movie is born from director Giuseppe Tornatore's childhood memories. Tornatore, was inspired by loss, the realization that communal movie-going had become a thing of the past. Philippe Noiret as the projectionist gives an emotionally affecting performance as this gentle man who passes on his wisdom to a young boy. Powered by Ennio Morricone's bittersweet score, the film is an enchanting elicitation of youthful passion.
A handful of films have come close but none can touch the majesty of the sublimely satisfying "Cinema Paradiso". How can anyone view that incredible montage of screen kisses (edited out and joined together from Alfredo's years of censoring these passionate scenes for proper Catholic consumption) without having the same kind of tears well up that the adult Salvatore does? Manipulative perhaps, and nostalgic, but that's no problem with Tornatore's well-crafted tribute to the power of the cinema and a special friendship. Cinema Paradiso abounds with delights and has an emotional flow that elicits only good feelings.
Most movie lovers are certain to rate this as one of the most memorable films they've seen; it's easy to see ourselves in young Toto and recall what it is about film that we love so much. After watching it, you may feel that I have not done full justice to this movie.
Memorable Quotes :
"Alfredo: I don’t want to hear you talk anymore, I want to hear people talk about you."
"Alfredo: Now that I’m blind, I see better."
"Alfredo: Living here day by day, you think it’s the center of the world. You believe nothing will ever change. Then you leave: a year, two years. When you come back, everything’s changed. The thread’s broken. What you came to find isn’t there. What was yours is gone. You have to go away for a long time... many years... before you can come back and find your people. The land where you were born. But now, no. It’s not possible. Right now you’re blinder than I am.
Salvatore: Who said that? Gary Cooper? James Stewart? Henry Fonda? Eh?
Alfredo: No, Toto. Nobody said it. This time it’s all me. Life isn’t like in the movies. Life... is much harder."
Cinema Paradiso - Imdb