Tuesday, February 8, 2011


(February 1990, U.S.)

I am writing this post on the original 1990 U.S. theatrical release of the film...

I've been posting my film blogs for nearly a year now and this is only the second subtitled film I've gotten to. What can I say? The alphabet is what it is. Nothing I can do about it.

This wonderful Italian film is told largely in flashback of a successful film director Salvatore to his childhood years. It tells the story of the return to his native Sicilian village for the funeral of his old friend Alfredo, who was the projectionist at the local "Cinema Paradiso". Ultimately, Alfredo serves as a wise father figure to his young friend who only wishes the best to see him succeed, even if it means breaking his heart in the process. Seen as an example of "nostalgic postmodernism", the film intertwines sentimentality with comedy, and nostalgia with pragmaticism. It explores issues of youth, the coming of age, and reflections (in adulthood) about the past we cannot let go of. The stunning imagery in each scene can be argued to reflect Salvatore's idealised memories about his childhood. The film is also a celebration of great, classic films. As a projectionist, young Salvatore (or Toto, as he's referred to throughout the film) develops the deep passion for films that shapes his life's path in adulthood.

One element of CINEMA PARADISO I can never let go of is that wonderful, poignant ending when Toto returns to Rome after Alfredo's funeral and views the film reel he (Alfredo) had left for him. It's a moment of great joy and sentiment to watch Toto's face as he views the montage of all the spliced extractions taken from older films that depicted kissing or any other scenes that were considered unsuitable for viewing by the village priest at the time. It's not only a redemption of censorship, in my opinion, but a final gift of giving something back to one memeber of a community who had long been denied the pleasure of witnessing love and romance on the movie screen.

CINEMA PARADISO can best be described as a film of celebration. A celebration of love, life, laughter, pain, sorrow, regret and the pure joy that comes with the love of the movies. It's also a film that can be credited for reviving Italy's film industry which later produced MEDITERRANEO (1992), IL POSTINO (1996) and LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (1998).

Favorite line or dialogue:

Alfredo: "Don't come back. Don't think about us. Don't look back. Don't write. Don't give in to nostalgia. Forget us all. If you do and you come back, don't come see me. I won't let you in my house. Understand?"
Salvatore: "Thank you. For everything you've done for me."
Alfredo: "Whatever you end up doing, love it. The way you loved the projection booth when you were a little squirt."

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