A FILM TO REMEMBER:
“CINEMA PARADISO” (1988)
A filmmaker recalls his childhood when falling in love with the pictures at the cinema of his home village and forms a deep friendship with the cinema’s projectionist.
If you love movies, it’s impossible not to appreciate Cinema Paradiso, Giuseppe Tornatore’s heartwarming, nostalgic look at one man’s love affair with film, and the story of a very special friendship.
Thirty – Two years ago, a nostalgic Italian film that flopped on release in its own country went on to become a worldwide hit. What was the secret of its success?
An Young boy Salvatore Di Vita discovers the perfect escape from life in his war-torn Sicilian village: the Cinema Paradiso movie house, where projectionist Alfredo instills in the boy a deep love of films. When Salvatore grows up, falls in love with a beautiful local girl and takes over as the Paradiso’s projectionist, Alfredo must convince Salvatore to leave his small town and pursue his passion for film making.
Giuseppe Tornatore photographed over 300 young Sicilian boys before he cast Salvatore Cascio as young Salvatore. The plot of Cinema Paradiso is loosely based on the story of the Protti family, who have owned a movie theatre in Mantua, Italy, since 1904. A sample of the line “Ora che ho perso la vista, ci vedo di più” in original language (in English it is “Now that I lost vision, I can see more”) can be heard in the song “Take The Time” by Dream Theater. DIRECTOR_CAMEO(Giuseppe Tornatore): working the projection machine when Salvatore watches the compilation of scenes that Alfredo made for him.
Most of Cinema Paradiso is told through flashbacks. As the film opens, we meet Salvatore (Jacques Perrin), a famous director, who has just received the news that an old friend has died. Before departing for his home village of Giancaldo the next morning to attend the funeral, he reminisces about his childhood and adolescence, thinking back to places and people he hasn’t seen for decades.
Thought about the Director’s Cut is When Cinema Paradiso was released in the late 1980s, the version seen by Italian movie-goers was much different than the cut shown to North American viewers. 51 minutes were sliced and diced from the U.S. release. The truncated edition is still a stunning, masterful production, but it leaves the audience with a nagging question: What really happened to Elena? The answer is provided in a 35-minute sequence that never made it into the 1988 American release, but which has now been restored.
Of the 51 “new” minutes of footage, most comes near the end, although several relatively inconsequential scenes have been re-inserted into the main story (one of which shows Salvatore losing his virginity). In the shorter version, Alfredo’s funeral functions as an epilogue. In the director’s cut, it’s a full third act that gives closure to Salvatore and Elena’s story and provides us with a more complete picture of Salvatore’s mentor. Rather than slowing down Cinema Paradiso‘s pace, this footage enhances the film’s poignance and power, elevating it to a loftier level than the rarified one attained by the first cut. And, viewed after this new material, the Screen Kiss montage is even more touching and transcendant.
For lovers of Cinema Paradiso, widely regarded as one of the best foreign language films ever to grace American screens, this restored version is unquestionably a “must see”. The magic and poetry of the original remain, but the added scenes fashion a different, more complete cinematic experience. For those who have never seen Tornatore’s masterpiece, this is an excellent opportunity to view it for the first time.
The final kiss montage is a way of Alfredo to keep a promise given to Salvatore at the start of the movie: Alfredo promises that all kiss scenes belong to Salvatore if he does not come anymore in the projector room. Even if he does not fulfill Alfredo’s request, he still prepares the reel for Salvatore.
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