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Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso) (1988)

Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso)


Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 67
Fresh: 60
Rotten: 7

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 18
Fresh: 16
Rotten: 2

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 4.4/5
User Ratings: 63,334


Movie Info

Cinema Paradiso offers a nostalgic look at films and the effect they have on a young boy who grows up in and around the title village movie theater in this Italian comedy drama that is based on the life and times of screenwriter/director Giuseppe Tornatore. The story begins in the present as a Sicilian mother pines for her estranged son, Salvatore, who left many years ago and has since become a prominent Roman film director who has taken the advice of his mentor too literally. He finally returns … More

R (for some sexuality)
Drama , Romance , Art House & International , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Giuseppe Tornatore , Peter Fernandez , Vanna Paoli
In Theaters:
Feb 18, 2003
Box Office:
Miramax Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso)

All Critics (70) | Top Critics (19) | Fresh (60) | Rotten (7) | DVD (9)

Returning to cinemas in spiffily remastered form ... the film retains its wide-eyed charm, pitched halfway between unrestrained romanticism and unknowing kitsch.

Full Review… | December 9, 2013
Time Out
Top Critic

The heightened symmetry of this new/old Cinema Paradiso makes the film a fuller experience, like an old friend haunted by the exigencies of time.

Full Review… | July 19, 2002
Seattle Times
Top Critic

In the director's cut, the film is not only a love song to the movies but it also is more fully an example of the kind of lush, all-enveloping movie experience it rhapsodizes.

Full Review… | July 19, 2002
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

The film's final hour, where nearly all the previous unseen material resides, is unconvincing soap opera that Tornatore was right to cut.

Full Review… | July 19, 2002
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic

Still rapturous after all these years, Cinema Paradiso stands as one of the great films about movie love.

July 11, 2002
Washington Post
Top Critic

This director's cut -- which adds 51 minutes -- takes a great film and turns it into a mundane soap opera.

Full Review… | June 28, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Recent changes to cinema which have seen the projectionist's art sidelined in the digital age add a further layer of poignancy to the magical memories.

Full Review… | December 16, 2013
Observer [UK]

It looks lovely and is full of classic, memorable moments, including a tear-jerking finale.

Full Review… | December 13, 2013
Daily Express

One of the most delightful and affecting of all movie endings.

Full Review… | December 12, 2013
Daily Mail [UK]

Cinema Paradiso is much loved, though I have occasionally been the man in the Bateman cartoon: the reviewer who confessed to finding Cinema Paradiso a bit sugary and the kid really annoying.

Full Review… | December 12, 2013

Tornatore may have hit a sticky wicket with his subsequent work, but he knew what he was doing here: warning us about the irrational lure of the filmed past, which is to say cinema itself, then ushering us grandly to our seats.

Full Review… | December 12, 2013
Daily Telegraph

Its confidence is staggering. And its commitment to a classic narrative that is also essentially a parable story, markedly unusual. They really don't make them like that any more.

Full Review… | December 12, 2013
Financial Times

A bald-faced act of unalloyed, weapons grade sentimentalism in which humanity is drained of anything with even a passing resemblance to a soul.

Full Review… | December 12, 2013
Little White Lies

A movie that dispenses bittersweetness, nostalgia and uplift in potent doses.

Full Review… | December 9, 2013
Total Film

Utterly irresistible, this may be a cornball celebration of the art and social history of cinema, but it's also a thoughtful memoir of more innocent days, when pleasures rarely came cheaply or instantly.

Full Review… | December 9, 2013
Empire Magazine

Charming Italian film about friendship, movies.

Full Review… | January 2, 2011
Common Sense Media

Cinema Paradiso is for anyone who loves the movies. And Tornatore's final montage of glorious movie images reaffirms the power and magic of cinema.

Full Review… | June 8, 2008


December 16, 2007

A movie lovers' delight

April 20, 2007
Atlantic City Weekly

Walking a fine line between genuinely emotional and overly sentimental, it evokes the magic of moviegoing in post-WWII Italy through the intimate bond between a young boy and his mentor-projectionist, splendidly played by Philippe Noiret.

Full Review… | November 8, 2006

Some very interesting and important differences, but as a work on its own -- too long, tedius. See the original, nicely-edited version first.

Full Review… | January 23, 2006
Hollywood Report Card

If too much charm can kill, this emotionally manipulative nostalgic love letter to cinema directed and written by the 32-year-old Giuseppe Tornatore is a killer.

Full Review… | October 24, 2005
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Tuvieron que pasar 5 años para que pudiéramos apreciar la historia original como la concibiera su creador; no obstante, prácticamente se trata de dos películas distintas.

September 17, 2004

an enchanting, sweeping look at post-WWII life, real and reel. It's set mostly in a small Italian village, but the characters, situations and changes it depicts are universal.

Full Review… | August 17, 2003
James Sanford on Film

Schmaltzy and soft, but still hard to resist, especially if you can't imagine your life without the movies.

August 17, 2003
Nick's Flick Picks

Audience Reviews for Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso)

(For the original, shorter cut)

Louis Rogers
Louis Rogers

Super Reviewer


A filmmaker's film made with love and appreciation for the art, Cinema Paradiso is a beautiful piece of cinema that's unforgettable!

paul o.
paul oh

Super Reviewer


After viewing the director's cut of Cinema Paradiso, I can understand why Giuseppe Tornatore decided to cut most of the third act -- some scenes are extremely schmaltzy and maudlin, treading dangerously close to soap opera-bad. There are other aspects I could harp on (its overly ambitious attempt to shoehorn political themes, its flowery dialogue, etc.) but sometimes a film has so much spirit and is so heartfelt that you just have to let yourself get wrapped up in it. Plus, I'm a sucker for any love letter to the cinema.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fantastic ending kissing montage. It was perfectly executed, well acted and really solidified the heart and soul of the story (the relationship between Salvatore and Alfredo). If only the rest of the film would have been as fully realized, then we'd be talking about a masterpiece.

Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer


The increasing abundance of films about films, such as The Artist, Hugo and Super 8, gives us a chance to reflect on similarly self-reflexive efforts which have come before. The best effort by far remains Peeping Tom, Michael Powell's misunderstood masterpiece which compares the art of film directing to the macabre murders of a serial killer, and paints its audience as voyeurs.

At the other end of the emotional scale, we have Cinema Paradiso, a beautiful and elegiac drama by Giuseppe Tornatore about the life of a young boy who becomes the projectionist of his local cinema. While it never quite reaches the dizzying heights of Peeping Tom, it is still a great film, a product of genuine passion and honesty which rivals 8 1/2 in its emotional peaks.

Like 8 1/2 before it, Cinema Paradiso emphasises the magical and fantastical quality of cinema. While both films have a deliberately nostalgic tone, Tornatore is more understated than Fellini: he resists throwing the kitchen sink at us in the first twenty minutes, and allows both the story and the characters to gently build over two hours (or nearly three, in the director's cut). While Fellini emphasises the technical power and self-reflexive nature of cinema, the great strength of Tornatore's film is its marriage of great characters with the celebration of a powerful medium.

When reviewing the Three Colours trilogy with his colleague Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert commented on the different approaches in European and American cinema with regard to character construction and development. American films, he argued, set up their characters very broadly with clearly defined traits and aims: we know what they are about from the outset, and since most of them conform to genre expectations, there are very few genuine surprises. European films, on the other hand, leave a lot more to the imagination of the audience: because we don't have everything laid before us, we have to think more and in doing so the process of bonding with the characters becomes more unconscious.

While Ebert's comments are a big generalisation, they do ring true with Cinema Paradiso. Like many great filmmakers, Tornatore understands that the physical traits of a character are every bit as important as their name and occupation. He creates a whole series of characters that are so distinctive and endearing that there is almost no need to give them names. There's the couple who meet and fall in love because they are the only two people not to wince at a horror movie; as the film goes on, we see them grow closer, have children and become the kind of couple we can recognise, as opposed to an impossible 'Hollywood couple'.

There are other examples of this craftsmanship, which shed light on the film's playful nature and mischievous sense of humour. We have the cinema snob who spits on the cheap seats from the balcony, only to wind up getting an ice cream sandwich thrown back in his face. There is the angry old man who threatens to make the boys into mincemeat every time they make him the butt of their practical jokes. And there is the madman who claims to own the piazza, and scampers around the town like a monkey as soon as the sun goes down.

The film's nostalgic appreciation for cinema is rooted in three key observations. The first is the importance of the cinema to a community, both as a medium for entertainment and as a physical structure at which the townsfolk can mingle and congregate. When Toto returns to his home town to attend the funeral of Alfredo, he finds the old Cinema Paradiso boarded up and falling into disrepair. The hustle and bustle of townsfolk, pouring into the piazza after the latest showing, has been replaced by a feeling of poignant desolation that almost mirrors the ending of The Passenger.

The second, following on from this, is the relationship between cinema and religion, and the way in which cinema reflects, in the words of Peter Bradshaw, both the profane and the profound. The first shot we see of Toto is of him as an altar boy, dozing through mass and forgetting when to ring the bell as the sacraments are blessed. Bored and alienated by the church, he finds in the cinema not just sanctity, but a feeling of purpose and meaning. The projection booth becomes his equivalent of confession, with Alfredo as his world-weary confessor, listening patiently to everything he says and picking him up on any wrongdoings.

There have been numerous examples of filmmakers whose interest in cinema has spiritual origins. Even Terence Davies, an avowed atheist and critic of Catholicism, has accepted in interviews that his love for cinema was in some way reflective and resultant of his experiences with religion. Cinema Paradiso has a lot of Christian imagery running through it - for instance, the lion's mouth through which the films are projected could be a reference to the Daniel in the lions' den. But the film is never afraid to blow raspberries at religion when it feels it is out of line. The priest's absurd and duplicitous objection to kissing scenes provides us with both a gentle chuckle and a very moving finale.

The third observation is rooted in the more profane act of scoring with the opposite sex. When interviewed on the BBC in 1964, Alfred Hitchcock was asked whether he made films predominantly for men or for women. Hitchcock responded women, believing that they held final say over what to see or not see: the men, he argued, went along with their choices in the hope that it might get them laid. Considering the depiction of women in many of Hitchcock's films, this observation might be considered ironic, but it does allude to the romantic pull of the big screen, both as a location and as a means of finding love.

Cinema Paradiso is rife with scenes of cinema developing (or destroying) romantic love. The most obvious of these is the romantic subplot where Toto is trying to woo a girl while keeping his job as a projectionist. Both the girl he fancies and his projection work are depicted as forbidden fruit - the former because her father will not allow it, the latter because it is not deemed altogether respectable. But there are other more profane or putrid kind of love on offer. In one deadpan tracking shot, we see a number of schoolboys watching an attractive lady on screen, and all silently masturbating in the front row.

Although the drama of Cinema Paradiso is at heart naturalistic, the film takes the time to incorporate and celebrate fantasy. One of the best scenes comes when Toto and the now-blind Alfredo are sat on a step, and the latter regales the former with a tale of a knight. The knight sought the heart of a beautiful lady, who promised to marry him if he waited under her balcony non-stop for 100 days and nights. The knight waited patiently for 99 days and nights, before finally giving up and leaving with his heart broken. Toto is taken in by the story and attempts something of that nature with his crush, but life imitates art and fantasy meets reality as he is left alone in the pouring rain, his heart bruised and a little wiser.

The performances in Cinema Paradiso are first-class, particularly from the three actors who bring Salvatore (Toto) to life. Salvatore Cascio has an impishness and inquisitiveness which is utterly believable, Marco Leonardi handles the awkwardness of adolescence very well, and Jacques Perrin is very well-cast as the worldly-worn director with mixed feelings about his past and present state. There are all beautifully complimented by Philippe Noiret as Alfredo, who resists the urge to just play a holy fool (literally blind and yet seeing) and instead gives us a memorable performance with plenty of rough edges.

Cinema Paradiso is not a perfect film. Even in its edited form, it is a little bit too long, and the final act in particular suffers from slack pacing. But this is a relatively small problem in the context of a film which has substance, brilliant characters and a heart-warming tone that will both challenge and content you. It remains Tornatore's finest and most rounded work, and one of the high points in the canon of cinema about cinema. It comes with the highest recommendation, as a film to lift your spirits and break your heart.

Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso) Quotes

Salvatore (Adult):
Progress comes too late.
– Submitted by Saurabh S (2 years ago)
I'll make mince meat out of you!
– Submitted by Chad E (3 years ago)
I choose my friends for looks, my enemies for intellegence. You're too foxy to be my friend.
– Submitted by Chad E (3 years ago)

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