Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso) Reviews
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.
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.
A lot of passion went into making Cinema Paradiso, there's a lot of it up on the screen; some elements are painful and some are joyful, how well one can relate to it depends on the life one has lived. Chuck Berry once said: "Everyone, if not now, someday will have been in love, or remember love, so why not write a song about that?". A love story is perhaps the most obvious way to go when writing something from the heart. The trick to this film is, the true love story is between Toto and the cinema, in spite of what we are led to believe when we are led to believe otherwise. The slightest little hook at the end of the film, and the whole tone is changed.
This is why I love movies! Perfect Movie! There's just a couple of films that I can say 10/10 but this one was purely an amazing film. The feeling throughout this film is indescribable and the end is just superb. I'm so glad I watched this film and now is one of my top ten films of all-time. Highly recommended and if you don't like it something's wrong with you!
Beginning at the end, the movie opens with Salvatore's mother trying to inform him of the death of Alfredo. Salvatore, a filmmaker who has not been home since his youth, leaves Rome immediately to attend the funeral. Through flashbacks we watch Salvatore in his youth, in a post WWII town in Southern Italy. As a young boy he is called Toto and he has a strong affinity for the cinema. Toto often sneaks into the movie theater when he shouldn't and harasses the projectionist, Alfredo, in attempts to get splices of film that are cut out by the church because they contain scenes of kissing. Toto has a younger sister and war widowed mother who often struggle due to the loss of Toto's father. Toto is banned from the movie theater by his mother when his film bits accidentally catch fire and nearly kill his sister along with burning up the only picture Toto has of his father along with other family photographs. Eventually he sneaks his way back and forms a father-son bond with Alfredo, despite Alfredo's reluctancy, Toto even learns how to run the projector. Meanwhile one of the townspeople wins the lotto and becomes a rich man. One day in the cinema, after Toto leaves to watch the movie with his friends below, the film catches fire in the projector and knocks Alfredo out. Young Toto rescues Alfredo from death in the fire, unfortunately the cinema burns down and Alfredo loses his sight. Lucky the lotto-lucky-townsman pays to have a new cinema put up. Since Toto already knows how to run the projector he works with Alfredo in the projection room. Some years pass and Salvatore is now a young man. A rich girl, Elena, comes to town and Salvatore and his friends vie for her attention. Salvatore films her and begins to fall in love. Alfredo advises him to steer clear of love because it only causes pain. Despite his warning, Salvatore confesses his love to Elena, who's reply is that she does not, but she could. So he waits, every night outside her house for her reply. One day he gives up and trudges home depressed and upset only to soon discover that Elena does love him in return. They begin a passionate romance, like that of two newlyweds. Unfortunately, Elena's father doesn't approve and so he takes Elena away. All summer they try to meet, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. On one particular day he tries to reach her and she him but their paths don't cross. As we discover later, Alfredo catches Elena and convinces her to leave Salvatore alone out of love. Salvatore then wanders without purpose and eventually joins the military due to the requirement by Italian law that all male youths serve for a period of time in the army. When he returns to his home town, all has changed and he cannot adjust. Alfredo urges him to leave and tells him that if her were to ever return, he would not see him. Obviously Salvatore goes on to become a successful filmmaker. As he wanders the remains of his town after the funeral he sees a vision of Elena just as she was when they were young; he realizes it is Elena's daughter and follows her to Elena's home where he sees that she married one of Salvatore's childhood friends, a dunce when Salvatore knew him. He confronts Elena and they meet. They talk and she reveals to him that she didn't miss out on their fateful reunion but rather that Alfredo convinced her to leave. Salvatore realizes what a role Alfredo had in shaping his life and that Alfredo knew that if he stayed with Elena he would have no chance to pursue his love of film and so by going to Rome to become a filmmaker he sacrificed his love for Elena. Salvatore and Elena say farewell and go their separate ways. Salvatore returns to Rome with a can of film left to him by Alfredo. It contains all the splices of the kissing scenes from Salvatore's youth.
It?s always satisfying when your expectations are met and exceeded with a film, as this film no doubt does and is worthy for all it's high praise. For me, there seemed at times a reminder of ? Life is Beautiful? in the natural humour sense, which of course is absolutely a compliment.
Although the ending didn't seem to be quite as fast moving, this is a film to add to one of those 'movies you must see' lists.
A filmmaker recalls his childhood, when he fell in love with the movies at his village's theater and formed a deep friendship with the theater's projectionist.
There are a handful of films, which at their core, allow us to view things in the manner reminiscent of when we were all kids, and where emotion and spontaneity are the fundamental pillars. Nuovo Cinema Paradiso allows to temporarily abandon ourselves to innocence, and at least in my case, always causes a smile to lurk up.
Some may think its portrayals of love, loss, and friendship are naive in their presentation, but it helps guide you through the persona's journey, which in certain instances resembles the emotions we go through at different points in our life. The film itself is fairly simple in its delivery, which in turn, helps the viewer identify with the characters thoughts, struggles, and emotions.
I strongly recommend this film for anyone who appreciates simplicity, and wishes to experience a film that has the ability to make you laugh, cry, think, and reminisce on the moments in our life that you will always treasure.
That is the theme of one of the most beautiful fairy tales ever portrayed on the silver screen.
The adjectives to describe such amazing story are endless, the truth is that every image and musical note open a path to culminate in one of the most exhilarating, nostalgic, tender, uplifting, colossal and everlasting gems in film history.