Rainer's Review of Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso)
Ring the bell!
I was wondering throughout the film what all this bell ringing meant. There's a lot of it, in various different scenes, and I recognized it after a while.
It marks scenes of change, turmoil or ending, much like an audio reminder for the audience to take a mental note that this scene is either important or closes the last chapter.
Cinema Paradiso is a film about film (which is a topic I like very much) and like many films alike, it focusses on a young boy who falls in love with the medium. He's an half-orphan whose father never returned from the Russian frontier in World War 2 and whose mother is a bit overwhelmed by her grief and the difficult task to nurture and educate two young kids. She doesn't support the young Toto's decision to spend money on cinema admissions, and spend every free minute trying to bond with the cinema operator Alfredo (Philippe Noiret in an excellent performance) who first, treats him pretty hostile but later falls for the funny and bright boy.
The cinema is for Toto much more than just the films that play there. It's an escape from harsh post-war reality, in a dying town. And it's his search for a surrogate dad he hopes to find in Alfredo.
Cinema Paradiso is nostalgic, romantic and sweet as cotton candy and, in some scenes, on the edge to campiness.
But these attributes are its undeniable qualities. An uplifting and heartfelt tale about passion and friendship, about lifetime dreams come true and dreams that burst like soap bubbles.
Pretty sad but beautiful at the same time and shot with great intensity and a miraculous colour palette, Giuseppe Tornatore created a parallel film universe that feels so fictional and trivial that you'll ask yourself why you feel so deeply affected. On the other hand, instead of common Hollywood happy endings we get something way more true to life and bittersweet.
A place of fulfilled dreams and broken hopes. It's not a paradise, by far not, although the cinematography sometimes might indicate this, and I guess, that's Tornatore's biggest trick. To lure audiences into believing they're watching a familiar coming-of-age happy ending melodrama when they actually get much more.
I admit, I cried at the end, but not because of sentimentality or forced, tearwrenching romantic moments. Heck, I don't even know why I cried, and that alone would justify a high recommendation - add the superb production values and you got yourself a winner.