Cinema Paradiso (1988) Poster

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My favourite film of all time
DrLenera20 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It is by now well known that there are two versions of this film that differ greatly, the original 3 hour Italian cut and the heavily re-edited 2 hour version which was the version that charmed the world in 1989. It remains a wonderful experience, but the director's cut is so much richer, deeper, satisfying,well,everything. This review is of the director's cut which may not be the greatest film in the world but is my favourite film of all time ever since I came out of the cinema in which I first saw it in back in 1994 crying my eyes out. Never has a film effected me as emotionally as this one. Cinema Paradiso is many things- a touching story of a friendship, a wonderful portrayal of a Sicilian village, a loving tribute to the cinema, amongst other things, but the longer cut is I believe the most moving and romantic love story ever. For my money, you can forget Casablanca,Dr Zhivago,Titanic,Romeo and Juliet,etc {great as some of them are}, this is the one that does it for me.

Divided into three sections, it is the first section that was left almost intact in the short version. It is of course primarily concerned with the relationship between young Toto and the projectionist of his local cinema, Alfredo. It is full of delightful touches,such as Toto stealing a frame of film from behind Alfredo's back, or when Toto helps Alfredo during an exam so he can be allowed into the projection booth, or perhaps best and simplest of all of all Toto's spellbound face as he watches the footage that will be censored by the town priest. The cinema is portrayed as almost being the centre of life in the town Giancaldo in which the film is mostly set. The actual sequences set in the cinema are full of wonderful observation and even some belly laughs. There's the man who only goes to the cinema to sleep and is always awoken by kids, the couple who see each other for the first time because everyone else is cowering from Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, the old man who says "no, this is IMPORTANT" when everyone else "booos" the news-all human life is here, with more observations and insights than in any Mike Leigh film. This section climaxes in a scene which is simply magical, when Alfredo projects a film onto the wall of a house so everyone can see it.

As the film moves forward several years to show Toto as a 16 year old, the wonderful cinema scenes are still present. Who can forget the cinema usher telling off a group of young boys for playing with themselves while watching Brigitte Bardot and then sheepishly giving his own manhood a little touch? Director Guiseppe Tornatore also subtly reminds us of changing times, such as when television is first shown in the cinema. However, it is mainly concerned with Toto's {now called Salvatore} courtship of the girl he is in love with, Elena. No one who has experienced the pangs of first love can fail to respond to such scenes as Salvatore ranting on to Elena on the phone how much he loves her and realising he's actually been talking to her mother, or the beautiful first kiss and embrace in the projection booth {of course}.

It is in the final section, as Salvatore, now a great film director, returns to Giancaldo as a 50ish man to attend Alfredo's funeral,where the humour all but disappears {well, life gets more serious as one gets older, does it not?} and the pace does slow-be warned. It is possibly the most emotional hour of cinema ever, and was cut to about 15 mins in the short version. Salvatore's reunion with Elena, which also displays absolutely brilliant acting from Jacques Perrin and Brigitte Fossey, is so painful a sequence, as the two characters pour their hearts out to each other. As Ennio Morricone's love theme swells up {a truly heartbreaking piece of music},it ends up being one of the most beautiful love scenes ever filmed. Salvatore's reunion with his mother and his exploration of the cobwebbed, dilapidated, cinema are also extremely moving. As for the final scene, where Salvatore opens a certain gift Alfredo left him-well,there's been too many spoilers already in this review, but suffice to say it is matchless, simply matchless. It was moving in the short cut, but is three times more meaningful in the director's cut.

Cinema Paradiso has been called sentimental, but in the director's cut it is a darker, deeper kind of sentimentality. Maybe it is still "a love letter to the cinema", but it is also shows that obsessive love of something such as films can also result in sadness and regret. Think of what happens to Alfredo in the film, and as for Salvatore, well, his curse is that he has two loves in his life but success in one of them comes at the expense of the other. The uncut Cinema Paradiso is more then anything else about life and the effect of the decisions we make. O, and the greatest, most heartbreaking love story ever {have I already said this!}
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Personal Favorite
*DATo*16 May 1999
Whether you are a professional or an amateur it is always wise to avoid superlatives with regard to a movie critique ... but I cannot. 'Cinema Paradiso' is simply the finest movie I have ever seen. Like many who have posted at this site before me I have seen it many many times. It reaches within me to places other movies have never reached and I have often wondered why. Perhaps it is because of it's simplicity. It contains no expensive special effects, it has no gratuitous sex or violence, it has no "multi-millon dollar per performance" actors that I know of, it is arguable whether it even has a story line, and yet it soars far above the nonsense that film makers are producing these days. It's characters are portrayed by each and every actor in award winning style and the music is not only beautiful but absolutely perfect for this film.

It is quite simply the story of a human life and it's tragedies and triumphs within the context of a vocation. A young boy matures and gradually learns the lessons of life, cultivates his passion for the cinema, and is rewarded with professional success; however, he remains unfulfilled for true love has escaped him only to return in the form of a gift of love which transcends time, space, and death to reveal at the closing of the film Toto's one true mistress.

A staggering triumph of both the cinematic art and of story telling and yet there may be found people who do not like this movie .... I tend to keep such people at arms length and maintain a wary eye fixed upon them at all times.
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A Masterpiece
darkside200330 January 2005
I seldom watch Italian movies, (i saw it today for the first time) being Italian maybe i'm biased, but this one really stands out. A real masterpiece; i can't remember another movie so moving like this one, maybe Schindler's list; it makes you laugh and it makes you cry, yet it is so simple and straightforward. Maybe there lies its magic: no Hollywood superstars, no special effects, just pure emotions and feelings, love, fear, grief and regret, nostalgia for childhood and youth, memories of places and times that will not come back, memories of the loved ones. Some movies are there to entertain, some to scare, some to question. This movie is there to affect your feelings. Definitely to be seen.
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As Good as Movies Get
michaelsjmurphy29 November 1999
Movies can wield a strange power over those who sit in the darkened seats of a theatre. The truly great ones manipulate your perception of reality, suspend your disbelief, and ultimately either alter or affirm your view on life. NUOVO CINEMA PARADISO is just such a movie. It is the near-perfect melding of direction, acting, script, sound track, and cinematography. Phillipe Noiret and Salvatore Cascio give the kind of performances usually associated with much more recognizable actors. The supporting cast looks like they could all be full-blooded Sicilians. The location shots add depth and realism to the entire production. Ennio Morricone's music is simply the most appropriate and emotive I have ever had the pleasure to hear in a theatre. Tornatore's script and direction are a joy, a breath of fresh air.

I will not spoil this story by repeating it, nor will I give away the ending, although it matters not a whit. I could disclose fully everything in this movie, and in seeing it, all my words would evaporate. There is nothing like the experience of sitting through it, becoming engulfed by it, and in the end, being changed.
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A beautiful film about the love of movies and life
doeadear16 June 1999
I continue to be moved and deeply touched by this beautiful film from Italy, and I never tire of watching it. I share the lives of Toto and Alfredo, the small Sicilian boy, who loses his father in the second world war, and the older man who runs the projector at the local cinema. Toto lives in a world of make believe, movies, adventure. His dreams take him away from the small Sicilian village where he lives with his mother and sister. Alfredo becomes for him a surrogate father, and the movies, his paralell existence. It is a deceptively simple film, which sweeps you up and carries you along. You never want it to end. And, when it does end, it is with such heartbreaking simplicity, I cannot help being moved to tears. Young Salvatore Cascio is a marvel as the small Toto, a mischievous, impish, adorable child. Phillipe Noiret is unforgettable as the sly and heart-warming Alfredo. You grow up with Toto, until he becomes a famous film director in Rome, and returns to the small village after many years for Alfredo's funeral. It is the story of life, lost love, devotion, friendship, and family. It is unforgettable.
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A breath of fresh air blowing away the cobwebs of Hollywood "blah" films.
ali-3821 December 1998
I have seen this film at least a dozen times and each time I am carried away to a small village in Italy, where the dreams of a small boy come true and we can join his spellbinding journey. The Italian language (it is subtitled) adds to the film's beauty and music, the characters are so real you can almost smell them. I am absorbed into "Paradiso" each time I watch it, so that when it is over, I am shocked into the realisation that I haven't actually been anywhere except right there, in my theatre seat. I am not a huge "art house" film fan or indeed enjoy subtitled films (it is hard on the old eyes!) but "Paradiso" is a gem and is worth seeing again and again.
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Profoundly important movie
davspin25 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Cinema Paradiso is a profoundly important movie because it deals with identifiable emotions/issues that could be considered universal on so many levels. The entire story is retrospective similar to Fellini's style as well as a love story that pulls in the viewer on an emotional level. The film also attempts to expose an inkling of Sicilian life, language,(different from Italian) and how "history" has intruded upon and shaped the mentality of the Sicilian people; to also show that traditional concepts of what is "moral" or right is not to be taken for granted because of the people and their particular history. For those who do not fancy history or non-fiction, the film attempts to educate the "outsider" not familiar with Sicilian history as it pertains to the WWII era. I watch it again and again and see more and more details that pertain to the story. I did see it on the big screen at a local theater back in 1991 and it was a hit with the audience. I have several scenerio that I think could make it more interesting and am very curious about the uncut version and what is different about it. Finally, the movie does make me cry because it is after all a love story and it is clear at the end that Toto (aka Salvatore)is still in love with Elena and that is why he never married or settled down " love one person. . . " as his mother says to him after his 30 year absence from home. The final scene of the credits also shows him looking at Elena again and the look on his face is telling. This film has many little "hints" that serve to inform the viewer and give just a little more info. about the story. Truly, one of the best films I have ever seen !!! These characters come alive and we feel like we know them--personally. Viva Giuseppe Tornatore for his masterpiece!
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preppy-31 July 2002
This 1988 Italian film (released in the US in 1990), is back with a full 51 minutes added on. This seemed like a stupid idea...there was nothing wrong with the original. The directors cut (which was 1/2 hour longer) was considered a mess. Also, for this release, an extra 1/2 hour was added! I expected the worse. Well, I was pleasantly surprised that this 3 hour version is better than the 2 hour one.

This story follows the life of Salvatore. He's born in a tiny Italian village and we see him as a little boy in the 1930s, an adolescent in the 40s-50s and an adult in the 80s. It basically is about his love of movies and the one true love of his life--Elena. They are in love but she comes from a rich family and he lives in poverty. How can they be together?


The cut movie in the US excised a lot of the Elena subplot and concentrated on Salvatore's love of movies. There's nothing wrong with that, but Elena disappears quite suddenly. This full version explains what happened between them and fleshes out the characters more. It also reveals a crucial surprise at the end.

The performances are all fantastic--especially by the gorgeous young actor playing Salvatore as a teenager. Elena is also stunning. The film has beautiful cinematography and a haunting music score. The 3 hours flew by for me. I didn't want it to end!

So...beautiful music, attractive stars, good acting, compelling story and some incredible romantic sequences. A must-see!!!!

Bring plenty of Kleenex though--I cried a least 5 times!
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The Loves Of 'Toto' Beautifully Told
ccthemovieman-121 March 2006
After seeing this special edition DVD which shows the entire 174-minute film (in addition to the 121-minute one that most of us had seen over the years,) my rating of this film was elevated. This review is of the longer "director's cut."

Most of the new footage involved the main's character's romance while he was a young man. The story then is continued years later when that character comes back to his hometown for a funeral and runs into the woman he was in love with but never was able to get for his own. It turns out to be a somewhat tragic love story.

The first part of the film, with Salvatore Cascio as "Toto" a young boy is a love story about two people sharing their love of movies: the kid and an adult "Alfredo" (Phillpe Noiret) who runs the local movie theater. Their love of film bonds them for life.

The word "love" is used repeatedly in this review because that's the dominant theme: the love people had for others and for the world of film, something all of us on this website share.

The second and third parts of the film are the above-mentioned love story of Toto (Marco Leonardi as an adolescent and then Jacques Perrin as an adult) and "Elena" (Agnese Nano/ Brigitte Fossey). The first third of this director;s cut edition is much livelier and interesting, frankly, than the last two-thirds. Although not boring, it does drag in a few spots but the longer version is better in the long run because it makes the whole story much more meaningful.

It's very nicely filmed and you get a real feel for the Italian people and their little town. The director of the movie, Giuseppe Tornatore, went on to make other great visual films, two of which I also like: Malena and The Star Maker.....but Cinema Paradiso, I believe, is considered his "masterpiece."
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Every Filmmaker's Favorite Film
caspian197812 February 2005
Giuseppe Tornatore's Nuovo cinema Paradiso (Cinema Paradiso) is everything good about the movies. It is a story about love. The love between a Father and Son, an Individual and his home, and the love for the movies. Even if this is not your favorite film, if you are a filmmaker, you have no choice but to say this is your all time favorite film (if not one of the greatest films ever made). If only for the movie's ending, this is a great film. The ending answers all of your questions and completes the story. The missing love from a Man's life. The missing pieces to all the stories (movies) found and made into a whole. The final message from beyond the grave, the ending is perfect. If the musical score doesn't put you in tears, the amazing visuals will push you over the edge. This is what all movies should be about. Terrific.
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For Those With a Heart
Boyo-24 October 1999
This movie is very sentimental, so if you are proud of your cynical side, stay away.

If you are scared of foreign movies and start foaming at the mouth at a subtitle, stay away.

For the rest of us, this is a masterpiece! Enjoy the movie and enjoy yourself! The end is so beautiful that it is almost unbelievable.
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Great movie.. with excellent background.
phaneendrakumar5 February 2005
This movie definitely is one of my all time best movies. Director Giuseppe Tornatore placed himself in the list of the best directors. The usage of an excellent background score is a trademark of his movies and this movie is not at all a different case.

He is also a master in getting best performances out of children and adolescents. Marco Leonardi was the pick of the whole cast. Also watch Melena for those trademarks of Tornatore.

The character of Alfredo is one of the most unforgettable characters. The way emotions captured in a camera is way beyond naturality.

Overall, this is a great movie with ultimate teamwork with everyone contributing. I just loved the movie very much.
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Sometimes less is more: Don't watch the uncut version first!
Doriano2 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't seen this classic yet...ok? Don't read this review if you haven't seen at least one version of Cinema Paradiso.

First of all, I was born in Italy, so I was extremely proud when Cinema Paradiso won the Oscar for best foreign film as well as the hearts of all movie goers when it was released. Also, I am a hopeless romantic who absolutely adores movies! So this movie was right up my alley on many levels!

I saw the shorter version as most of us did when it came out in the US, and only recently saw the full uncut Director's version. It is one of my all-time favorite movies ever--and still is--but I must admit that I did not experience near the same magic or euphoria that the shorter original version gave me many moons ago! Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the extra 51 minutes because I wanted MORE of a great thing, but as the old saying goes, sometimes less is more! Nothing, I repeat, nothing can match the power of the imagination and thus there in lies the magic and the power of the shorter version! By cutting out the extra scenes, we, the audience, were all left up to our own devices and forced to fill in the blanks ourselves with our imagination and our heart! By seeing everything the way we do in the full blown version, well, despite how sweet it was, it left something to be desired. I enjoyed the reunion (al though the whole flashing light effect grew VERY tiresome after awhile) but I could have done without it.

Also, the thing that has been eating away at me is the whole question about why in the world Alfredo would (or could!) interfere with his supposed adopted son's first true love! Sure, I've been trying to come up with angles and reasons for his insanely cruel action, but nothing will convince me that the writer/director simply screwed up and should not have made the character do such a dastardly deed! Period! I loved the whole notion that he loved his "son" so much that he forced him to leave town and made him promise never to come back again...because we all knew that Alfredo was right...the only way Toto was going to achieve his dream was by leaving their small town and son of a gun if Fredo wasn't right! However....for him to be the main reason for the breakup of Toto's great love spoils the whole story. I will never watch this version again. I bought the DVD and pray that the original shorter verson that I saw and fell in love with is on the DVD!!!

P.S. Some of my all-time favorite scenes come from this movie: The kiss in the rain (which is the cover on the DVD!) The dialogue where Alfredo tells Toto "I don't want to hear you talk anymore. I want to hear people talking about you!" The montague at the end of all the kisses and censored scenes. The haunting images of Elena on Toto's little movie projector...
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hotlimbo7 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I just saw the director's cut after an hiatus of about 10 years since the last time I saw the shorter version of the Cinema Paraiso. The difference between the two versions does not take away from the immeasurable quality and sublime way of telling a story of either film. The director's cut does change the focus from the prominence of the love of Alfredo for Toto (Salvatore) in the shorter version to the love between Salvatore and Elena in the longer version. The shorter and longer versions are like watching two movies for the price of one.

The subtle change of extended story line between the two versions should be studied by all film students who want to take up editing as a career. It is amazing how the absence of some material and the addition of others can develop to such equally impressive but different conclusions. In the first film the closure of Elena's role turns out to be final. In the second and longer version the doors are reopened slightly and maybe, just maybe, they may reunite and dispel some of Salvatore's lonely existence later on in his life. The shorter version is certainly more of a devised film (in a very good way). Gaps are left for us to fill in with our own interpretations of what could or could not have been. This is true of all art where the author of the work leaves us some space to imagine our own input or contribution to the film. The second film is more cathartic than the first, or more expositional – letting us identify more with the elements of the story than invent them where we seek explanations. Case in point, again, the relationship with Elena: we imagine that she disappears and marries, under her father's orders, to some miserable "banking" husband and is lost to the bliss she could have had with Salvatore (at least, that is my invention of what could have happened to her). In the second version she seeks Salvatore so much she marries the next best thing she can find: Boccia – the closest person she can get that approximates him, especially after he has disappeared to Rome.

Phew…, that the two versions can become two different movies at the same time and still leave me weeping…. Wow! I don't even want to start on the excellent photography, the music score, the subtlety of the story telling and the tremendously gifted cast. I kneel and then prostrate humbly before the makers of this most exquisite work of art.
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Stunning film with great sense and sensibility ; being compellingly directed by Giuseppe Tornatore
ma-cortes5 March 2014
Colorful and moving flick dealing with a wonderful friendship between a little boy and a solitary projectionist . However , being overly nostalgic , too sentimental and overwhelmingly sweet . Attractive and sensitive picture with stirring drama , ravishing cinematography and enjoyable musical score . A filmmaker (Jacques Perrin , he subsequently became a notorious director) recalls his childhood (Salvatore Cascio , Toto , who celebrated his eighth birthday during filming) , when he fell in love with the movies at his village's theater and formed a deep friendship with the theater's projectionist (Philippe Noiret who said all his lines in French) at Cinema Paradise . The director goes back home to his Sicilian village for the first time after almost 30 years and is reminded of his first love (Antonella Attili) .

It is an interesting celebration of youth, friendship, and the everlasting magic of the films . Nostalgic and sensitive picture with thought-provoking drama , ravishing cinematography and moving musical score . The picture contains drama and nostalgia completely wrapped in an agreeable story between a lone man and a boy . The flick relies heavily on the relationship between an older man and a kid , subsequently teenager , but this does not get bored or spoils the tale . Slightly overrated but excellent all the same time , the picture is enjoyable and entertaining , but overlong . The story is narrated with great sense and sensibility , the intelligent screenplay was written by the same Giuseppe Tornatore . Giuseppe's intention was that this movie should serve as an obituary for traditional movie theatres and the movie industry in general , after the movie's success he never mentioned this again. This excellent and enthralling picture ¨Cinema Paradise¨ was starred by extraordinary actors such as Philippe Noiret , Jacques Perrin and Marco Leonardi . Good acting from remaining cast , just like Antonella Attili , Enzo Cannavale , Leopoldo Triestre , Agnese Nano , Pupella Maggio, among others . Glowing cinematography with scenarios colorfully and stunningly photographed by Blasco Giurato who reflects splendidly the cinema , streets , square , village and many other things . Rousing as well as insistent score musical , including a continuous leitmotif from the beginning to the end ; being efficiently composed by the veteran master and prolific Ennio Morricone . The film won several nominations and awards , Oscar included .

This weeper picture was very well directed by Giuseppe Tornatore . He is a writer and director, known for making similar nostalgic films including good actors , such as ¨Malena¨ with Monica Belucci , ¨ The star maker¨ with Sergio Castellito , ¨Baaria¨ with Raoul Bova ; and ¨La Leggenda del Pianista Sull'Oceano" (original title) or "The Legend of 1900" or "The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean with Tim Roth . Being his English-language debut feature titled ¨The professor¨ with Ben Gazzara . Cinema Paradise Rating : Better than average, well worth watching for exceptional cinematography , first-rate acting and marvelous score .
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Nostalgic Rerun
tedg24 November 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Although this film has been universally praised in both its short and long versions, I must lodge a converse opinion. And express concern about a viewing public who would so applaud.

This film was conceived with an intelligent framework, indeed one that I'm disposed to like regardless of the quality of execution. This is a film about films, but instead of the usual star and filmmaker end, it focuses on the effect on the viewer. It further merges one element of film -- visible passion in the kiss -- with the `real' life story depicted. More: it is set in Sicily where we can exploit dry villages and warm North African faces.

But then it squanders all this wonderful foundation and expends all of its energy on mere sweetness. My gosh, we have the cute imp, who drags his mentor from a burning building! We have that wise man, now blind imparting the mysteries of life. As long as we stuck to the little boy, the charm was tolerable, but it went on and on and on like a triple load of cotton candy. Yes, there is some charm. Yes, there are a few lovely shots (including fireworks). Yes, some of the characters are endearing.

But the director treats us like his portrayed villagers: as long as there is something on the screen, we in our simple lives are supposed to be mesmerized.

This is the worst sort of film, one that soothes with palliative images and a romantic otherworldiness. If film for you is all about a pleasant escape, this is your movie. If film is instead a means for expanding your world and exploring ideas, stay away. This is Hallmark emptiness, and almost any other Italian (besides Benigni) will do better.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 4: Has some interesting elements.
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Alcaminhante11 May 1999
This film is a beautiful cinematic poem.

I´ll never understand why this movie in the States is considered an Art House movie. Almost for intellectuals. Why ? Because it is not in English? This couldn´t have been a more comercial normal movie if it really tried to be one in the first place. People who say this is an ART movie, definitely never watched one in their lives. Because they can be awful to watch sometimes. But there are good things too. Anyway...

Unfortunely, I bet many people didn´t went to see it because of this classification. You don´t know what you´re missing !

CINEMA PARADISO, is, ( along with THE BIG BLUE ), my all time favorite movie ever, ( I can never choose between them ). It has the most beautiful story I´ve seen in a movie so far.

Many people don´t like it, but I can bet those people don´t truly love cinema. They´re just ordinary movie goers who consume movies as fast food. Anyone who loves Cinema has to love CINEMA PARADISO !

I used to think that italian movies were only those junk crap

Pseudo-erotic " PORKYS " style comedies or else those Art Films that the very intelligent Elite of film critics pretend to like, and so I only went to see CINEMA PARADISO, a few months after his release, because I was thinking that this would be one more of those.

I was wrong. This is the most beautifuly filmed love story ever, on par only with CASABLANCA although in a very diferent style. It´s amazing how this movie by telling a love story and a life of a character in fact tells about the history of cinema itself. The use of the theater location as a conection between characters through out the years is magnificently done.

And it has probably the most beautiful soundtrack ever !

Very emotive and capturing perfectly the story in all its moments.

And it has the most beautiful and moving ending ever filmed! No matter how many times we see this film. I bet everybody drops a tear at the end. And more than a tear, I´m sure. I do.

This is one of those rare moments in modern cinema that can´t be described. It has to be felt.

This movie is a true MASTERPIECE ! Please go and see it. It realy deserves not to be ignored.

Do yourselves a favor and go see it.

You´ll never forget it. Believe me. It´s that good.
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Aims for magic, settles for clichés
marissas7510 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Since "Cinema Paradiso" is billed as a joyful celebration of movies for all of us who love them, I am sorry to say that its charms were lost on me. Its story of young Salvatore "Toto" who discovers the magic of the movies through his friendship with projectionist Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) has potential, but too often falls prey to false sentimentality, muddled storytelling, and unbelievable characters. It got to the point where I thought that the remote Sicilian village wasn't even a real location, but rather a soundstage set (the piazza seems too big and tidy).

I watched the 122-minute version, not the 170-minute director's cut, but I still felt that "Cinema Paradiso" was too long, padded with innumerable "local color" scenes. The townspeople—who are all stock comic characters, including a village idiot—sit in the movie theater and react quirkily to the film they're watching. Presumably, this is meant to show how important the cinema is for them, bringing glamour and romance into their difficult lives. But since you never get a sense of what these people are individually like outside the movie theater, the contrast between real life and reel life isn't deeply felt.

Toto is not a very sympathetic character in any of his three incarnations. At first, he is an annoyingly impish, prank-pulling little boy; then a lovesick and wildly impractical teenager; then a successful middle-aged film director who seems to have no inner life whatsoever. (Evidently, the middle-aged Toto is more developed in the director's cut, but I don't know if I have the patience to sit through that one!) The movie's attempt at heart-tugging romance falls flat because Toto's love interest Elena is so poorly characterized--all actress Agnese Nano has to do is stand there and look pretty. Noiret is good, though, moving beyond the cliché of the "crusty but lovable mentor" to reveal Alfredo's deep bitterness and determination that Toto not make the same mistakes he did.

The famous ending montage of all the screen kisses that a conservative priest had censored is a lovely celebration of old Hollywood, but nothing that you can't find in the Academy Awards tribute montages every year. It also requires a major suspension of disbelief— weren't all these prints lost when the movie theater burned down? The best scene in "Cinema Paradiso," coming closest to conveying just what's so special about the movies, is when Alfredo turns his movie projector to face the window and screens a film on the outside of a building. The beam of silver light shoots through the empty black air; for an instant, all is magical, illuminated, even incendiary. Unfortunately, instead of creating many more new and wondrous moments like this one, "Cinema Paradiso" mostly falls back on old plot devices and one-dimensional characters.
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amazing film, but beware of director's cut
YourNewAesthetic25 March 2003
I am going to start this by warning anyone who has yet to see the director's cut of Cinema Paradiso: DO NOT WATCH THE DIRECTOR'S CUT!!! I know everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I am saying this because I viewed both versions of Cinema Paradiso in my film class (123 min. version first, followed by the 170 min. director's cut), and with the exception of one person, everyone in the class wished that they had not seen it. At the very least, if you must watch the director's cut, I urge you, no, I implore you, to make sure you watch the 123 min version first. If you watch the 170 min version first, you are robbing yourself of a great experience you will never be able to reclaim; watching the 170 min version first WILL ruin the 123 min version.

After we first viewed the 123 min version, there wasn't a single person in my class that wasn't amazed by what they had just seen. It is an amazing story of the magic of film and the cinema, highlighted by great performances and some of the most beautiful cinematography I have ever seen. There are very few films that I consider to be near-perfect, but the 123 min version of Cinema Paradiso has made that list. Some people complain that the 123 min version leaves a lot unanswered, but the beauty of it is that it doesn't matter. Though love and Toto's relationship with Elena are involved, they aren't the focus of the 123 min version. The focus of that version is on the relationship between Alfredo and Toto, and their shared love and enchantment with the cinema and film.

It is a powerfully emotional film, but, sadly, this level of emotion is lost in the director's cut. In attempting to clean up any loose ends or unanswered questions, the film is considerably bogged down by details and the magic and emotion of the 123 min version is lost. The focus of the entire story is shifted, and rather than solely being the story of the relationship between Toto and Alfredo, the film takes on the extra task of juggling the story of the relationship between Toto and Elena as well. In doing so, both storylines suffer, and the power the 123 min version holds is greatly reduced. The result is a complicated mess of answers (many of which only raise more questions), that after seeing leave you wishing you hadn't. In the end you crave for that initial sense of magic and emotion the 123 min version provided to come back, but for some it is all too late. I know it's tempting to watch the director's cut, but this is one occasion where you shouldn't indulge your curiosity. Sadly, the 170 min director's cut version taints the beauty and magic of the 123 min version of Cinema Paradiso, and that is one treasure that should never be lost.
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Do yourself a favor: DON'T LISTEN TO THEM!
nsalmon-417 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This film is exquisitely poignant. Giuseppe Tornatore expresses his overpowering love of movies by giving his viewers a genuinely magnificent movie to love and treasure. The final scene is a perfect blend of film editing and soundtrack music. Anyone whose eyes are still dry half way into that glorious scene needs to see a cardiologist ASAP. Cudos to the great Ennio Morricone & son Andrea. Many reviewers insist that the shorter, theatrical-release version is superior to the director's cut. The full-length version makes a central character morally ambiguous, in contrast to the uniformly benevolent father figure depicted in the shorter version. In the long version this character commits an act similar to but far crueler than the behavior of another character who is ridiculed early on. Most new viewers will watch the full-length film. The shorter version is more satisfying for those who secretly prefer fairy tales in which the good guys & bad guys are consistently good guys & bad guys. Viewers who can handle a realistic dose of moral ambiguity owe it to themselves to see the real reel.
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An ode to cinema, dream and emotions
lucio729 August 2013
Don't approach the movie with your logic part of the brain switched on.

Yes, as someone said there are some flaws relative to how realistic it can be, but that doesn't matter because you'd be missing the point.

Just let yourself go and enjoy this celebration of cinema, dream and emotions and this piece of art will bring you on a lovely spiritual trip.

I loved it.

P.S.: Sorry IMDb, but I was able to say everything I wanted to say without the mandatory 10 lines of text. I really love your website but you should pass this message to the management: quantity doesn't make quality.
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First half is great, but that's it
Atreyu_II13 August 2010
This Italian motion picture achieved notorious fame, comparable to the equally famous and more recent Italian movie 'La Vita è Bella'.

Like that one, this one is also very good in its first half, but after that it becomes a movie of bad taste. That's really too bad, because this movie (and 'La Vita à Bella') had potential to be something big.

'Nuovo Cinema Paradiso' can be considered a homage both to cinema and films. It shows us the pinnacle of the cinema as an industry of entertainment and as an escape for those who go there to watch the movies, making them forget the hard reality of poverty and war. Besides the cinema's success, it also shows its progress, its bankrupt, its decadence and its sad ending.

This is a very simple film. However, simplicity doesn't necessary mean something bad. Plus, the brilliant and memorable soundtrack by Ennio Morricone adds lots of emotion to the film, particularly in its first half, which is without a doubt the best part of the movie.

One of the biggest charms of this movie is the fascination and enthusiasm of Salvatore (whose nickname is "Toto") on the cinema and the projectionist job. He wins the friendship of the local projectionist, Alfredo, who also teaches him all about that job. As you can tell, "Toto" is a very intelligent kid and a very quick learner. Plus, he is mischievous, cute and hilarious.

Of course, even the first half has its minor faults, such as the pranks of bad taste - for example, that pig who spits to the audience and the prank with a bug on the sleepy guy. Pranks aside, I also don't like at times the behavior of Salvatore's mother: she slaps him a number of times.

As for the good of the first half, well, just about most of it. And this without forgetting Salvatore's dumb classmate. He's a poor dumb kid who doesn't know what 5x5 is. Whenever he answers that question is hilarious, as each answer is dumber than the previous one. In the 3rd time, he goes as far as replying «Natale!» (which is "Christmas" in Italian) - when he said that, I practically died of laughter!

As for the 2nd half of the movie, most of it is wrong and seems quite rushed and forced. Salvatore is no longer charming as a grown up. The love story between Salvatore and the girl of his dreams is frustrating in all ways, not to mention that it's ridiculous that Salvatore spends entire months waiting for her to open the window as a sign that she fell in love for him. There is no comedy or charm as in the 1st half. An animal is stabbed. Salvatore joins the army. And Alfredo's attitude later is puzzling: forcing Salvatore to leave that town forever, never look back, never return (not even to visit, going as far as saying that if he returns he won't receive him in his house), never let nostalgia hit him and never to even write or think about them.

I clearly prefer "Toto" as a child than as a teen or as an adult. "Toto" is far more charming as a child. In fact, the moment he grows up, for some reason the movie looses its initial greatness.

Phillipe Noiret gives a great performance as Alfredo, but little Salvatore Cascio steals the show as little "Toto".

I never saw the Director's Cut version. And frankly, I've got no interest in watching it. It's about 30 minutes longer, making it a too long movie and it certainly makes one view the film differently, as many of the mysteries are revealed (which might not be a very good idea). I saw the shorter version which isn't even that short, as it is nearly 2 hours long. But I can handle a movie of 2 hours.
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In memory of Philippe Noiret
lee_eisenberg24 November 2006
Philippe Noiret's death yesterday brings to mind all his movies, including "Nuovo cinema Paradiso". The first time that I saw this was right after I had seen "The Postman", and I recognized him as the man who had played Pablo Neruda. Here, he plays an equally great role, of the operator of a camera in a movie theater in an Italian village in years past. His friendship with and advice to young Salvatore proves to be more than the boy could have ever dreamed about. In a sense, the movie seems to be a look not only at what Italy was, but also what going to the movies was. It's definitely a masterpiece that I recommend. There may be the issue of whether or not we should make Italy's past look so idealistic, given that Mussolini was in power at the time. But I would assert that this movie shows that even in times of oppression, people can find ways to escape it. A really good movie.
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An excellently nuanced film
nycsean10 May 2004
I just saw the new Cinema Paradiso this weekend, which also marks the first time I ever saw it. It's a long film but you don't notice the time passing as you watch, since it speaks on many different levels of terms of life, memory and experience.

The film has several storylines, reflecting different comments. A film about a first love, about a mentor and a student, about films or about not being able to go home again. However, to select a single one of these as the main story would miss the overall experience, since they are parts of an overall tapestry about the tough choices life presents.

The standard hollywood treatment would made a completely happy ending, our hero gets together with the girl (now woman) of his heart; continues his successful movie career; his mentor remains flawless, and somehow restores the old town's spiritual heart. This doesn't happen, for as his mentor states "life is much harder than in the movies".

Not to say that this a sad film, it's an extremely happy one, and by being tough and presenting a more truthful aspect of experience, its exquisite moments are that much more joyous.
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Slowpaced, relying on atmosphere.
xarraw10 December 2008
Shortly as always; Acting isn't too good.. sounds that people produce seem artificial. This is a film about a boy growing up in the vicinity of a movie theater. On the background there is a war ongoing but the episodes of the film don't make much connection to it. Story is a bit boring at least from a Finnish point of view.. Only one or two episodes made me smile a bit but the humor isn't too intelligent. Maybe this film is good for some people that can imagine beyond what is shown. For me; characters didn't matter much. Music is more happy than melancholic and I could probably compose something more touching.. :D. Maybe this was a good movie 20 years ago but today you can see much better films with more atmosphere and with a better script.

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