Nuovo cinema Paradiso ---- a must watch movie

@clintz15 (977)
March 4, 2007 12:33pm CST
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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