Also known as: Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (Italy)
Release Date: November 17th, 1988 (Italy)
Directed by: Giuseppe Tornatore
Written by: Giuseppe Tornatore
Music by: Ennio Morricone, Andrea Morricone
Cast: Philippe Noiret, Jacques Perrin, Antonella Attili, Pupella Maggio, Salvatore Cascio
Les Films Ariane, Miramax Films, Umbrella Entertainment, 155 Minutes
It is hard to review a film that is one of your favorites of all-time. Seeing its flaws can be difficult and you also don’t want to get too preachy or oversell it. But frankly, Cinema Paradiso is pretty close to perfection.
I saw this for the first time when I was a kid. At a time when I couldn’t stand to sit through subtitled movies, I became pretty captivated by it. In all honesty, I had a deep love for movies at an early age but it was the experience of seeing Cinema Paradiso that made that love turn into a lifelong passion. See, there I go feeling like I am overselling it.
I grew up in a different time and place than the young Toto, the main character in the film. Regardless, at that point in my life, I connected to him on a level that I hadn’t connected to any character in film. Like Toto, I couldn’t get enough of the cinema. And while my father was alive and well, there was always a distance between us. I spent most of my young life watching movies on a daily basis – usually multiple films. I also sought out fatherly figures without realizing it. I was fortunate enough to have an uncle that introduced me to many of the films I would love for the rest of my life. So when I saw Cinema Paradiso, I might not have exactly realized how it paralleled my own experience but I always felt at home, as I watched it.
I think the film has the same effect on others who may have had an older mentor that they could share a love of film with. In fact, I’ve heard similar stories from other movie lovers I’ve met over the years, whenever this picture comes up in conversation.
Personal story aside, Cinema Paradiso is absolutely fantastic. The acting just feels so natural and pure and it is accented by the beautiful and simple Italian village where the film takes place. The picture reflects a simpler life and a simpler time for movies, as well. Cinema Paradiso really presents life in a genuine form that anyone should be able to relate to. It is a film of emotion and how life is hard and difficult. It is well-orchestrated in how it conveys that life is not like the movies.
It initially gives us the same sense of escapism that all the characters in the film experience in the theatre. However, it also goes on to show that reality often times hurts and that you can’t live your life in a cinematic dreamland. Cinema Paradiso equally and perfectly promotes the joy and the comfort of losing oneself in a motion picture, as well as hitting home that life must be lived despite the pain and the heartbreak because it also gives us beauty and love.
Cinema Paradiso isn’t so much a movie, as it is an experience and a great lesson. It is taught simply and elegantly and I don’t see how anyone could not love the film. It is an absolute masterpiece.