Never seen a film with subtitles before? Or: you've seen a few but they felt pretentious and boring and you couldn't understand what the fuss was all about?
Cinema Paradiso is the perfect film to teach you (or a friend or loved one) what the fuss is all about. An ode to the movies, this film captures what it was like to witness the golden age of cinema in a small Italian town where the communal experience of film and of religion were intertwined. It also captures precisely the nostalgia for lost youth, for innocence, for a first love, for an age when community was like family, and when life was not so fragmented. This is one of those few genuine films that genuinely merit the emotional response they generate -- the story captured in this Giuseppe Tornatore masterpiece deserves every tear that is inevitably shed by the grown men and women who watch it, and every chuckle that it solicits from the child in all of us who sees it. A perfect film -- that was as fresh (or even more so, since I'm closer to the age of the grownup main character) now as it was when I saw it in the theaters in 1990.
With respect to the "newer" edition -- while I am aware that it was originally released in a much longer version than the one that appeared in the US, I think that the foreign release version is stronger. While, like other reviewers, I can appreciate the scenes that were deleted, for filling in some of the gaps of the shortened version, I prefer not to have those gaps filled in, since without them (when things are left ambiguous, when Elena's reasons for failing to meet up with Toto before he serves in the military are left a mystery, and when his one love remains no more than a memory) the theme of the film is stronger: you can never really go home and real life is not really like the movies, even though the movies can in some sense redeem and give value to real life. Personally, I would recommend not seeing the "extended cut" -- at least not until after the shorter release version. In any case this is a must-see film for lovers of film of all nationalities.
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About the reviewer
Nathan Andersen (nateandersen)
I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida. I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (www.eckerd.edu/ic), and am co-director of … more
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Cinema Paradiso'scomplex, interwoven tales of wartime Italy, a boy's coming of age, and the history of cinema can be viewed in their entirety on the Director's Cut included in this Deluxe Edition. Director Giuseppe Tornatore's additional 50 minutes of footage provides closure for the saga's detailing Alfredo's death, and Salvatore Di Vita's lost relationship with his teenage love, Elena. Most of the 50 minutes serves as a continuation of the story, rather than as previously deleted scenes. The original, already celebratedCinema Paradisofollows Toto (Jacques Perrin), a Sicilian boy who persuades the town projectionist, Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), to teach him how to show films. Spanning nearly 50 years, the film craftily draws parallels between Toto's life and those lives he sees on screen. As Toto matures into Salvatore, a successful Italian filmmaker, theCinema Paradisoages as well. Salvatore's return home for Alfredo's funeral is also a goodbye to hisParadiso,demolished to become a parking lot. The film's heightened sense of nostalgia subtly mirrors our humanistic love of movies, making it a tribute to cinema as an artistic genre. The Director's Cut can be fulfilling if one felt unsatisfied by the more ambiguous ending of the theatrical release, but it also feels slightly overwrought. Two documentaries in this package feature fans and critics praisingCinema Paradiso,proving its endurance as a classic. However, as Salvatore ...