World War II has just ended and life in the Sicilian village of Giancaldo centers around the Cinema Paradiso where townsfolk gather to see the exciting and glamorous life outside. Young Toto spends all his free time sneaking into the theatre for the movies and most especially for the old projectionist, Alfredo, who loves him like a son. Toto wants to grow up and show movies just like Alfredo, but one night, there is a terrible fire in the projection box.
This movie is simply perfect. It's nostalgic and sentimental and quite touching. The actors are uniformly excellent, especially the beautiful and wide-eyed Salvatore Cascio who plays Toto as a child and Marco Leonardi who gives a sensitive performance as teenage Toto. Philippe Noiret is the wonderful old projectionist who teaches Toto about life. In some ways, this movie is similar to The Last Picture Show; it's about the passage of time with the one constant being the local theatre. We watch as Toto grows up and the town modernizes, but the villagers retain their close bond with one another.
The soundtrack alone is enough to send you running for tissues; it's simply beautiful and heartbreaking. The direction is outstanding, with nary a single wasted moment. In Italian with English subtitles, it's a timeless and universally-appealing story of a boy who falls in love with movies. Highly recommended.
**** out of **** Cinema begins with a childlike fascination and only ends when all lights turn out and all dark corners have been explored. Film is an everlasting, inspiring art; one which I've enjoyed studying and will continue to enjoy studying until the day I happen to expire. I can only hope that such a thing never happens to the movies. They deserve much better. Throughout my life, I've seen motion pictures that have inspired me and intrigued me in different ways. Once … more