By Sudipto Nag (India)


Toto’s mother informs that Alfredo is dead. Toto recalls his past – a small boy who lives in Italy is attracted towards film reels. The middle aged projectionist Alfredo doesn’t like it when Toto comes and wants to take some reels. But Toto’s enthusiasm and the love for films amazes Alfredo. Alfredo attends an exam with the small boy and that day Toto saves him from submitting a blank paper. Very soon a strange kind of friendship binds them together. Their love and care for films crosses the barrier of their age limits. At the same time Alfredo takes his dead father’s place. Meanwhile an accident takes place which burns down the theatre and Alfredo loses his sight forever.

Salvatore (Toto) grows up and works as the new projectionist in the new theatre. He begins to experiment with an ordinary camera. Salvatore falls in love with Elina. Slowly he wins her heart but her family is the wall between them. So ultimately he loses her and gets ready for a long journey to succeed in his life. Alfredo is the one who is behind Toto’s mission. Toto turns to a famous film maker and finally returns home to attend the funeral of Alfredo where he also meets his old love. Alferdo’s wife gives him a surprising gift which Alfredo left for Toto.

Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso was originally released in Italy at 155 minutes but poor box office performance in its native country led to it being shortened to 123 minutes for international release. It was an instant success. This international version won the special jury prize at the 1989 Cannes film festival and the 1989 best foreign language film Oscar. In 2002, the director’s cut 173-minute version was released (known in the U.S. as Cinema Paradiso.

Cinema Paradiso is a long film but its rhythm and dramatic emotional elements keeps us busy with the story. The music by Ennio Morricone touches the audience’s heart and suits with the drama perfectly. Little naughty Toto and old Alfredo’s lively performance makes it more real. Cinema Paradiso is a movie which shows the passion and love for cinema. Toto may fail to achieve his love in his life but he brings the love in other peoples life through the power of his movies. That’s what he realizes after watching the special montage of Alfredo. It is a special montage with all the love making shots from separate films. ‘The story of the body guard and prince’ also indicates a moral sacrifice for a higher purpose. Starting with a flash back and ending with the surprise of Alfredo’s gift makes the movie more interesting and impactful. Especially the ending scene makes it a memorable experience. The long shot of the destroyed Cinema Paradiso and Salvatore roaming around is very interesting. The renowned director is meeting with his history and he himself is the light between those dark broken objects.

The whole movie carries on smoothly leaving one quarry on the audiences mind. Now where in the film strongly portrays the directors passion in Salvatore. The footages he shot were not that special or there were no connections between the girls and dead bull’s footage. Even a slaughtered bull’s image is not a new thing in the field of cinema. Eisenstein showed it long ago. A passionate camera person must chase his filmic subjects rather than a pretty girl. I mean at least he should have shown the same kind of passion for that medium. Loving cinema and making one is not same. At the same time the movie narrates Toto’s story it shows the history of development of films through small clips. Also shows the effect of narrow minded censorship in a sarcastic way. The movie not only indicates the love towards cinema but also shows the educative side of films. Alfredo was poor and almost uneducated but he learnt about the philosophy and purpose of life by the help of movies. It proves how much an ordinary person can be moved or influenced by the magical reality of cinema.

Cinema Paradiso has a great message for the movie lovers from all over the world. It is not a movie which deals with religious, political or other common social things. It is itself a movie as a tribute to all beautiful entertaining humanistic movies. The long romantic drama is very much touching and inspiring. No doubt it should be considered as one of the greatest movie of all time.


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