It has been said the greatest medium ever for telling a story is film. CINEMA PARADISO, a richly textured film, celebrates the role of movies and the way they shape and change our lives. Furthermore, this Cannes Film Festival Award winner breaks with the generation-long tradition of Italian films dominated by Marxist filmmakers. It is a welcome relief after so many years of celluloid political posturing.
When Salvatore diVitto receives word in his Rome apartment that his old friend, Alfredo, has died, his thoughts return to the small Sicilian village of Giancaldo where he grew up. Alfredo had been the town’s projectionist at the “Cinema Paradiso”. Quoting dialogue from movies as though imparting wisdom from the Scriptures, Alfredo reveals the cherished mysteries of the old films that fosters the imagination of the fatherless Salvatore. With every film subject to the protective scissors of the village priest, the town’s citizens have never seen a kiss on screen.
Salvatore also recalls the innocence and insatiable curiosity of childhood, the church where he was an altar boy, the anguish of first love, and, most of all, memories of Alfredo. Salvatore aspires to nothing except watching with Alfredo faraway worlds flickering on the screen. One day Alfredo, who has taught Salvatore how to handle the reels of film, is blinded in an accident, and the apprentice is given the responsibilities of a man. However, Alfredo has taught the boy something more: to set his sights beyond the Cinema Paradiso toward the world outside the small town — a lesson Salvatore truly understands only when he returns home after a thirty year absence.
Such an atmosphere of collective reverie is orchestrated around the rituals of movie going that the director appears to be suggesting that cinema once, in an age before TV, had a role similar to that of the church. At any rate, the film is a lot of fun, especially the humorous idiosyncrasies of Italian village life. To the faint of heart, all the previously-edited kissing scenes are presented to the viewer at the end.
Unfortunately, this fine Italian film is marred by some obscenities, promiscuity and very brief, naturalistic female nudity. With very little editing, this film could have been recommended.
Some obscenities, promiscuity and brief female nudity.