Projections - Movie Reviews

Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso

Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso is one of the recent European film classics, like Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful, cherished by Americans back in 1989.  This Miramax release in Italy wasn't popular and Harvey Weinstein's efforts to cut the running time led to much international raves, including awards at the Cannes Film Festival.

Now, the director's cut weighs in at nearly three hours and still is an endearing homage to the movies and companionship.  It doesn't exceed the original in emotional power, but it hits the key sentimental notes while providing an explanation of a relationship left hanging amid the nostalgic glow emitted by the director and a talented cast.

In Cinema Paradiso the story is affectionately woven by Tornatore to show the love which develops between Salvatore, an orphan who lives for the movies and the somewhat, edgy, but kindly projectionist Alfredo.  The setting of a meek Sicily after WWII is the backdrop for a tale of connecting as Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) gives Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio) the opportunity to learn his unglamorous profession.

The newly restored and longer Cinema Paradiso isn't as much concerned with them or the adolescent Salvatore (Marco Leonardi) and his girlfriend Elena (Agnese Nano).  It involves the adult Salvatore (Jacques Perrin) after Alfredo's death searching for the reasons why Elena, a brooding seraphic presence in Brigette Fossey, had hastily left him.

Tornatore offers a fulfilling character arc, to give more insight into this impressionable young boy.  Here, the new portion shifts the tone and pictorial feeling of Cinema Paradiso into a more wistful, somewhat unpleasant state with the effect of art on one's productivity personally.  He looks deeper in Salvatore's pursuit of Elena and the bond with Alfredo which casts a shadow on the overriding heartfelt aura.

Still, as restraint on sentimental and a gloomy complexity breaks through, new fans may not be won over as easily in the creative process which maintains a love of movie making even if a reflective vision finally suffers structurally.

Cinema Paradiso

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