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Nuovo Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso

Italy / France 1988
produced by
Franco Cristaldi, Giovanna Romagnoli for Cristaldifilm les Films Ariane, RAI, TF1
directed by Giuseppe Tornatore
starring Philippe Noiret, Salvatore Cascio, Marco Leonardi, Jacques Perrin, Agnese Nano, Brigitte Fossey, Antonella Attili, Pupella Maggio, Leopoldo Trieste, Enzo Cannavale, Isa Danieli, Leo Gullotta, Tano Cimarosa, Nicola Di Pinto, Roberta Lena, Nino Terzo, Nellina Laganà, Turi Giuffrida, Mariella Lo Giudice, Giorgio Libassi, Beatrice Palme, Ignazio Pappalardo, Angela Leontini, Mimmo Mignemi, Margherita Mignemi, Giuseppe Pellegrino, Turi Killer, Angelo Tosto, Concetta Borpagano, Franco Catalano
story by Giuseppe Tornatore, screenplay by Giuseppe Tornatore, Vanna Paoli, music by Ennio Morricone

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Toto (played as a kid by Salvatore Cascio, as a teenager by Marco Leonardi, as an adult by Jacques Perrin) is a successful filmmaker these days, and really can't complain about the life he's living - when his mother (Antonella Attili as the younger, Pupella Maggio as the older version) calls him to tell him that Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), his sort-of mentor, has died, and this makes him go back to his hometown he hasn't seen for 30+ years immediately and sends him on a trip down memory lane ...

Sicily, shortly after the war, Toto was pretty much mesmerized by the moving pictures playing at the "Cinema Paradiso" in his small village, and it wasn't just that he was a regular, he had even made friends with the projectionist, Alfredo. But then some filmstock catches fire, and Alfredo almost dies in the fire and is saved only by Toto's timely intervention ... but Alfredo goes blind as a result - and the only person in town to run the projector of the cinema is ... little Toto of course. As a result he gets the job thanks to a rather generous interpretation of child labour laws, and pretty much grows up in the projection booth, more often than not in the company of Alfredo, who despite being blind just can't abandon the one place he loved the most ...

Fast forward a few years, Toto's in his teens and experiences first love when he meets Elena (Agnes Nano as a teen, Brigitte Fossey as an adult) - but her parents are against their daughter's relationship with the poor projectionist who seems happy enough with what he does that he'll never amount to anything. The lovers try time and again to have it their own way, but eventually Elena's parents decide on leaving Sicily altogether, marrying Elena to some rich heir or other, and put an end to this. Toto and Elena agree to meet one last time, but something goes wrong and they don't succeed in even saying good-bye. And based on this, Alfredo urges Toto to leave Sicily, to not be content with being a projectionist but aim higher, much higher ...

And we're back in the now, when Toto has aimed much higher and hit the jackpot, filmmaker that he is. But still he has lost his heart in his hometown on Sicily, and now that he comes back ...


Now Cinema Paradiso is nothing if not a highly sentimental movie, and it's also one to at times topple over into clichés and kitsch. Plus the film has certainly not set out to re-invent filmmaking but rather looked a bit dusted already upon its release date ... and at least for a dedicated movie fan, neither of this matters in the least, as this is a film that not only is about movies and the process of cinema going of old (even in the 1980s a slowly dying pastime), it really breathes cinema, totally fulfilling the promise of its title. Consequently, the scenes that stick out the most are those that show going to the movies as a collective pastime, and one where the audience participated in the on-screen goings-on much more than nowadays, too. But this is actually also mirrored in the film's own narrative, which might be yet another Romeo and Juliet-knock-off on the surface, but it's told in a welcomely old-fashioned way that it really works awesomely well within the golden age cinema narrative frame.

That said, this movie's not one for cold cynics, but if you'd like to re-feel the enjoyment you felt watching movies on the big screen as a young one, then that one's totally for you!


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review © by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


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