Ask me about my favourite song or book, and my thoughts start surfing through vast chambers of options. Ask me about my most admired film – pat comes the response – ‘Cinema Paradiso’ without any doubt or contemplation!
The impact of this film on my life is something I can’t even imagine to describe. And am sure I am not the only one. Film lovers across the world have not missed any chance to watch it, and many film makers and actors still attribute a part of their success, passion and love for films to Cinema Paradiso or Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, the original title. My first encounter with Cinema Paradiso was at the age of 14 – on TV.
I have loved films for as long as I remember – all sorts of films, any language, any country, any culture, any genre – my love for films has always been unconditional and non-judgmental. Let’s leave the criticism and discrimination for everything else in the world – let the love for cinema be just that – love! And Cinema Paradiso captures this emotion more beautifully than any film I’ve ever seen. A filmmaker recalls his childhood, when his love affair with the movies started at his village’s theater, and how he formed this deep and intense friendship with the theater’s projectionist. A story that can be summed up in one sentence, but living it for a good 3 hours is something blissful and trance-like. Toto and Alfredo are members of my family, my life – as real as my parents, my wife or my child. I have been through the journey of both Toto and Alfredo – and I did see a lot of me in Toto back then, an aspiring film maker. Even today, film making is my dream, still unfulfilled. Yet every time I see Toto, it inspires me, and tells me it’s never too late.
Guiseppe Tornatore, who later went on to make the famous Malena and other films – will always be known for Cinema Paradiso. I did watch some of his other films, but the charm of Cinema Paradiso was missing. Or maybe I was expecting too much!
By now, I guess most people know that there are two versions of Cinema Paradiso – the original 3 hour Italian cut and the re-edited 2 hour version which mesmerized the world in 1989. I’ve seen both, and the director’s cut – the 3-hour one is so much more pure, rich, deep and satisfying. The classic film is particularly appreciated and is famous for the iconic ‘kissing scenes’ montage that comes right at the film’s climax with the heart-touching music score by legendary Ennio Morricone. No wonder it bagged the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award when it released in 1988.
I’ve tried so many times to share, sometimes in my friendly interactions and online discussions what I feel about the film. But words always fail me. So I have quit trying to do so. Instead I did find some reviews on IMDB that come somewhere close to my emotions. Here’s one by doeadear:
“I continue to be moved and deeply touched by this beautiful film from Italy, and I never tire of watching it. I share the lives of Toto and Alfredo, the small Sicilian boy, who loses his father in the second world war, and the older man who runs the projector at the local cinema. Toto lives in a world of make believe, movies, adventure. His dreams take him away from the small Sicilian village where he lives with his mother and sister. Alfredo becomes for him a surrogate father, and the movies, his parallel existence. It is a deceptively simple film, which sweeps you up and carries you along. You never want it to end. And, when it does end, it is with such heartbreaking simplicity, I cannot help being moved to tears. Young Salvatore Cascio is a marvel as the small Toto, a mischievous, impish, adorable child. Phillipe Noiret is unforgettable as the sly and heart-warming Alfredo. You grow up with Toto, until he becomes a famous film director in Rome, and returns to the small village after many years for Alfredo’s funeral. It is the story of life, lost love, devotion, friendship, and family. It is unforgettable.”
So when one fine day, I decided to finally launch my own website and share my love for cinema with the world – Cinema Paradiso was the first choice. How dare I even even think I’ll get the domain name! So I had to settle for Cinema Paradizo, which was thankfully available. And here I am building my own online paradise of cinema – for which I owe everything to Cinema Paradiso.
For those interested in details about Cinema Paradiso, its plot, review and more, I recommend visiting this link.