Monday, January 13, 2014

Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Today's film is Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, also known as simply Cinema Paradiso.  It is a simple and touching film.  It is a film I can recommend for the whole family.

It is told as a huge flashback as the older adult Salvatore "Toto" Di Vita remembers his life in a small town after having been gone for 30 years.  Even after he became a famous filmmakers, he still didn't bother to return home to visit his mother and sister.  He only comes back after learning that Alfredo has died.  We spend the rest of the film learning who Alfredo is and how he changed's Toto's life.

It starts off with Toto as a child.  He is an altar boy in the church, and the priest thinks it's his job to censor out all the films that come to town.  The priest watches films alone in the cinema (called Cinema Paradiso) and every time he sees a kissing scene, he becomes disgusted and rings a bell.  The projectionist now knows where to cut the film so that scene disappears.  Toto runs up to the projection booth and meets the projectionist, Alfredo.  At first, he is annoyed at having a kid there, but eventually he lets him stay after watching him start up the projector and realizing he learned it just by watching.  Over time, Alfredo becomes a father figure to Toto.

One day, the projection booth catches on fire and Toto is the only one who runs up to save him.  He does his best to drag Alfredo down the stairs, but he has significant burn injuries and loses his sight.  Also, the cinema is destroyed.  Luckily, a resident has just won the lottery and uses the funds to build a new cinema, called Nuovo Cinema Paradiso.  Toto is put in charge of running the projector since Alfredo can no longer see.  Toto also becomes interested in making films, and Alfredo encourages his dreams.

As a teenager, Toto falls in love at first sight with Elena.  She likes him, but her family moves away and he never hears from her again.  As an adult, he has had many girlfriends, but no one that he really loves.  I don't believe that.  I don't believe that if you miss an opportunity for love at 17 or 18 it's gone forever.  If that were true nobody would ever get remarried.

Alfredo tells Toto to leave town and to never ever come back.  If he comes back, he'll be trapped in this cage known as small town life and never achieve his dreams.  Alfredo can see greatness in Toto and knows that he has to leave.  He does, and becomes a successful filmmaker.  Toto only comes back to go to Alfredo's funeral and unfortunately has to watch the destruction of the Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, which was abandoned because people don't watch films the way they used to.  There was too much competition from tv and the cinema couldn't keep up.  Alfredo leaves Toto once last gift, a box of film.  As Toto watches it, he realizes that he saved all the kissing scenes that the priest forbade.  It meant a lot to Toto that he went through so much trouble and was still thinking about him even after he was gone.  I will give this film an 9/10.

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