The term “magical” is a frequent adjective used to describe many films these days. It seems the distribution companies are trying more and more to use sentimentality and emotional connections to sell their pictures. And sure, some movies are worthy of this description…however, unfortunately, most are not.
I’m very happy to report the 80’s Italian film CINEMA PARADISO does not fall into that category, and it is a film beyond worthy of the label “magical”. I’ve been itching to see this film for years, but for some reason, I just never got around to it. When I heard the fine folks at Arrow and MVD were teaming up to release it, I knew I had to give it a go.
And I’m certainly glad I did. CINEMA PARADISO is one of those heartfelt films you’ll watch several times over, just to relive the emotion it elicits. It is a beautiful film, made very well and chocked full of entertainment. I daresay, if you have never seen this film before, do yourself a favor and check it out now. You won’t be disappointed.
If you are not familiar with CINEMA PARADISO, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Academy & MVD Distribution:
A CELEBRATION OF YOUTH, FRIENDSHIP, AND THE EVERLASTING MAGIC OF THE MOVIES
A winner of awards across the world including Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, five BAFTA Awards including Best Actor, Original Screenplay and Score, the Grand Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and many more.
Giuseppe Tornatore s loving homage to the cinema tells the story of Salvatore, a successful film director, returning home for the funeral of Alfredo, his old friend who was the projectionist at the local cinema throughout his childhood. Soon memories of his first love affair with the beautiful Elena and all the high and lows that shaped his life come flooding back, as Salvatore reconnects with the community he left 30 years earlier.
Presented in both the original award-winning cut and the expanded Director s Cut incorporating more of Salvatore s backstory, newly restored from original negative materials.
I’ve heard this film described as “a movie-lover’s movie”, and I agree 100 percent. If you’re a fan of cinema, this coming of age film will be right up your alley.
CINEMA PARADISO is shot very well and is mesmerizing onscreen. Director Giuseppe Tornatore masterfully captures the look and feel of 1950’s Italy, and he uses it to create a small world full of fun and raucous characters. I quickly fell in love with the town, and it is a big part of what ensnares the viewer early on.
The acting in CINEMA PARADISO is top notch, with the entire cast giving excellent performances. I have to commend the young actor, Salvatore Cascio, who plays the character of Toto as a child. Cascio is a precocious talent, and the audience immediately falls in love with him the minute he shows up onscreen. With an infectious smile and a mischievous air, this little boy steals the show.
The plot of the film is engrossing and engaging. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as the synopsis is a bit vague, but that is actually a good thing; going into the film a little blind makes the story even more entertaining. As Toto ages, so does the drama and the fun. But the movie also tugs on your heartstrings in more ways than one. We create a strong bond with Toto, since we get to see him grow up, and that creates a truly magical movie experience.
CINEMA PARADISO is a major win for me, and every fan of cinema should give it a look. There’s no English dub-over, but don’t let that dissuade you; I quickly forgot about the subtitles as the events onscreen unfolded. The Blu-ray contains an excellent HD picture and sound, but also some nice Special Features as well. These include:
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• Restored from the original camera negative and presented in two versions the 124 minute Cannes Festival theatrical version and the 174 minute Director s Cut
• Uncompressed original stereo 2.0 Audio and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio options
• Optional English subtitles
• Audio commentary with director Giuseppe Tornatore and Italian cinema expert critic Millicent Marcus
• A Dream of Sicily A 52-minute documentary profile of Giuseppe Tornatore featuring interviews with director and extracts from his early home movies as well as interviews with director Francesco Rosi and painter Peppino Ducato, set to music by the legendary Ennio Morricone
• A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise A 27-minute documentary on the genesis of Cinema Paradiso, the characters of Toto and Alfredo, featuring interviews with the actors who play them, Philippe Noiret and Salvatore Cascio as well as Tornatore
• The Kissing Sequence Giuseppe Tornatore discusses the origins of the kissing scenes with full clips identifying each scene
• Original Director s Cut Theatrical Trailer and 25th Anniversary Re-Release Trailer
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet by Pasquale Iannone illustrated with archive stills, behind-the-scenes images and posters
The film is available now, so take a look.