Review: Cinema Paradiso

Posted on Jul 22, 2003

It never threatens to become typical romantic fare, because the movie has something called scope. The movie starts with a focus on the main character as a child. As most young boys do, he likes to do what he wants, and not what he’s told. What he wants to do is go to the movies. He strikes up a friendship with the projectionist, and ends up becoming his protégé. These early scenes are very well done. The characters are well played, seeming natural and the friendship seems genuine. Perhaps even more impressive is the scene which is laid. The town (forgot the name) is just as much a character in the story as anyone with lines. You feel the community in this town, and it’s amazing the depth they create with only the scenes in the theatre and a few others as raw material.

The main character becomes a young man, who is taken with a new girl, the daughter of a prominent banker. His attempts to charm her are charming, and atypical. We see many slipups, but he never given up his attempts, no matter how grevious his missteps. Eventually, he wins the girl’s heart.

After that is when the movie really starts to get going. She faces the prospects of having to leave for a university, as well as being betrothed to another different man by her father. How does it all turn out? And how does the projectionist fit into their story? You’ll have to watch to find out, and believe me, it’s worth it.

I feel the real highlight of this film, though, is the power with which it presents a homecoming after a long abscence. I haven’t left home for anything like the 30 years which the narrator uses to build his career as (what else?) a film director. But when he comes back, he is laid bare. He had expected his years away to make him stronger, to make him able to face some of the things that happened to him, to dull the pain. In this town, though, he’s the same person he ever was, like the intervening years had never happened, or they had happened to someone else. He doesn’t just say these things either, you feel them. He enters his old room, watches his old movies– It’s devastating to watch a successful man become a strange sort of shell for a love-struck boy.

This is a bittersweet movie. It doesn’t seem like anyone gets exactly what they deserve. The very end of the movie, however, is a perfect conclusion, wrapping up all the main themes and giving a ride down memory lane, as well.

It’s difficult to know what to deduct for from this movie. It’s long, but that shouldn’t necessarily take away from your score. I’ll call it a one point deduction for replay value; I don’t feel a paticular need to see the movie again. But this is an excellent movie, one that earns every point of its 9/10.