Cinema Paradiso

It has been reported today that Ennio Morricone, the Oscar-winning Italian film composer, died overnight aged 91 in a Rome clinic.

Among the many scores he wrote for film is the one for Cinema Paradiso. A fan has assembled a suite of its themes here: https://youtu.be/hLe9gTKQ4LU

On 12.12.13, The Independent published a review of the film:

“The 25th-anniversary restoration of Giuseppe Tornatore’s crowd-pleasing Oscar-winner is the original version, not the later, longer director’s cut. As a celebration of old-fashioned flammable nitrate film in all its unpredictability, it has an added resonance in today’s digital era. Cinema Paradiso is a movie of glorious moments but it is undermined by its own chronic, nostalgia-fuelled soppiness. At times, the sentimentality risks becoming very cloying indeed. Tornatore’s screenplay owes an obvious debt to Federico Fellini’s I Vitelloni, likewise a story about a man looking back with longing on his provincial roots.

The first section of the film is the best and most magical. This is where we see the wonderfully gruff projectionist Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) take the little urchin Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio) in hand and teach him the secrets of projecting movies.

It helps that Salvatore is so full of mischief and Alfredo is such a curmudgeon. Tornatore depicts the goings-on in the Cinema Paradiso with affection and great humour…

It’s when we leap forward to Salvatore as a young man in love for the first time that the mawkishness begins to set in. Even so, the film ends wonderfully with the famous montage of screen kisses – the footage that the priest would never allow to be shown in the original Cinema Paradiso.”

Three days earlier, John Patterson wrote in The Guardian:

“…It could be argued that Cinema Paradiso was wonderful for Miramax – the Oscars it won in 1989, for Paradiso and for My Left Foot, were its launchpad into the go-go indie 90s – but terrible for Italian cinema, which veered away for a while from its politically, formally, and artistically distinguished postwar heritage (ie, the very movies celebrated by Cinema Paradiso – the age of Visconti, Fellini, De Sica, Rossellini, Rosi, Olmi, and Bernardo Bertolucci, who would later dub Harvey Weinstein “the little Saddam Hussein of cinema”) into the most egregious kinds of sentimentality, culminating in the grotesque spectacle that was Life Is Beautiful‘s best foreign film and best actor wins.

But Stephen Woolley is right when he remembers: “Cinema Paradiso is a movie about memory, and for our generation cinema was a place to congregate, a magical place to let your imagination run free. The character of the cinemas of my childhood and youth were all different and special. Now it’s all boxes, little long rooms, every cinema is the same, they smell the same, they have the same character, the sameness is the central quality. It’s like air travel, it used to be an occasion, now it’s a fast-food experience.”

Cinema Paradiso understood that perfectly, and that is its magic.”

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