This in my opinion comes very close to being the best movie ever made. It seems strange to me that a movie of this calibre, of this quality should have such a low rationg on any website, but I take comfort in knowing that the website is after all called rateyourmusic, and I hope to god that it only means that this website cannot boast the same number of movie connossieurs that a website aimed at films like imdb.com can, although I do not trust websites in general when it comes to judging the quality of any work of any form of art.
This is poetry. In its complexity, one can see this film not only as possibly the last masterpiece that Italian cinema could come out with (perhaps its overall quality setting a much too high standard for the films to come, although one must not forget that in the years to come, Italy would win plenty of Academy Awards for best foreign language film with Mediterraneo, but most importantly La Vita é Bella, and Il Postino regarded so highly to actually have ended up nominated in the best picture section and never mind the foreign language section at all). Not only that. It also sums up the succesful Italian cinema of the point, from the neo-realism to the second Italian renaissance to the operatic Sergio Leone style (in fact, Tornatore and Sergio Leone seem to especially have a lot in common). However, that would be limiting the influences that transpire from the film itself. Quite openly, this is a film made by a film lover. It wouldn’t have worked otherwise. And since it’s Tornatore, it looks amazing and majestic. But in this film more than any other film, Tornatore writes a fable not too pretentious and not just something that looks beautiful on a trailer but ultimately disappoints. In this film, the plot too has no faults.
It is a coming of age tale, it is an ode to the cinema. It is the story of a kid that wanted to stay in the cinema even when the cinemas were being taken down. It is the story of Toto and Alfredo, Alfredo symbolising the cinema itself, first, an icon of what it was, and after the advent of television, what it became, a charming disable. It also really is one of those films with the abilities to grip you so hard, that you laugh exactly when you are supposed to and cry when you are supposed to.
There has been a lot of debates about the cuts. The directorial cut and the theatrical cut. I always believe that the director’s cut is the only cut. Generally, it doesn’t matter which one is better, I always side with the director, because it gives the film an identity, whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. Well, this time I say that the director’s cut really is the only cut. I do not believe that it is only an excuse for a sex scene and an overlong schmaltzy romance, although out of the three parts, I did think that the one in the middle was the less remarkable. The romance never takes over. There is too much going on. Cinema always remains something important in the life of Alfredo. Everything works all too well, not to mention that every single shot looks so beautiful, thanks to art direction but also photography and cinematography, although any fan of Tornatore will know that whether the film’s plot is good or not, the cinematography in Tornatore’s film is beautiful.
And I must not forget to mention another five star score by the man himself, Signor Ennio Morricone. Because another thing Sergio Leone and Giuseppe (or Peppuccio) Tornatore have in common is Morricone himself. And boy, the wonderful image and the beautiful score creates a chemistry that is close to orgasmic.
The magic of the cinema is too well reproduced here, although I do not doubt that this must have been an uncomfortable film for a lot op people. First of all, other directors that had been saying how much they loved cinema that thought they could never have achieved, or never did get to achieve in time, what Giuseppe Tornatore did with Cinema Paradiso. Secondly, this film must have been uncomfortable for the president of the Berlin Film Festival that year, that had said that Italian cinema had died, and he had only accepted one film in the final selection but had hated the first minutes, so he had decided not to bother with it (that film was Cinema Paradiso, and the conclusion of that story is that while Cinema paradiso makes endless best movie ever lists and went on to win much too many prizes to cound especially for a foreign language film, the Berlin film festival is still seen as less important than the Venice and the Cannes film festivals as far as European festivals are concerned).
WATCH FOR THE MOMENT – The movie is filled with gems, but the first thing I think of when I think of cinema Paradiso is the kissing finale, when anyone with any kind of heart (and who does not mind watching a subtitled film) will cry his eyes out.
But because this is the kind of film that makes you laugh one minute and the next it makes you cry, the lighter moment I choose to highlight is the one where Alfredo tells kid Toto not to learn to become a projectionist, as he takes a piss, and Toto helps put the film in focus again. That scene works amazingly well.