It is a rarity when something or someone does not need a minimal amount of tweaking or tucking with the pillage of time; gusting technology slaughtering privacy, gluttonous craving for the “new”, voracious quest to conquer the vicissitudes of age, instead of celebrating them. “Cinema Paradiso” is an anomaly, because its perfection is as fine today, with the addition of edited footage, as the moment of its conception. I love this film.
In 1988, on my first viewing I knew that Director Giuseppe Tornatore gifted every individual, passionate from birth about film, an epic example of a genre with the facility to transform, educate, illuminate; a tangible story that resonated with millions of movie goers throughout the world; “Salvatore” represents the pristine trinity of life: boyhood, (enchanting Salvatore Cascio); adolescence,( Marto Leonardi), adulthood, (Jacques Perrin). All three stages ambush and hold captive, those who recognize “Cinema Paradiso’s ” visual and sculptural translation of what is so challenging to verbally define; the transcendent power of film to raptously, spellbindingly transport, rejuvenate, empower one’s existence.
A small town in Sicily, still recuperating from the vestiges of WWII; a young, highly imaginative boy (Salvatore) whose father is missing, a grieving, frustrated mother and a movie projectionist “Alfredo” (thrilling performance by Philippe Noiret) who emancipates and guides young Salvatore, “Toto” through the wondrous awe of celluloid, its restorative and destructive capabilities. “Toto” is one of the most charismatic, captivating characters ever to spill from the screen, his exuberance refuses to be quelled: Alfredo, a father image, scowls, and hugs simultaneously; the palpable magnetism of the smoky, darkened, screening room, addictively pulls Toto into its irresistible soul, and forever imprisons him in the medium.
“Cinema Paradiso” portrays Salvatore’s life, love, success and everlasting addiction to movies; clairvoyantly forecasts the monumental technological developments we all presently experience; ageless sentiments, glorified, fortified by iconic love scenes; romance always sought, and oftentimes found.
Twenty-five years, wiping the tears, believing that this is “as good as it gets”!