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Cinema Paradiso (1989)

Cinema Paradiso is a 1989 Italian film directed by Giuseppe Tornatore starring Salvatore Cascio, Marco Leonardi, Philippe Noiret, and Jacques Perrin.  Cinema Paradiso is about the life of an aspiring film director named Salvatore Di Vita (Toto).  The film begins with news delivered to Mr. Di Vita by his girlfriend who exclaims that his mother has called from Sicily exclaiming that Alfredo has passed and that his funeral was planned for the following day.   Once Salvatore hears this news, he is clearly stunned and takes a moment to contemplate.  His girlfriend asks if Alfredo was a relative, but Salvatore is quick to respond and says that he is nobody.  This scene makes the audience ponder the sharp response by Salvatore.  As Salvatore lies back in bed, he begins to reminisce.  Toto begins by thinking about his earliest memories of the Cinema Paradiso, a movie theater, and Alfredo who introduced Toto to the camera and how to use a projector.

Cinema Paradiso included many themes.  For example, one reoccurring theme seen throughout the film were the religious aspects which fought the films.  The priest of the town would censor films he believed to be provocative and pornographic before the audiences were allowed to see the films.  After Alfredo passes responsibility of the projector to Toto, Toto does not censor films and therefore brings down a barrier of censorship among the film industry within the town.  Another big reoccurring theme was the numerous kissing scenes.  During the censoring of movies, kissing was prohibited, and for that reason, at the end of the film, Alfredo creates a reel full of “prohibited” kissing scenes from various movies and Alfredo’s wife gives Toto the reel as a final gift from Alfredo after his passing.  A theme which seemed quite prevalent in this film was how everything changes.  For better or for worse, change was imminent in the small Sicilian town.  Alfredo repeatedly told Toto that he better leave the town because he would be doomed to lead the same “poor” life Alfredo lead.  One fine example of Alfredo’s exclamation of change was how Toto met a new girl named Elena.  Both were lovers but as fate would have it, Elena left his life just as fast as she had entered it.  Sadly, Toto would never have the opportunity to see her again.

An interesting aspect about this film was how the character of Salvatore Di Vita (Toto) was played by three different actors.  The first actor played Toto’s early childhood, while the second played his teen years, and Cascio played the narrator/older Mr. Di Vita.  These three actors acted there parts very well in that they encompassed the appropriate emotions for a child, teen, and aged man.  The setting for this film was significant.  As stated above, the town the film focuses on is very small and was important in the development of the character of Toto.  This means that Toto realized the limited opportunities present in his small Sicilian town and had to venture to a much larger city, Rome, where he had greater accessibility to resources and jobs.

The sound effects used in this film were quite good.  Ennio Morricone, the man in charge of developing the sound track, did an excellent job of creating the lighthearted and somewhat comedic atmosphere present throughout the film.  The plots dramatic elements such as the crying and loneliness scenes had distinguishable sound effects for an organized dramatic effect on the audience.  All in all, Cinema Paradiso is an excellent film which stands out as an exceptional foreign film providing its audience with a mix of dramatic features.

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