Cinema Paradiso to my mind is one of the most heartwarming and nostalgic foreign language films ever produced. It begins in earnest with the fictional middle-aged, silver haired, world-famous Italian film director, Salvatore Di Vita, at home in Rome, as he receives news about the death of his dear old friend, Alfredo, the former projectionist from the small village of Giancaldo in Sicily, where Salvatore first grew up as a boy. We don’t know why he left but we soon begin to piece together the story through flashbacks, where we are treated to an enjoyable coming-of-age story about how Salvatore fell in love with cinema and in the process developed an amazing father-and-son bond with Alfredo.
In the final scenes of the film, we eventually find out why Salvatore left Sicily. Alfredo pushed Salvatore to chase his dream as a filmmaker and to never return to their sleepy little village. But Salvatore does return one last time some thirty years later to attend Alfredo’s funeral and finally begins to understand himself why Alfredo pushed him to leave. He also learns through Alfredo’s widow, how much Alfredo truly loved him and that he had left Salvatore an intriguing gift, an unlabelled film reel.
Upon returning to Rome, Salvatore watches this reel to discover a spliced sequence of some 50 romantic scenes put back together by Alfredo, that were censored and cut out of films, by order of the local village priest (from Salvatore’s youth) who considered them rather too racy for its time. Overwhelmed by joy and nostalgia, Salvatore gently weeps recalling being witness to much of the priests overzealous censorship. But more importantly, how the magic of cinema moved him so deeply as a young boy.
Photo Credit: The header movie still image of actor Jacques Perrin in Cinema Paradiso is presumably owned by Ariane Films. I make use of the image under the rationale of ‘fair use’ to help illustrate arguably one of cinema history’s greatest ending sequences. It also enables me to makes an important contribution to the readers understanding of the article, which could not practically be communicated by words alone. I am not the uploader of the You Tube clip.
Bliss! It’s too long since I last saw it.