CINEMA PARADISO (Giuseppe Tornatore)

I do not know where to begin. CINEMA PARADISO is so enchanting a movie, and so grandiose it leaves you in awe and in a state of euphoria. I only saw it once. Imagine those who've seen it countless times.

More than a tale of friendship, of star-crossed lovers, and of love for the movies, CINEMA PARADISO is also a tale of cultural identity, where cinema has become not only a form of entertainment but a means of unifying a society and documenting history.

In 1980s Rome, filmmaker Salvatore DiVita (Jacques Perrin) is told that Alfredo, a man from his childhood village has died.

Flashback to late 1940s. Young Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio) who is nicknamed "Toto" sparks an unusual friendship with the town's film projectionist, Alfredo (Philippe Noiret). Toto is curious and wily, and is eager to know a lot about cinema. This stems from longing of his father who is sent to war in Russia, and may never even come home.

Father Adelfio (Leopoldo Trieste) oversees the film exhibitions, sort of like a precursory movie censor a la MPAA of the United States and MTRCB of the Philippines. All the kissing scenes in the movies being shown are ordered cut; hence none of the townsfolk, despite years of watching movies have ever seen a screen kiss.

I'll skip a few details (believe me, this is for your own good) and proceed as Toto grows up as a young man (Marco Leonardi) who is smitten by a young lass named Maria (Antonella Attilli). However the age old class separation hinders their budding love affair, and throughout their time together, the town, the people they know, especially Alfredo, and the Cinema Paradiso bear witness to their ordeal.

Told in classic melodrama fashion, with dashes of humor, wisdom for the ages, and the undying reverence for cinema both as an art and as a cultural marker, CINEMA PARADISO in its uncut 174-minutes version is like  personal memories of you growing up, recorded through photographs, letters, and spoken in vivid detail. Few films can make this sort of cinematic experience where you share a part of you with the story, and the story lends itself to you as if in eternity.

CINEMA PARADISO is hard to forget, with the breathtaking cinematography, the majestic locations, and Ennio Morricone's unforgettable mesmerizing score. It just leaves that audiovisual imprint in your memory.

And the way they kiss in the movie- Star Cinema will be shamed.

I felt gloomy as Alfredo's remains were being laid to rest, but what caught me in tears was when they were demolishing the CINEMA PARADISO. It's as if the end of cinema, and the end of all that was good.

This goes on the list of the Top 10 films that can make me cry, along with BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY and INANG YAYA.

Rating: 5/5 


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