Saturday, March 21

Cinema Paradiso -- A Nostalgic journey down the lane

It is not often that you chance upon a film so touching that you are convinced that it has leapt straight out of the director’s heart. With Cinema Paradiso, Giuseppe Tornatore, the director, has done just that. Following along the lines of classic Italian movies like the Bicycle Thief, The Good , the Bad and the Ugly and Life is beautiful, this one is also considered to be one the best Italian movies made so far . Tornatore, to his credit, has won a heap of nominations and awards including two BAFTA's , one for Cinema Paradiso and another one for the critically acclaimed Malena . Cinema Paradiso even went on to win the Academy award for the Best Foreign-language film in the year 1988 .

If you are a movie buff with a passion for great cinema you will love Cinema Paradiso. The movie tells the saga of a lasting friendship between a small boy (Salvotre) and an older man (Alfredo). This movie is a tribute to the golden age of cinema, a time when there were no multiplexes, a time when people had never heard of DVDs, a time when an afternoon at the theatre was a magical experience. Nostalgia creeps in, as we watch the sheer joy theatres brought to the people, who, forgetting about all their worries, came there to be enchanted by the magical world of motion pictures.

The plot of the movie is centred around the strong bond between boy and man. As a young kid, Salvatore becomes increasingly immersed in the magic of cinema shown in the Paradiso theatre, sometimes, even going so far that he tries to steal money to watch movies (of course, he ends up getting caught by his mother during the course of the movie ). Alfredo , his friend works as a projector operator in the Paradiso theatre teaching him the nuances of the art of operating the projector. Salvatore learns this and other important lessons in life from his friend, Alfredo, which come to his aid, when it is his turn to stand up and face the challenges life throws up.

The real beauty of the fim is in the little things, that make a smile appear on one’s face involuntarily. Throughout the film, three different actors play Salvotre; as a child, as a teenager and as a young man. But it is Cascio as the child Salvotre, who scores among the three. The sheer innocence of his angelic face makes you smile. Alfredo , portrayed by Phillipe Noiret is the heart and soul of the movie .He has lived the character, rather than playing one .

One could not help but wonder how the same Ennio Morricone whose scores for western flicks like Once upon a time in the west (click here for theme), The Good , the Bad and the Ugly (click here for theme ), is stuff of legend, has created such soulful music for this slow poignant tale. The music goes to your heart and carries the movie forward with a grace so endearing, that it stays with you long after the movie has ended.

It would be an injustice not to call this movie, one of the greatest ever made. Movies of this genre are so hard to comeby, that when one such movie comes along, you can’t resist falling in love with it...!