Wednesday, November 20, 2013

221 of 1001 Movies: Cinema Paradiso (1988)

About the first five minutes of this movie seemed to want to waste time on sharing all the awards it had won and been nominated for. There are three versions to choose from this. The director's cut at 174 minutes long, the original version at 155 minutes long, and the international/theatrical version at 124 minutes long. When I started watching the version I had it was the 124 minutes one, and the fact that the first few minutes were awards it won just seemed like a waste considering the length of the other two. Otherwise, in the tradition of Italian cinema they know how to make a powerful, character-driven, drama.

Summary: Salvatore is sent word by his mother that an old friend, Alfredo, has died. Salvatore hasn't visited the city he left where is family is though since he was a young man. As an older man he recalls how before becoming a filmmaker he befriended a projectionist who introduced him to his love of movies.  Now for the first time in almost 30 years he will be returning home to not only bury an old friend but hopefully to move on from lost love as well.

Acting: The acting is done very well from the cast. Phillpe Noret is Alredo, the projectionist. Noret is probably the character that is more complex and the one that I thought longest about watching the movie after it went off. He seemed to have still been a guy inhibited by his lack of education and one who didn't seem to enjoy that his life was bound to being a projectionist. So much so that he perhaps imposed on a young man what he had hoped for his own life. Salvatore as a man I'm sure will look back and be thankful. Jacques Perrin plays the oldest Salvatore. For some reason I thought the actor didn't look enough like the two younger versions though.

Filming: It's difficult not to have a beautiful Italian movie. Just the setting alone is enough to make the movie pop with life. Even the village that Salvatore is living in as a child is a great setting. The movie has all these interesting shots of the character that provide so much more depth and emotion to who they already are. He angles them in shots so they appear to be creatively just contrasted with that moment.

Plot: Like many of the other Italian movies I've seen this movie focuses on love and family. It also transitions over a long amount of time as some of the ones I've seen like 1900 and The Best of Youth did as well. Except no one was making those movies shorter. I would be curious to watch the director's cut of this movie eventually though. A lot people appreciated the vagueness of how this movie ended though, unlike the director's version which gives a lot more depth as to why certain things ended as they did. In a way I liked the tragic ending mixed with hope. Though, the ending being tragic depends on your perception. I liked how Salvatore grew and changed throughout the movie, but what made no sense to me was the makeup work for the minor characters, but then completely changing the person who played the lead ones. I would rather use the same person and use makeup to make them older. For some reason the emotions just didn't transition as well with a different person at each step.

Cinema Paradiso was something I had hoped to be good and it was. Maybe my expectations were slightly high though because it didn't leave me with the long standing emotions I've had after watching the others mentioned. I also think if you had to ideally choose any of the three versions to watch it might be the 155 minute version. The 124 one leaves something to be desired, and it feels like the 174 minute one just gives too much.

Rating 8 of 10.

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