Reading that Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore’s new film Baaria opened this year’s Venice Film Festival — and wishing I were there! — sent me to my DVD shelf. I reached for Tornatore’s Oscar-winning Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso in the Italian release) and popped it into the player.
This is a movie that improves every time I watch it. It’s a bittersweet tale of an irrepressible little boy Salvatore, nick-named Totò, in post-war Sicily who finds both father figure, and his future, at the local movie house Cinema Paradiso.
An important element, and one that’s really fun to watch, are the dozens of clips of movies we see — through Salvatore’s perspective – that are showing through the years at Cinema Paradiso. Some of the movies I recognize. Others are unknown to me.
Curious if I could find a roster of all these films that appear in the movie, I started searching the Web. Finally, on Italian Wikipedia, there they were.
I like the variety in Tornatore’s choices for the Paradiso. He’s not a film snob. In a movie that’s really a love letter to the cinema, Tornatore mixes Capra’s American middlebrow It’s a Wonderful Life with Vadim’s tacky Euro-flick And God Created Woman with Visconti’s art-house La Terra Trema with Ford’s classic Hollywood Stagecoach.
From Charlie Chaplain’s City Lights to Fellini’s I Vitelloni, the clips just keep on coming. If I had to pick only one, however, for sheer entertainment value, it has to be Silvana Mangano’s crazy dance to Il Negro Zumbon in Anna. (A nun with a past!) You can catch it on YouTube.
If you love Cinema Paradiso, check out the director’s cut. It’s a much longer and very different flim. If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?
I’ve seen both version and far prefer the original (2 hours). I’d even go as far as to say that if I had watched the 3 hour version first, it would have completely ruined my experience of the movie. Stick with the 2 hour version…
Damien Piller says
What’s up, I log on to your new stuff like every week.
Your story-telling style is witty, keep it up!
Great movie memories of Cinema Paradiso at NU taking a Film Appreciation class. How great is that.
Did the professor show (or discuss) the director’s cut of Cinema Paradiso?
I have seen both versions and far prefer the longer one. It ties up a lot of loose ends that the short version doesn’t. It’s too bad it’s not shown on tv instead of the shorter version. I actually met Tornatore a couple of times. Once in Sicily, I happened to bump into the set of Malena. It was a hoot with all the actors in period dress eating and drinking at a cafe, where I was shooed out as the filming restarted.
Then he came to Princeton University as part of a film festival of his movies – talked and talked and talked about his craft. very interesting guy.
Grazie, Linda for your comment. I agree that the longer version of Cinema Paradiso ties up the loose ends but I think it’s too lengthy to sit through. I wish Tornatore could have kept in the revelation about Alfredo (don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it) in the theatrical release.
I cannot possibly imagine anything added to the 2 hour version. It’s perfect as is. I regret watching the 3 hour one.