Cinema Paradiso

This movie is 2hr 54min long and that immediately made me hate it. No film [except Lord of the Rings] can get away with being nearly 3 hours long, especially a drama. The fact that the very first shot [that is about 2min 26sec long] is of a plant pot didn’t help my negative mood either. But then there was a little boy but I forgot all about the flower pot and how much time this film would take.

A majority, I’d say about 4/5, is flashback. The first half [ish] is about Salvatore Di Vita when he was very young and he’s played by one of the cutest little boys ever! He has these chubby cheeks that you just want to pinch and these big brown eyes that makes me think his nickname shouldn’t be Toto but Bambi! This kid [Salvatore Cascio] just lights up the screen every time he’s on. He’s an amazing little actor who has you fall in love with him the first time you lay your eyes on him. Actually, this is true, as the first time you see him is in Church and he’s an alter boy. The Father is doing a prayer [I think] and Toto is supposed to ring the bell but he’s fallen asleep on his knee. Its so cute and cheeky and that’s why you love him. I wish the whole film was just the kid but alas, I don’t think that would of worked with the storyline.

The other half of the flashback is Toto as a teenager and it kind of goes downhill from there. He meets a girl, falls in love, gets depressed and its just boring. I can’t really say that much about it, to be honest. I just slowly stopped writing notes and became easily distracted. This is very bad for a film that’s nearly 3 hours long. You don’t want to loose your audience halfway through. Sooooo much could have been cut out! So much SHOULD have been cut out. I spoke to my dad about this and he said that some directors have a hard time letting go of the scenes they’ve shot. I definitely think this was the case with this movie.

Aside from the adorable kid who I wanted to adopt, there was one other thing about this movie that I loved and that was how much fun and excitement you can get from the cinema. We’re in a culture now where you can get pirate copies of movies and watch them at home. Where is the fun in that? This film reminds you of how enjoyable it is to walk into the cinema and get hit with a wall of the wonderful smell that is popcorn. You buy your ticket and you sit with strangers in a room and watch the film on a HUGE screen and are transported into a different world! You don’t have interruptions of someone knocking on your bedroom door or getting up to make a cup of tea. This movie makes you fall in love with cinema and films all over again [well, the first part anyway, second part makes you glad you have the choice to fast-forward]. Because most of the film is a flashback, we get a chance to see how the cinema used to be. It used to be the only form of entertainment for most towns and cities! It used to be a local event. Townspeople gathering together to watch a movie, being social to the point where we see a couple meet each other there. It sounds so nice to me and I wish we were still like that now. The audience’s reactions to the movie and the cinema are a lot different now and make you laugh when you compare it to now. There was a lot of talk before the movie, as the movie started and people arrived late they would shout ‘hello’ to everyone and there’d be more shouting. They could smoke, drink alcohol, have sex and breastfeed [and I think it would all happen in the order too!] Also, the audience used to openly cry when there was a sad scene. There’s one scene in the movie where the whole audience is sharing handkerchiefs as they all cry over a movie. They also hid their faces whenever there was a scary part! Even fully grown men were cowering! Now THAT is the power of cinema! Well, that’s the power it used to have.

But, before the movies they saw in this town were different to everyone else as the local Priest would watch the movies before the audience and make Alfredo cut out the kissing scenes as, apparently, no one wants ‘to watch pornography.’ What makes it funny is that the audience hates this! They hate it so much that when Toto lets slip a kissing scene, the whole audience jumps for joy and starts to cheer. Obviously, the Priest walks out in a hissy fit. It’s the only funny scene in the whole second half. At least I think its in the second half. Oh well. Its interesting that the Priest had such an impact on the movies. I suppose I have to remind myself that Italy is a very religious place, even if the public don’t mind a little so-called ‘pornography’.

The ending is pretty beautiful, though. And I mean the very, very end scene. I would love to say that it makes up for the boring half of the film but it sadly doesn’t. It still brought a tear to my eye, though. And I guess you’d have to watch the whole film for you to get emotional too. I won’t say what it is as its such a lovely surprise.

I’d only watch this again if I could stop halfway through and it would only be for little Toto. Let this be a lesson to directors out there; for the love of all that is Holy, please let go of scenes or you will end up letting go of the audience. I know its your pride and joy and would hate to see it on the cutting room floor but you’d rather do that then have the audience begging for the movie to end already. Oh, and find a kid with chubby cheeks and big brown eyes, that helps too!



Published in: on January 13, 2010 at 5:33 PM  Leave a Comment  
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