Plot: What’s it about?
Cinema Paradiso is a hard film to encapsulate into a summary, as it is basically, as the disc’s packaging says, a tale about a life long love affair with movies. Salvatore is enamored with the movies at the local cinema, which is also the town’s social gathering place, as most of the social aspects of the town revolve around it. Salvatore, just a little boy, is so enraptured by the silver screen, that he is enthralled when the theater’s projectionist, Alfredo, takes him under his wing, to share his secrets about the world movies. The two become instant best friends, even as Salvatore grows older, he stays in love with the movies, and looks to Alfredo for more and more information about the movie process. Salvatore learns everything he knows from Alfredo and the movies, and dreams of someday being able to make his own movies. But when his chance at making his dream come true arises, he must leave the village and Alfredo behind. Alfredo makes Salvatore promise to always pursue his dream and never look back, and Salvatore keeps his promise. Thirty years pass, and Salvatore receives a message that he is to return to the tiny village right away. But what does the future hold for Salvatore?
This is a touching movie, and anyone who has a deep passion for movies should not miss it. It has excellent performances, a great storyline, and it just seems to reach a special place in my heart when I watch it. As a person who loves movies, I can connect with the material quite well, as can other cinema buffs. The blending of screen and real life romance is wonderful here, with no weak stretches to mention. This is simply the kind of picture that brings back the magic of movies, even if you’re a hardened film snob. I just fell in love with Cinema Paradiso the first time I saw it and since then, I have shown it to countless friends and fellow film lovers. The result is always positive, as this film just speaks to people, even those who don’t live & breathe movies. So don’t think you need to be a massive movie fan, though it helps. This movie won a plethora of awards, even picking up the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, and it deserves them all and even more. I know this seems short, but this type of movie is hard to discuss, it’s just one of those movies everyone should see. While I could analyze it or try to point out flaws, this movie is so endearing, I wouldn’t want to. This new version adds in almost an hour of added material, though this release also includes the original theatrical edition. I recommend this movie and disc to every reader out there, it’s a classic and a must have for every film buff’s library.
As this disc’s banner so proclaims, this is a new version of Cinema Paradiso, as retouched by director Guiseppe Tornatore. It seems as though numerous filmmakers are in the act of revisiting their pictures, ever since George Lucas paved the path. But while Lucas has been hammered for his choices, most other revisited projects have been welcomed. This could have to do with Lucas’ critics being overly obsessed with the pictures involved, but I think it has more to do with the fact that the directors involved should be allowed that kind of control. Now I love Cinema Paradiso’s original version, but I didn’t complain when news of an extended cut was announced. This is because I knew Tornatore would handle the project as he envisioned and to be honest, its good to see directors let loose to complete their visions. The added footage is a bit much in this new version, with fifty-one minutes tacked on, but its still nice to see the material. I do think it alters the tone a little too much for my tastes, but some fans might prefer this longer version. In any event, those who desire the original cut will be pleased, as both versions have been included here, thanks to this dual layered, dual sided disc. So you can snag both editions in one fell swoop, whether you’re a purist or prefer Tornatore’s new extended rendition.
Video: How does it look?
Cinema Paradiso is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. This new version looks terrific, as the visuals are impressive and as far as the added material, I detected no loss of visual goodness. The print has some minor defects here and there, but nothing serious and on the whole, it looks quite clean. There is some slight softness in the darkest of scenes, but usually black levels are solid and on the mark. As such, detail remains accurate and sharpness is good, so the visuals are never muddled in this presentation. No troubles with colors either, which look natural and bright, while flesh tones are normal throughout. The original cut also looks just as good, so fans will be pleased with both treatments here.
Audio: How does it sound?
The new version sports a new Dolby Digital 5.1 option, while the original is limited to a 2.0 surround track. The original Italian soundtrack is preserved in both, with optional English subtitles also available in either case. As expected, the new 5.1 track offers a more immersive experience, which adds impact to the material. You’ll notice more active surrounds and a better overall environment, just a more refined and spacious treatment. The score is sharper and more alive, while bass is deeper and sound effects are more effective. The 2.0 surround mix isn’t bad, but I would have liked new mixes for both editions of the picture. You can also choose a French soundtrack on the original version, should you need that option.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a theatrical trailer for the new extended version, but no trailer for the original release of the picture.