Cinema Paradiso – An Appreciation

I rented this film again because I wanted my parents to see it. Fortunately my Grandmother and Maria we’re staying the night and they saw the film as well. I like the original 1990 version because I think the re-release (the version we saw Saturday night) gave away too much. But nevertheless, it’s still one of those films that never fail to capture me. This is also my late Uncle Arnie Lapinig’s favorite movie.

The film is about Salvatore, a successful film director who returns to his hometown and reminisces about his childhood and his love affair with movies. Cinema Paradiso affects us on many levels, but its strongest connection is with our memories. We relate to Salvatore’s story not just because he’s a likable character, but because we relive our own childhood movie experiences through him. Who doesn’t remember the first time they sat in a theater, eagerly awaiting the lights to dim? There has always been a certain magic associated with the simple act of projecting a movie on a screen. Director Guiseppe Tornatore taps into this mystique, and that, more than anything else, is why Cinema Paradiso is a great motion picture.

The marquis of the ‘new’ Cinema Paradiso.

The unforgettable scene of Alfredo projecting the movie outside as Salvatore gleefully watches.

Salvatore (as a teenager) in love with the subject of his film, Elena. Again, one of the shots I love.

Ah, the final scene! Such a moving moment when Salvatore (now the successful filmmaker) finally “sees” the late Alfredo’s gift to him. Truly unforgettable!

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That Glorious Feeling!

One of the things I want to do is to remake that unforgettable scene of Gene Kelly hoofing it in the rain in, what else, “Singin’ In the Rain.” I would love to remake just that classic scene with me as Don, letting out my inner Gene Kelly. Oh the dream to at least believe that I have an ounce of Gene Kelly in me! I might just do it soon. Put it right before a film or something.

I remember the first time I saw this film back in high school and it took me aback, hit me right at the chest and just wondered how amazing cinema really, truly is! The film itself is on my list of favorite movies of all time and it saddens me that the current generation snubs classic films. Most of my non-collaborative friends don’t even have one single classic DVD on their shelves!

Everyone thinks “Moulin Rouge” is a classic when Baz Luhrmann himself admitted he stole everything from this film.  (Maybe that’s why I have more of an appreciation for “Chicago” because it actually tries new things and the music is far better. The show itself, its music and its book, is near flawless and timeless.)

Arthur Freed, Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly are geniuses in my book. It saddens me than no one makes movies like this anymore. Not musicals per se, but just films that have such life, grandeur, humor and a real sense of joy. A true cinematic experience in every sense of the word. Every filmmaker should have this film readily available in their heads for reference in terms of sound, cinematography and direction. This is a must for any filmmaker.

No one who loves movies can afford to miss “Singin’ In the Rain.” but you don’t have to take my word for it. http://www.suntimes.com/ebert/greatmovies/singing.html

Roger Ebert is so right. In 1952, the movie was advertised with the slogan “That Glorious Feeling.”

Today, that slogan still stands.