Friday, December 5, 2008

Nuevo Cinema Paradiso

This is a blog post somewhat different than your typical Slowzombies blog entry. Why? Because it's not about a horror movie, neither is it about a horror novel, short story, manga or anything else faintly horror-related. I was planning to write about my horror comic favorites again, well and nice on a roll after yesterday's post. However, plans were to be changed. Today I got the chance to watch Cinema Paradiso one more time, and as I discovered, I loved that movie more than I remembered.

For those of you that haven't seen it, Cinema Paradiso is an italian film from 1988. It's about Salvatore 'Toto' Di Vida, a middle-aged film director who looks back on the memories of his childhood as a young'un in a Sicilian village. Here, he quickly befriends the local projectionist, Alfredo, who teaches him the art of running the cinema. When the cinema burns down and Alfredo is rendered blind, Toto takes up the mantle of the projectionist. As Toto nears the end of his teens, he falls in love with the bankers daughter Elena, but is forced to forfeit his love to pursue his goals.

This might sound a bit boring for the average horror movie fan, but if you, like me, are fascinated by the art of cinema, both in producing and projecting, this movie will pull you in. There's profound love towards the social setting that the old-fashioned cinemas used to be, with more than a hint of sadness over the demise of the old cinema. In Cinema Paradiso, and the days of ye olde, or at least so I'm lead to believe, cinemas weren't merely places to sit down, shut up and watch the goddamn movie, but a place to gather, to be together while maintaining a certain level of privacy, really letting yourself get pulled into the action, shouting, cheering or yelping in fright as the situation requires.

The father-son-esque relationship between Toto and Alfredo is also interesting. Having lost his father in the second world war, Toto seeks a fatherly figure, and Alfredo recognizes Toto as a scion, someone who can take over when he's unable to continue his work. Ironically, Alfredo also recognizes a great talent in the young Toto, a potential to create truly great art, and he does to a certain degree manipulate Toto to leave the little Sicilian village behind. In the directors cut, he even goes so far as to sabotage the relationship between Toto and Elena so that Toto could leave for the big city truly without intention to return or pine for it. To what degree this was the right thing to do to ensure Toto could make truly stellar art, certainly can be debated, but I'm not getting into that yet.

Also, the music is quite awesome, especiallt he main theme is tearjerking to the max. There's few songs that hold the nostalgic sadness to it that this one does, and combined with the idyllic visuals, there's quite a possibility that a tear or two will be shed over this movie. Also, in closing, I would recomend watching the Directors Cut version if you have the time, it's 55 minutes longer, but you'll get the whole story much better this way, and a longer trip to to the idyllic cinema days of olde' surely won't hurt. I know I don't mind, there's a scene in the movie where a man has chained himself to the cinema seat and flat out refuses to leave, so there he sits while reenacting the movie down to the lines. I can identify with that guy because Cinema Paradiso makes me want to watch it as many times as he evidently has watched the rolling movie.

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