Cinema Paradiso Movie Review

In one of the more puzzling DVD reissues ever comes Cinema Paradiso: The New Version (note it's not called "The Director's Cut" -- in fact this is really the "old version," as the cuts were made to make the film more palatable to U.S. audiences), which takes a sweet two hour production and turns it into an overwhelming three hour movie, which is far more paradiso than anyone really needs. Frankly, the cuts were understandable. And it won Best Foreign Film at the 1989 Oscars... what more do you want?

After all, what was wrong with the short version? Never saccharine, this love affair with the movies is a simple film. Poor, young boy befriends older (yet uneducated) projectionist in his small Sicilian town, learns the ropes, and grows older and wiser with his pal by his side. Eventually, there's romance (no, not between these two). There's war. There's departure. It's like three coming of age stories in one! They're all well produced, subtle, and tender. Unless you truly have no heart, you can't help but enjoy the film.

What The New Version adds is a long denouement that answers a question that few people probably cared to ask. As a teen, Salvatore's big love is with a girl named Elena. But her father disapproves, and he moves the family away from Sicily to marry her off to some rich guy. Salvatore spends years trying to find her but never does. End of story. What happened to Elena? Well, she got married and had kids but of course she still remembers Salvatore and has feelings for him.

This was originally a 30-minute epilogue to the movie, as our hero, now late into middle age, returns to his hometown for a funeral. Wrapping things up with Elena is harmless, but it adds considerably and unnecessarily to the length of the film. The other restored cuts add little, reminding us of Italian cinema's penchant for silly, almost slapstick, sex scenes. The rest of the film is so innocent that the raunchy stuff feels out of place.

Lucky then that Cinema Paradiso includes the original U.S. version on the flip side of the disc. Unless you're an utter completist, you needn't bother with the "new" version, but it'll always be there for you just in case.

Aka Nuovo cinema Paradiso .

Comments

Cinema Paradiso Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 1988

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