I’ve mentioned here before how every filmmaker eventually seems to do a film about the cinema. It seems to be a benchmark in almost every filmmaker’s career, or at least the cinephiles like Martin Scorsese (Hugo) and Francois Truffaut (Day for Night). Now, we have Giuseppe Tornatore, and his film Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, or New Paradise Cinema. Where other films about the cinema are filtered through a different plot or a bunch of metaphor or subtext, with Cinema Paradiso all the layering and hidden meaning is gone; this is a film that is simply about the love of movies, seen through the eyes of one individual who pretty much personifies this inner fire.
Now, to say that Cinema Paradiso has no real plot isn’t necessarily true. The film follows, in flashback, the life of Salvatore Di Vita, a young lad who harbors a passion for the cinema unlike any other child out there. He often finds himself inside the local theater, the Cinema Paradiso, where he tries to connive his way into the projection booth, manned by the gristly Alfredo, to see how the magic really happens. After much canoodling, Alfredo finally relents and takes the young Salvatore, or “Toto”, under his wing, teaching him how to run the projector and generally being a father figure where Salvatore has been without one. The film goes on from there, but I really don’t want to spoil any part of it; really, to go into this as blind as possible, while still knowing what you’re going to end up getting, is the best way to see this for the first time. If you have any love for films of any kind, especially if you’re a hardcore cinephile, this love is expanded to a gargantuan amount during this film. You can just feel the passion for the medium ooze off the screen and fill the room, and you can’t help but wish that your childhood was as amazing as Salvatore’s. I also quickly grew to love the score, and when the film was finished I Wikipedia’d the film and found out it was done by none other than Ennio Morricone, which just goes to show the man’s talent and genius seems to know no genre or bounds.
I don’t really know what else to say, other than that this film made me gleefully happy inside in a way I don’t think I’ve felt since Amelie. I love cinema. This film loves cinema. We’re a perfect match. If you love cinema, you should watch this film. Simple as that. Day for Night is probably my favorite Truffaut film, and if it weren’t for the love letter to cinema aspects of Hugo I don’t think I would’ve thought very much of that film at all. This, this one nails it. I realize my opinion is going to be slightly biased, and perhaps not indicative of the general moviegoing populace at large, but for this one, I don’t care. This isn’t really for a general moviegoing populace; this is for people like me, and I think I can confidently say that other people like me will end up loving this one.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10