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Cinema Paradiso
cast: Jacques Perrin, Philippe Noiret, Marco Leonardi, and Salvatore Cascio

director: Giuseppe Tornatore

123/170 minutes (12/15) 1990
widescreen ratio 16:9
Fremantle DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
A two-disc DVD release for the much-loved Italian classic, including both the theatrical version, and the far longer director's cut (which I would rate only six out of ten). In a tiny Sicilian village, a poor boy grows up sustained by his love of cinema. The cranky projectionist, Alfredo, becomes a father figure to him, a relationship only strengthened by a tragic accident. Slowly, outside events begin to impinge on his near idyllic life - war and social change, death and first love - and he starts to feel the call of the outside world. The loss of his true love, Elena, severs his last emotional tie, and he sacrifices his love of the village, and her, to follow a career in film. But has he made the right decision - and if so, why is he so afraid to go back?
   This is ostensibly a heart-warming film about personal relationships, yet it also takes in the changes in Italian society as city life begins to lure the young away, and the media brings the world into their very homes. Tornatore isn't afraid to lay on the sentiment, but a strong vein of humour and an understanding of the real disappointments and pressures of life keeps the movie palatable to all but the most cynical.
   The director's cut replaces 45 minutes of material - some of it earning this version a 15 certificate - including a new slant on Alfredo's motives in shaping the life of his young protégé, and a reunion with the adult Elena. For devotees of the film, this clears up a few nagging questions, but in general, the longer version tends to over-explain elements that are better left to the imagination, robbing the story of some of its magic.
   Other extras are thin on the ground - director's credits, and strangely, scenes from the director's cut as an extra on the theatrical cut disc - but for sheer running time, you certainly get your money's worth.
   A warm, gentle film about dreams and love, Cinema Paradiso is the perfect winter's evening entertainment for romantics - a glimpse of Sicilian sun to keep the rain at bay.
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