Cinema Paradiso

A filmmaker recalls his childhood, when he fell in love with the movies at his village's theater and formed a deep friendship with the theater's projectionist.


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  • ★★★★★ review by höddi on Letterboxd

    Tonight, halfway through my third viewing of Giuseppe Tornatore´s "Cinema Paradiso", I asked myself a question. A question that I had asked myself a hundred times before, but never really known the answer to.

    "Why do I love cinema?"

    There are three things that I hold more dearly than anything in this world. My family, my friends and cinema.

    In short, my family gives me warm comfort and unconditional love.

    My friends give me idiotic laughter and unbreakable trust.

    So what about cinema?

    Is it the wonderful and imaginative escapism, one of the few means to transport yourself away from the mundane life you find yourself leading, and into a dream?

    Is it my ongoing search for an emotional connection? Inspiration?

    I´m positive that when I´m older I´ll actually be able to give a better thought out, nuanced and philosophical-sounding answer to this question, but for now I think I´ll let this do:

    I love cinema because of The Empire Strikes Back

    I love cinema because Lester Burnham felt "great"

    I love cinema because G.I. Joe felt like the greatest movie I´d ever seen when I saw it for the first time, even when I knew it wasn´t

    I love cinema because Sean Astin in The Lord Of The RIngs

    I love movies because, for a second, I thought Norman Bates was the devil.

    I love movies because "It´s Hip To Be Square"

    I love cinema because the ending of Enemy almost gave me a heart attack

    I love cinema because Phil Lord and Christopher Miller consistently manage to subvert my expectations

    I love cinema because Orson Welles was 26 years old when he wrote, directed and starred in Citizen Kane

    I love cinema because The Blair Witch Project felt real

    I love cinema because of the music in How To Train Your Dragon

    I love cinema because of the final fight in The Man From Nowhere

    I love cinema because of the diner scene in Heat

    I love cinema because of the bizarre, hilarious sex scene in A Clockwork Orange

    I love cinema because of the opening credits of Watchmen

    I love cinema because Ralph Fiennes´wife in In Bruges is an inanimate fucking object

    I love cinema because I loved Pompeii

    I love cinema because of Eduardo´s rage in The Social Network

    I love cinema because Anton Ego was served ratatoullie

    I love cinema because The Avengers assembled

    I love cinema because Gary Oldman wants EVERYOOOOOOONE!!!

    I love cinema because of Tom Hulce´s laugh in Amadeus

    I love cinema because of Audrey Hepburn´s smile

    I love cinema because I can share it with others

    I love cinema because I could go on all night

    I love cinema because of the experiences, the memories, the moments, and the fact that a quote from The Notebook perfectly sums it all up:

    “I love you. I am who I am because of you. You are every reason, every hope, and every dream I've ever had, and no matter what happens to us in the future, everyday we are together is the greatest day of my life. I will always be yours".


    A tear in the rain.

  • ★★★★ review by Katie on Letterboxd

    i am just a kid. i've only been into movies for about 8 months and i know i have found my calling, my passion, and my life. in 10 years, will i still be insane and watch a movie every single day? will i still go to the cinema with my best friend and my mom? will i still spend all of my money of DVDs, just dreaming of having my own collection?

    i really hope so. cause this community, these movies, this life, is exactly what i want. there is nothing i want more. i love everything about it. i love what movies give people. not only do they give me a good laugh, tears, a smile, but they bring me you. letterboxd has become my favorite thing to do. it's a perfect yet flawed community of people who care about the same thing. whether your favorite movie is pulp fiction or the room, everyone can be (somewhat) accepted here.

    this "essay" has gotten off task, but i just really wanted to talk about how much movies have shaped my and hopefully your life. never stop watching movies, whether they have 1 star on netflix or a 100 on rotten tomatoes. never let people tell you what movies to like or what to make of movies. i hope in 10 years letterboxd will be around so we can continue to enjoy cinema together.

  • ★★★★½ review by CinemaClown on Letterboxd

    Films like Cinema Paradiso (also known as Nuovo Cinema Paradiso) perfectly exemplify why so many of us devour films like they are an integral & essential part of our lives, and exquisitely covers the fascination, excitement & joy we experience when a fictional story unfolds for a few hours in front of our eyes. And this gem from Italy is simply as nostalgic to every ardent film lover as it is to cinema itself.

    Paying tribute to the evolution of movies as well as movie theaters over time, and parodying the existence of censorship that restricts the viewers from experiencing a movie the way its creator intended, Cinema Paradiso is a beautifully crafted tale about love, loss, friendship & movies and recounts the childhood of a filmmaker when he fell in love with motion pictures at his village's theater & formed a deep friendship with the theater's projectionist.

    Evoking genuine emotions with its heartfelt narration, directed by a passionate film lover who infused a part of his own life into the story, aided by brilliant performances from its entire cast, exquisitely photographed, elegantly edited and featuring a wonderful, soul-stirring & truly heartwarming score from legendary composer, Ennio Morricone, Cinema Paradiso is a remarkable work of pure craftsmanship from start to finish that hasn't aged a day.

    An absolute delight for all film lovers around the world, this cinema about cinema is a splendid reflection of how movies have & will continue to play its subtle role in influencing the smallest decision of our lives and with its expertly balanced story that promises loads of smiles with few tears along the road, viewers are sure to rediscover why they love cinema so much in the first place. A timeless masterpiece. Delightfully recommended.

  • ★★★★★ review by J.W. Hendricks on Letterboxd

    My Favorite Movie Ever, Ever, Ever.

    I remember the first time I saw Cinema Paradiso. I was in high school, at a friend's party. After we all went to sleep, I was the first to wake up, and since I knew I would be the only one up for quite a while, I looked through my iPod for movies I had downloaded. One of them was Cinema Paradiso, which had been recommended to me by my friend.

    Fast forward nearly 3 hours later (I watched the Director's Cut), and I was in tears, hoping none of my friends would wake up to see me in such an emotional state.

    I immediately knew I had seen something special.

    Now, I've noticed that there's a pattern in film. Something that every film does, no matter how good or bad, is strive to create a perfect moment. It may be a heartfelt moment ("Here's looking at you, kid."), a terrifying one (Hannibal Lecter revealed), an epic one (William Wallace's "Freedom" speech), or any kind of moment, so long as it's a perfect one. Some movies never quite create it, and, contrarily, some films are chocked full of them.

    This is one of those films. My favorite film.

    A film so sincere, so magical, with possibly the biggest display of love in a film ever, could only be made by someone who knows what it's like to experience love, loss, heartbreak, happiness, sadness, moving on, letting go, reminiscence, anger, and so many more emotions and still come out a non-cynical person.

    They say that the kindest people are kind because they know what it's like to be sad and they wouldn't ever want someone to feel the way they felt. Tornatore created a film so caring, with such a grasp on the value of love, friendship, and family, that it's easy for the film to change someone's life.

    I won't go into story details just yet, because I promise you, if you go in blind, it will be an experience unlike any other.

    This films touches on the unconditional love of a mother and a father figure. It shows what it means to truly care about someone and how a single person can change your life. What it means to lose someone you love and how no one can ever be replaced. It is the very definition of bittersweet.

    Cinema Paradiso is two films: the theatrical cut, and the Director's cut. The theatrical cut is more about friendship, keeping focus on the relationship between Toto and Alfredo. The Director's cut (which I consider superior) adds a whole other layer to the magic, by expanding on the relationship between Toto and Elena. It becomes a movie not just about friendship and love, but just how necessary they are in life. These qualities make us who we are and shape us into the person we are when we die. Although both have the same ending, the Director's Cut ending leaves the viewer with a more bittersweet feeling.

    Consider the different cuts my two favorite movies.

    At the start of this review, I mentioned perfect moments and how this film is full of them. These moments, although at times a bit overly sentimental, never bring the film down. They only enhance my love for the film and make the film that much more poignant each subsequent viewing. The more I watch the film, the more I want to cry at each perfect moment.

    The reaction of the crowd as the films play...

    Alfredo playing the film outside for the crowd to see...

    Every moment with Toto and Alfredo, building one of the best friendships ever in a movie...

    Toto and Elena's first kiss...

    Seeing the villagers 30 years later and just how their lives have evolved...

    Toto facing his past...

    That final scene of unconditional love which always manages to reduce me to tears... I believe this to be the best ending of all time. The most perfect of perfect moments.

    All of these coupled with what I consider to be master composer Ennio Morricone's finest work creates a masterpiece of cinema and certainly one of the most moving films ever made.

    It's a film about the love of film, the love of that significant other, the love of a mother, the love of a man that never got the chance to be a father, and certainly worthy of being my favorite film.

  • ★★★★★ review by Naughty aka Juli Norwood on Letterboxd

    Director Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso is kind of like a "Once Upon A Time" story! Back in the day in order to see a film you had to venture out to your local cinema! In fact it was a pretty big deal and was considered an integral part of life in any given community! It was a place of magic for it brought joy and wonder into everyones lives! When the tears fell there was always someone there with hanky in hand to dry your eyes!

    When movie night came around everyone was one big happy family.. It was the great equalizer.. financial, social, political, religious differences be damned! Now that didn't mean there weren't pranks or fun to be had at someone elses expense that would be far too much to ask of anyone! But nothing you wouldn't experience at any given holiday with a house full of rambunctious relatives lollygagging about! Some of which you regret inviting but you know deep down you'd miss them something awful if they weren't there! The very same sentiment fellow movie goers in the film have for one another!

    The Cinema was a place to socialize, a place to meet your future wife or hubby, it was a place that offered escape from the drudgery of every day life, it was a place that offered a communal cathartic release by way of laughter and tears! It was the source of local news and gossip! Together the audience partakes in journeys encountering experiences they would not otherwise experience outside of the cinema! It is through Cinema that we are transported to far off places, distant worlds and different periods in time! For many the cinema is our armchair travel guide, teacher, mentor and best friend!

    At the heart of the story is the precocious, mischievious imp Toto! Whom channels the inner child within us all! For the duration of the film we live vicariously through the eyes of Toto! Quite frankly I couldn't think of a better guide to take me on such a nostalgic heartwarming journey!

    Naughty Approved!


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