Blu-ray Review – Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Set in Sicily, Italy, Cinema Paradiso details the life story of a young boy, Toto and his unique relationship with Alfredo, the projectionist at his local cinema. The story spans over many years covering Toto’s life as a child, a young adult and finally as an adult returning home after 30 years.

My review of this film may come across as biased, but this film is wonderful! I had never heard of this film until I received the 25th Anniversary edition from Arrow Films and after skimming the plot, I knew then that I would love it. Two years ago I took up a second job, volunteering as a projectionist at my local cinema, so seeing Alfredo working in the projection booth was a delight to watch; his speech about his sense of achievement when he hears a packed house roar and laugh, I knew exactly what he was saying.

The film has many wonderful elements to it; the small village and all of its wonderful characters, we see into the lives of a crazed homeless man who believes he owns the town square or the relationship between the upper-class woman and the blue collar worker. With the story flashing back and forth from Toto’s childhood to his present day we are delightfully reunited with these characters regularly throughout the film.

The working relationship between Toto and Alfredo is the film’s main accomplishment, on the accompanying documentary the duo are referred to as “The Bear and the Mouse”, very fitting. Alfredo teaches tricks of the projection trade to Toto in one of the most smile inducing scenes between the two; when the cinema turns away a large crowd from the overcrowded cinema, Alfredo shows Toto a wonderful trick by reflecting the light from the projector, sending a second projection of the film onto the village’s square. This could possibly be the Oscar award winning moment of the film, a scene filled with so much joy suddenly turning to turmoil at a moment’s notice.

This review is based upon the Cinema Paradiso 25th Anniversary Remastered Edition Blu-ray released from Arrow Films. The set includes the newly restored print taken from the original camera negative. It also gives you both versions, the 124 minute Cannes Festival theatrical version and the 170 minute Director’s Cut. We’re also treated to some interviews with the director and cast in extras such as “Giuseppe Tornatore’s A Dream of Sicily Documentary” and “A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise Documentary”.

Overall, it’s a wonderful film and great extras to match it! It’s a buy from me!