Some movies have the strange effect to be absolutely unattractive when, in fact, they are pretty good. Every person who has seen it pushes you to go watch it but you just don’t feel like it. It seems boring. When, finally, you decide to enhance your cinematographic education and see this thing that seem to be part of the “must see”, you immediately become the person that arrases others to see it.
The French-italian film Cinema Paradiso is very much in this category. When the director, Giuseppe Tornatore, did it, he actually intended it to be an obituary to classical movie theaters and the great period of cinema that he thought was dying. The success of the movie showed him wrong.
This movie is about the destiny of a movie theater in an Italian village in the 1950s. Its dreadful fate is sealed when the old projectionist, that was practically part of the walls of the theater, dies. Not coincidentally, his funeral matches the week where the abandoned theater is to be demolished. But those two deaths bring to light the destiny of a young child of the village, now acclaimed movie director. It’s funny how the story is actually close to the destiny of the film itself: the director celebrated what he thought was dying but it gave birth to a success.
Cinema Paradiso is a truly sensitive film. Not because it’s filled with feelings and emotions but in the way that our senses are all called in. We feel the heat and the dust of a summer in the village square in the South of Italy. When the movie theater is so crowded that they have to get chairs from the houses around, while the rich stand on the balcony, we’re, below them, in the hive of activity.
On top of a nice story with strong characters, it’s this feeling to live their pleasure to get in the cinema to escape miserable lives, their helplessness to see it destroyed or threatened, their gratitude to the people that held it alive at any cost, that make it so special.
So, I urge you to watch Cinema Paradiso and, I know, it doesn’t seem that interesting but, trust me, you’ll enjoy it.