- Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, Antonella Attili
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Cinema Paradiso offers a nostalgic look at films and the effect they have on a young boy who grows up in and around the village movie theatre in this Italian comedy drama, based on the life and times of screenwriter/director Giuseppe Tornatore. The story begins in the present as a Sicilian mother pines for her estranged son, Salvatore, who left many years ago and has since become a prominent Roman film director who has taken the advice of his mentor too literally. He finally returns to his home village to attend the funeral of the town’s former film projectionist, Alfredo.
In so doing, he embarks upon a journey into his boyhood just after World War 2 when he became Alfredo’s unofficial son. In the dark confines of the Cinema Paradiso, the boy and the other townsfolk try to escape from the grim realities of post-war Italy. The town censor, who is also the priest, ensures nothing untoward appears onscreen, invariably demanding that all kissing scenes be edited out. One day, Salvatore saves Alfredo’s life after a fire, and then becomes the new projectionist. A few years later, Salvatore falls in love with a beautiful girl who breaks his heart after he is inducted into the military. Thirty years later, Salvatore has come to say goodbye to his life-long friend, who has left him a little gift in a film can. In 2002, over a decade after the film’s original release, Tornatore brought the original 170-minute director’s cut to American screens for the first time.