Arrow Academy is known the U.K. for their classic cinema in a similar vein to Eureka’s Masters of Cinema and the Criterion Collection. Arrow has expanded this line to be released in the U.S. The first film in this line is Cinema Paradiso, an Italian movie from 1988. Read on to find out if it deserves a spot in your collection!
Cinema Paradiso is at it’s essence a love story. It’s a film of three sections. One of a young boy, Salvatore, who falls in love with cinema. The next is when Salvatore, as a teenager, falls in love with a woman. The final one is Salvatore all grown up and successful, and his return back home for a funeral. This film shows a combination of sentimentality, coming of age, love, and loss.
Depending on how you feel about those things will alter your view of the film. At times it’s a little too naive and a little too sweet for my jaded hardened cynicism. However there still were many parts to like about the film. The cast mostly rotates around the villagers and the movie house, which is the titled Cinema Paradiso. This is where they experience film together. The director does a good job of showing different or collective responses of what is happening on the movie screen. Some of the reactions are genuinely funny or sad.
Typically I’m not a fan of child actors but Salvatore during his young ages was a great way to start the film. He is so persistent and shows such an eagerness and love for film that you almost can’t help but like him. In fact he did such a good job that I think the actors who played him later in life didn’t do as good of a job and it made the film a little less interesting. Oh well. The projectionist at the cinema eventually agrees to teach Salvatore how to work the camera and a budding friendship begins.
This is a type of film that one needs to experience, because simply explaining through text does not give the emotional attachment that the film tries to convey. The story is quite basic. You are really watching it not to see where it goes or how it unfolds but to reflect and reminisce yourself on why you love cinema. Or maybe even why you are close to some people and not others, or where your life could have changed for the better or worse. It’s an emotionally introspective movie. I would not say it is necessarily one of my favorite films, but I did like it. And it is certainly one that should be seen by film lovers to decide for themselves.
Arrow usually does a great job with picture transfers and I felt like this was no exception. Everything looked very nice and natural and I didn’t notice anything artificially enhanced. When I first started up the film it seemed a little darker to me but after a few minutes my eyes adjusted and I didn’t really notice anything out of place again. I just thought it was worth mentioning.
For audio options there are English subtitles included. The Director’s Cut has Stereo 2.0 and DTS-HD Master 5.1 Audio. The Theatrical has Mono and DTS-HD Master 5.1. Personally since these movies are dialogue heavy I stick with the 2.0 or Mono options. The voices came through clear and Ennio Morricone’s score was bright and fun.
Newly restored from original negative and presented in two versions – the 124 minute theatrical release and the 174 minute Director’s Cut.
Audio Commentary with Director Giuseppe Tornatore and Italian cinema expert critic Millicent Marcus.
A Dream of Sicily – A 52 minute documentary about the director and home movie excerpts.
A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise – A 27 minute documentary about the making of the film with cast interviews.
The Kissing Sequence
25th Anniversary booklet
Cinema Paradiso Final Thoughts:
Cinema Paradiso is a very good classic film about the love of movies. The Directors Cut kind of drags a little in the middle sections (which were wisely cut in the theatrical) but even at practically 3 hours there is plenty of entertainment value. Arrow Academy did a fine job including both versions on the Blu-ray with exemplary special features and a fantastic transfer. The film is rated as one of the 1,001 films you have to see before you die and Arrow has released the definitive version of the film on Blu-ray. I highly recommend a purchase for those interested on Amazon or other fine retailers.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.