Cinema Paradiso (1989) — Sharing the love of good movies

“Life isn’t like in the movies. Life… is much harder.”

Andie’s rating: A marvel of the cinema. Simply magical.

Andie’s review: If you haven’t been one of the lucky people with the privilege of experiencing Cinema Paradiso, then you have truly been missing one of the greatest movies ever. It is stunningly beautiful and heart-wrenchingly sad and completely wonderful. This movie falls into the small category of movies that make you genuinely happy and move you to tears and get you so completely immersed in the story that you forget you’re even watching a film. It’s amazing.

The movie starts with an adult Salvatore getting a late night call telling him that his best friend and mentor from childhood, Alfredo, has passed away. Salvatore hasn’t seen Alfredo or the town he grew up in in over 30 years because Alfredo made him promise to leave and never come back. He always felt Salvatore was meant for bigger and better things than their little town. Once Salvatore makes the decision to go back there, we get to see their relationship develop from when Salvatore was a little boy.

Growing up, Salvatore was in love with watching movies. Alfredo was the projectionist at the local theater and Salvatore would visit him to learn how it all worked. Alfredo acted like he was a nuisance, but they quickly became friends.

One night when a fire breaks out in the theater, Salvatore saves Alfredo but not before Alfredo is left blind. So Salvatore and Alfredo run the projection machine together. As Salvatore grows up, he begins to fall in love with a girl named Elena. Alfredo tells him to stand under her balcony and not leave until she comes down and loves him back. He does and she eventually comes out and they begin a relationship.

But Salvatore is soon old enough to join the military and Alfredo urges him to leave the town and go on to better things, so Salvatore says goodbye to his family, Elena and Alfredo and takes off. He and Elena keep in touch and see each other occasionally, but Elena’s father makes the family move before she can get in touch with Salvatore and he loses her forever.

I know it sounds depressing, but really it is a celebration of love and life and the movies. In the final few minutes, I’ve never been so completely filled with happiness and yet crying so hard the same time. It’s a marvelous conclusion to a wonderful movie and if you consider yourself a lover of film even the tiniest bit, you need to see Cinema Paradiso.

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