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Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1989)

Cinema Paradiso, Cinema Paradiso: Extended Directors Cut

A celebration of youth, friendship, and the everlasting magic of the movies.

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 169 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15


‘Cinema Paradiso’ is a movie all about what movies are all about, if you get my drift. It’s romantic, it’s nostalgic, it’s funny, it’s soppy, and it should touch a chord with everyone who’s ever loved the experience of settling down in their local cinema and waiting for the curtains to open and lights to fade.

The film tells the story of Salvatore, an Italian bloke whose love of all things cinematic has shaped his life ever since he was an ankle-biter. We see him in the film’s first segment as a cheeky kiddy-winkle (played by Salvatore Cascio) who spends his mum’s loose change on catching whatever’s on at his local village movie theatre. Eventually, he grows to form a firm friendship with the place’s ageing projectionist Alfredo (Phillipe Noiret) and, by the time he’s moved into his teenage years and is being played by Marco Leonardi, the old man has effectively become a father to him.

It effectively becomes a familiar coming-of-age yarn as our protagonist loses his virginity, falls in love (in that order), experiences rejection, the pleasure and pain of coupledom, and – this being Italy – the all-out inconvenience that is national service. Then, in the film’s third and final section, he returns to his home town after a lengthy absence, this time played by Jacques Perrin and, somewhat disconcertingly, looking a bit like Robert Kilroy-Silk.

This director’s cut version has been criticised in places for shifting much of the focus away from Salvatore and Alfredo and onto his relationship with adolescent sweetheart Wotshername. Where the original offering was left more or less open-ended, this one adds almost an hour of once-deleted material onto the final third, and pulls the point of the whole thing away from the cinema centrepiece in an attempt to add some degree of closure to Salvatore’s romantic anguish. The problem is, as those of us who’ve seen the original know, the extra stuff just isn’t necessary: the film was already a classic.

Thankfully, the somewhat self-indulgent level of directorial tampering doesn’t detract too much from what is a tremendous piece of film-making. It’s touching, sets itself extremely high standards and, given that much of it looks a lot like an extended Dolmio ad, might even make you feel a little peckish. It’s a film that’s just like mama used to make.

It's Got: A maths teacher who slams a pupil’s head against the blackboard for each wrong answer – you just don’t seem to get good ol’ fashioned violence like that in the classroom nowadays.

It Needs: A LOT of shooshing if there’s to be any hope of silencing a particularly rowdy cinema audience.

DVD Extras This 2-disc collector’s edition gives the chance to watch either the 118-minute original theatrical version or the newly-available 168-minute director’s cut. There’s also a filmography on the director and an eight-page booklet providing a bit of background info on the film. As an interesting aside, the original version has a ‘PG’ certificate, but the director’s cut is bumped up to a ‘15’ thanks to some brief smut. DVD Extras Rating: 5/10


A delightful piece of cinema, made for the cinema, about the cinema. Did I remember to use the word “cinema”?