Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso

This film is like a cloud that hovers above you, comforts you, makes you laugh, and then as it passes over, you’re covered in sadness and nostalgia. Cinema Paradiso is one of those sensitive, sentimental, and unyielding films that you feel more than you can see. That’s not to say it isn’t visually charming. The projection booth, the striking and unforgettable black-and-white films, the noisy and smoked theatre, the seats that crowded it, and the kinds of people sitting on them. It all suddenly seeps under your skin and becomes a physical part of you – unwilling to let go.

What emerges out of this is a breathtaking and emotional film about life. As enraptured is Salvatore Di Vita by films and his relationship with Alfredo, you feel a quiet yearning growing in you to be there with them. Go into that projection room to learn how to operate it, watch through a square hole in the wall as it projects on the screen, sit next to a lonely man mouthing all the words of the film before it actually happens, feel the dream-images on the screen ignite all the childlike passions you had, curse and yell when the film’s about to end and you don’t want it to. The hall that is home to the world of cinema makes a special home in your heart. That’s Salvatore Di Vita’s childhood. His first job, his first love, his first heartbreak, his first becoming as an adult.

The film is beautifully made as it unmasks all such phases of life. I think it’s a mistake to see them as phases; as something that possesses an end right from the start. Rather they’re shades that intensify and wrap you in your happiest and saddest moments. Then you learn to let them go not because they no longer serve you but because you don’t serve them. Life is not sorrow or misery or pain, amid films of this kind, but it is love, wisdom, and stillness that we build the capacity for – for a reality that exists outside of the cinema hall.