Cinema Paradiso

Italy/France 1988, 124 mins
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore

Over the years, it became commonplace for Morricone’s scores to be the best thing about a film or programme, whether it was the delicate ‘Chi Mai’ for Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s Maddalena (1971) or the pulsating theme for the 1985 German TV series, Via Mala. It was fitting, therefore, that he should be asked to provide the accompaniment for that most glorious celebration of the cinematic snippet, the ‘kiss montage’ in Giuseppe Tornatore’s heartfelt paean to the magic of the movies.

Echoing the relationship between projectionist Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) and young film fan Toto (Salvatore Cascio), Morricone wrote the ‘Love Theme’ with his son, Andrea, and its tender strain of melancholic nostalgia captures the essence of both the story and the maverick Morricone’s sometimes overlooked gift for traditional orchestral melody. Tornatore also recruited the composer for The Legend of 1900 (1998) and Malèna (2000), which respectively brought a Golden Globe win and another Oscar nomination.
David Parkinson,

Giuseppe Tornatore’s film is sentimental-romanesque: it begins emblematically with word of a death and a funeral motivating a journey into the past; we then dissolve from present-day Rome, where Salvatore (Jacques Perrin), the middle-aged protagonist, is some undesignated force in the film industry, to the Sicilian village of his birth.

This flashback, beginning during the war, in which the boy’s unseen father is killed, centres on the local picture house, around which Salvatore’s life revolves, and on its projectionist Alfredo, played by Philippe Noiret in a manner worthy of French pre-war character acting. Alfredo is a surrogate parent; and subsequently, after being blinded in a horrific fire, he places his professional mantle, imbued with magic, on Salvatore’s shoulders. Eventually, though, it is Alfredo who persuades Salvatore that he must seek wider horizons.

Cinema Paradiso certainly contains a rich collection of archival snippets, but these do not, save perhaps for a couple of early glimpses of title cards to Renoir and Visconti, evoke an aura of self-congratulatory film buffery. Rather, they interact with Tornatore’s elaborately detailed creation of a world in which everyday life is enhanced by the folklore of the movies.

Thus, the lottery winner, who will later finance the cinema’s rebuilding, reacts to the good news by falling, like a character from René Clair, into a faint; and, to only half-ironic effect, the adolescent Salvatore’s first romance is celebrated with a view of the couple running hand in hand through an immense cornfield – and here, as elsewhere, Ennio Morricone’s bittersweet score contributes substantially to the emotional effect.

More affectingly than did Ettore Scola at the climax of Splendor, with its forced invocation of It’s a Wonderful Life, Tornatore, who is still in his early thirties and here making only his second feature, establishes a Capraesque fantasy of communal existence. The fantasy, though, is not the whole story: hardship and poverty are not glossed over, and the coda makes it evident that material conditions have changed for the better, even though the abandoned Paradiso is about to be bulldozed into a car park.

The elegiac quality lies not so much in the cinema’s destruction as in Alfredo’s earlier regretful avowal to his departing protégé that ‘Life isn’t like the movies’. Hearteningly, though, Cinema Paradiso itself possesses enough command and self-conviction to demonstrate that movies can still manage to manifest an alternative universe.
Tim Pulleine, Sight & Sound, Winter 1989-90

Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Production Companies: Cristaldi Film, Les Films Ariane
In association with: Rai Tre, TF1 Films Production
In collaboration with: Forum Pictures
Producer: Franco Cristaldi
Associate Producer: Alexandre Mnouchkine *
RAI Representative for the Production: Gabriella Carosio
Production Managers: Aldo Buzzanca, Eleonora Comencini
Production Inspectors: Salvo Lupo, Aureliano Luppi
Production Organiser: Mino Barbera
Production Co-ordinator: Riccardo Caneva
Accountant: Alba Maria Ruggeri
Administration: Nestore Baratella, Elisabetta Gizzi
Post-production Co-ordinator: Lillo Capoano
Co-ordinating Secretary: Carla Pettini
Production Secretaries: Francesco Liberati, Bruno Morganti
Assistant Director: Giuseppe Giglietti
2nd Assistant Director: Pietra Tornatore
Script Supervisor: Jacqueline Perrier
Screenplay: Giuseppe Tornatore
Script Collaborator: Vanna Paoli
Story: Giuseppe Tornatore
Director of Photography: Blasco Giurato
Camera Operator: Giuseppe Di Biase
1st Assistant Operator: Carlo Passari
Assistant Operator: Fabio Lanciotti
Gaffer: Neno Brescini
Electricians: Elio Tolles, Giuseppe Sciarra
Key Grip: Giuseppe Petrignani
Grips: Claudio Diamanti, Doriano Torriero
Stills Photography: Luca Biamonte
Special Effects/Set Construction: Fratelli Corridori
Special Effects: Danilo Bollettini
Graphics: Elena Green
Lion Animation: Alvaro Passeri
Editor: Mario Morra
Assistant Editor: Ida Cruciani
2nd Assistant Editors: Luca Montanari, Stefano Quaglia
Production Designer: Andrea Crisanti
Assistant Art Directors: Marina Zalapi, Fabio Bonzi
1st Properties: Alberto Michettoni
2nd Properties: Marcello Molfo
Period Props: Enzo Lo Medico, Filippo Lo Medico
Construction Crew Supervisors: Benito Isonardi, Raffaele Pantaleo
Construction: Marco Maggi, Porfirio Perrone
Painter: Oreste Quercioli
Costumes: Beatrice Bordone
Assistant Costumer: Luigi Bonanno
Make-up: Maurizio Trani
Assistant Make-up: Laura Borzelli
Hairdresser: Paolo Borzelli
Titles/Opticals: Penta Studio
Colour Technician: Giancarlo Mammetti
Music: Ennio Morricone
Love Theme: Andrea Morricone
Music Performed by: Unione Musicisti di Roma
Solo Violin: Franco Tamponi
General Co-ordinator for Music: Enrico De Melis
Music Editor: General Music
Music Engineer: Franco Finetti, Forum Studios (Rome)
Direct Sound: Massimo Loffredi
Boom Operator: Giulio Viggiani
Sound Re-recording: Alberto Doni
Dubbing Supervisor: Cesare Barbetti
Dubbing Mixer: Stefano Nissolino
Sound Effects: Sound Track
Dubbing Assistant: Anna Bargagli
Repertory Film Research: Vanna Paoli

Philippe Noiret (Alfredo)
Jacques Perrin (Salvatore Di Vitta)
Antonella Attili (young Maria)
Enzo Cannavale (Spaccafico)
Isa Danieli (Anna)
Leo Gullotta (bill sticker)
Marco Leonardi (Salvatore as an adolescent)
Pupella Maggio (Maria)
Agnese Nano (Elena)
Leopoldo Trieste (Father Adelfio)
Salvatore Cascio (Salvatore as a child)
Tano Cimarosa (blacksmith)
Nicola Di Pinto (madman)
Roberta Lena (Lia)
Nino Terzo (Peppino’s father)
Nellina Lagana
Turi Giuffrida
Mariella Lo Giudice
Giorgio Libassi
Béatrice Palme
Ignazio Pappalardo
Angela Leontini
Mimmo Mignemi
Margherita Mignemi
Giuseppe Pellegrino
Turi Killer
Angelo Tosto
Concetta Borpagano
Franco Catalano
Vittorio Di Prima (Italian voice dubbing/Philippe Noiret)
Cesare Barbetti (Italian voice dubbing/Jacques Perrin)
Vittoria Febbi (Italian voice dubbing/Brigitte Fossey)

Italy/France 1988
124 mins


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Sun 1 Aug 15:10; Wed 25 Aug 14:30
The Sounds of Ennio Morricone
Mon 2 Aug 18:10
A Fistful of Dollars (Per un pugno di dollari)
Mon 2 Aug 20:45; Sat 7 Aug 11:30; Tue 10 Aug 20:50; Mon 30 12:20
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Thu 5 Aug 20:45; Tue 10 Aug 17:45; Wed 25 Aug 17:50
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Fri 6 Aug 17:45; Tue 24 Aug 14:30
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Fri 6 Aug 20:50; Tue 24 Aug 20:50
For a Few Dollars More (Per qualche dollaro in più)
Sat 7 Aug 14:00; Sun 22 Aug 12:10; Mon 30 Aug 15:00
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo)
Sat 7 Aug 17:10; Sun 29 Aug 18:20; Mon 30 Aug 18:15
White Dog
Sat 7 Aug 20:50; Fri 20 Aug 18:10; Fri 27 Aug 20:45
Once upon a Time in the West (C’era una volta il west)
Sun 8 Aug 12:00; Fri 27 Aug 14:00; Tue 31 Aug 14:00
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Sun 8 Aug 15:10; Thu 12 Aug 20:30; Thu 26 Aug 18:00
Days of Heaven
Mon 9 Aug 21:00; Tue 31 Aug 17:50
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Wed 11 Aug 20:50; Thu 19 Aug 14:15; Mon 23 Aug 21:00; Tue 31 Aug 20:45
The Hateful Eight
Sun 15 Aug 15:00; Sun 22 Aug 18:00
Once upon a Time in America
Tue 17 Aug 17:40; Sat 28 Aug 11:20
The Legend of 1900 (La leggenda del pianista sull’oceano)
Sat 21 Aug 11:50; Sun 29 Aug 15:10
Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso)
Sat 21 Aug 14:30; Thu 26 Aug 14:30

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
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