DVD
Cinema Paradiso
Deluxe Edition

Starring: Philippe Noiret, Jacques Perrin, Antonella Attili and Salvatore Cascio
Arrow Films
RRP: 19.99
FCD243
Certificate: 15
Available 26 March 2007


This multi award-winning homage to the love of cinema tells the story of Salvatore, a successful film director, returning to his home village for the funeral of Alfredo, his old friend who was projectionist at the local cinema throughout his childhood. On learning of Alfredo's death, Salvatore makes the painful decision to return to the village that he left so many years before. The film is told in flashback, with Salvatore remembering his time with Alfredo as well as his first love affair with the beautiful Elena. All the highs and lows that shaped his life come flooding back, as Salvatore reconnects with the community he left 30 years earlier...

Cinema Paradiso (or Nuovo Cinema Paradiso as it is known in it's native Italy) was originally released in 1989. The movie was written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore and reflects his love affair with the cinema, and frustration with how almost overnight people stopped going to the cinema, leaving most town's with empty buildings that were once packed with paying customers.

Even today you can go into any UK town and pick out the building that was once the cinema. It wasn't until recently with more modern multiplexes built on the outskirts of town, that the movie industry has started to thrive again. It could be argued that Alfredo represents the old cinema industry. He is a popular member of the community and has a stable job until the introduction of the TV - at which point he looses his sight and becomes useless - and there is also the fact that Alfredo dies a few days before the demolition of his old workplace is due to commence.

I originally saw this movie in the early '90s while at University and was incredibly moved by the story. I heard that there had been a "Director's Cut" released years ago, but never managed to get around to buying it. I'm almost always disappointed by "Director's Cut" releases - they very rarely add anything that important to the original movie. And, in some cases, they merely put back in a lot of rubbish that should have stayed on the cutting room floor.

So, I watched the standard version of the movie to refresh my memory - again a lump came into my throat and I got all misty eyed all over again (something that very rarely happens to me with movies these days). And then I settled down to the Director's Cut, expecting to see a lot of extended scenes - some that would add to the movie, while others would detract. Boy was I in for a shock. The movie rattled through with hardly any additional scenes and I was starting to wander what was going on. Where were the extra scenes? There was an extended segment when the new Neapolitan boss of the cinema has to run a movie in two cinema in order to meet demand; and there is a scene with the teenage Toto losing his virginity to the village prostitute... and that seemed about it. But, the additional material is included once the adult Toto comes home for Alfredo's funeral.

Cinema Paradiso is unusually in that the version most people will know is actually not the original theatrical release in Italy. It was only when the movie was sold overseas that a shorter version was cut together to make it more accessible to a wider audience. Personally I'm glad of this, because it has allowed me to rediscover a totally new movie from the one I originally fell in love with. The standard edition has a whole chapter of the original tale torn out of it. In the original version of the movie (the Director's Cut) Salvatore manages to find out what happened to the one true love of his life and confront her. Why did she not keep their last appointment? Why did she not write to him and tell him where she had moved to? All these questions are answered in the Director's Cut of the movie. It also throws new light on certain elements of the movie that you had taken for granted - characters whom you thought were one thing suddenly seem to become something else entirely.

Because of this, the viewer is like Salvatore - oblivious to the actions of a character/s whom you thought you knew. For years you've felt one way, and now you realise that other things actually happened that you had no idea about. For me this was like rediscovering the movie all over again. I thought I knew the story, but I only knew half of it. Now I know the whole truth and it was an amazing experience for me as a fan of the standard version of the movie.

Extras include Giuseppe Tornatore: A Dream of Sicily (52 mins featurette looking and the career of the director); A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise (27 mins featurette which features recent interviews with Tornatore, the late Philippe Noiret and Salvatore Cascio); The Kissing Scene (7 mins featurette that includes the final scene from the movie and breaks down each kiss so that we now know which film the clips were taken from and which actors are seen kissing); Trailer for the American theatre release of the Director's Cut of the movie; and a stills gallery set to music from the film.

This four disc collection could easily have been squeezed onto three discs (with the extras split across the two DVDs containing the movies). The fourth disc contains Ennio Morricone's wonderful score. While I bought the original soundtrack years ago, I can't comment on the quality or track listing in this collection as we were not sent the disc with the soundtrack on with our review discs. If it's identical to the original soundtrack release then it's well worth owning.

This is one box set that everyone who claims to be a movie lover should have in their collection. Arrow Films certainly know how to put together a first rate package.

Darren Rea

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