Written by: Melissa Kusia on March 6th, 2017
BluRay released: March 21st, 2017
Approximate running times: 174 minutes (Director’s Cut), 124 minutes (Theatrical Version)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Versions)
Sound: LPCM 5.1 Surround Italian, LPCM Stereo Italian (Director’s Cut), LPCM 5.1 Surround Italian, LPCM Mono Italian (Theatrical Version)
Subtitles: English (Both Version)
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $39.95
Imagine giving up everything for career aspirations, and losing contact with some of life’s most meaningful fulfillment’s in the process. Essentially, this is what Tornatore asks his audience with Cinema Paradiso. Though the film is not entirely depressing, it does evoke many poignant emotions in the viewer that make for a complex cinematic experience.
The film is mostly told in flashback. In the beginning, a middle-aged Salvatore lies in bed (looking rather distant) with a lover when the phone rings. The woman answers the phone and tells Salvatore that a man named Alfredo has died. From this point on, the audience experiences Salvatore’s life from child to young adult. With his father, away at war (later discovered dead) and only his moody mother and sister for company, young Salvatore attempts to break away from reality by going to the cinema. Alfredo, the sometimes gruff but always lovable projectionist, befriends Salvatore and becomes his mentor. Alfredo and his wife cannot have children, thus Salvatore fills that void.
As time goes on, Salvatore begins to work with Alfredo to support his family. Years pass and Salvatore grows into young adulthood. His love for cinema is still as strong; however, his heart turns to Elena, the young daughter of a wealthy business man. Naturally, the two falls in love and in his heart, he knows that Elena is the love of his life. However, misunderstandings prevent them from having a future together. It is in these rough times that Alfredo tells Salvatore to leave the village and never come back. He commands him to use his love for film to his benefit and forget his former life. With a great deal of hesitation, Salvatore does just this. The message of Alfredo’s death leads him back to his home many years later, and he is allowed to relive memories and reunite with his family and friends. Revisiting the past brings Salvatore both content and heartbreak.
Cinema Paradiso is a film that accomplishes many tasks. It brings the magic of the movies into perspective, encourages smiles and tears, but it ultimately forces the viewer to look at their own life. Salvatore did in fact make it as a very successful film director; however, he also missed out on some of the most important parts of living. Even at the beginning of the film, it is clear that Salvatore is quite unsatisfied with his flings and feels utterly alone. Not only has he not seen his family and friends for a number of years, but he also loses the love of his life in the process. It was clear that Salvatore loved his work, but ultimately ached for stable relationships that he could not obtain after leaving his village.
Note: The BluRay portion of this review was written by Michael Den Boer
Each version of this film is presented on their own 50 GB dual layer BluRay’s and both versions are presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The source of both of these transfers is a restoration from the film’s original camera negative. This was also source that was used for Arrow Academy’s UK BluRay release. Disc one contains the theatrical cut of the film and disc two contains the director’s cut of the film. Grain looks natural, black levels look solid, details look crisp and there are no issues with DNR or compression. It should be noted that this film features clips from other films and the quality of these moments vary from source to source.
Extras for this release are spread over two discs.
Extras on disc one include, the original director’s cut trailer for the film (1 minute 40 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), a featurette titled The Kissing Sequence (7 minutes 1 second, in Italian with English subtitles), a making of documentary tilted A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise (27 minutes 26 seconds, in Italian and French with English subtitles), a documentary about Giuseppe Tornatore titled A Dream of Sicily (54 minutes 45 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with Italian cinema expert critic Millicent Marcus and Giuseppe Tornatore.
The extra tilted The Kissing Sequence features comments from Giuseppe Tornatore who provides background on real life events which help inspired this scene and all of the film’s which are featured in this scene are listed in this extra.
Topics discussed in the extra titled A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise include, the origins of this film, the characters, the cast, working with children, key moments, locations, how the film’s lack of promotion affected this film’s box office, reaction to the film and Philippe Noiret and Salvatore Cascio discuss preparation for their roles.
The extra titled A Dream of Sicily includes comments from Giuseppe Tornatore and directors Francesco Rosi and painter Peppino Ducato. This extra also features extracts from Giuseppe Tornatore’s early home movies.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the role symbolism plays throughout the film, the visuals, Ennio Morricone and the score for the film, themes explored in the film, most notably loneliness, the meaning of the film’s title, the cast, Federico Fellini’s influence and Millicent Marcus’s thoughts about the film. This audio commentary also features comments from Giuseppe Tornatore who provides an insightful and detailed overview of the film.
Extras on disc two include, Arrow Video’s 25th anniversary re-release trailer (1 minute 24 seconds, in English).
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a thirty-two-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Stolen Kisses: Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso written by Pasquale Iannone, Behind the Scenes Gallery, Projectionists Note and information about the transfers. Overall Cinema Paradiso gets a phenomenal release from Arrow Academy that is superior in every way to all previous North American home video releases for this film, highly recommended.
Theatrical Version Screenshots