Nuovo Cinema Paradiso – My hometown theatres.

I wanted to rebuild what the cinema hall used to be once; a sacred place where people used to know each other, to spend time together, to smile, and dream – Director Giuseppe Tornatore.

I started watching films in my school days at an above average level. I watch any kind of cinema starting from Telugu dubbing Chiranjeevi movies, MRRAdha’s classic ‘Rathak kaneer’ to ‘Schindlers list’. But I had the passion to watch them in theatres alone. I watch DVDs with a heavy heart that I could have enjoyed them much in theatre.
Once I remember my father dragged me out of Tamil exam in 4th standard to watch ‘Salangai Oli’ in Muralikrishna. My mother took me to ‘Sakalakala vallavan’ twice. Obviously, when I watched ‘Cinema Paradiso’, I just easily fixed me in that character where the boy’s life is just made up of cinemas, he watched.
The other thing is friendship with a father-like senior [ Like paruthi veeran ] and this film deals with that bonding between a 6 yr old boy Toto and his father-like friend Alfredo.
Nuovo cinema paradiso [ New Cinema paradiso ] 1988/Drama/Italy
Music : Ennio Morricone
Written & Directed by : Giuseppe Tornatore.
The famous Italian director Salvatore gets a call from his mother with a news. He neither called his mother nor visited her for 30 years. But the message takes him back to his hometown. With that his childhood story comes in flashback.

6 years old Toto [ nick name of Salvatore ] helps the local pastor in the church and very passionate about movies. The small town has only one theatre called ‘Cinema Paradiso’. He develops with a middle aged theatre projectionist Alfredo. Though Alfredo initially rejects him in the projection room, due to a deal he allows him to work with him in free time. They develop a strong bonding over the time and due to an issue, a new cinema paradiso is built with Toto as the projectionist. The story then flows with the adult Toto.

Toto falls in love with Elena in college and tries to develop the relation. Alfredo doesn’t want Toto to fall in love and end his life in the small town. Somehow, the love doesn’t become successful and they are separated. Alfredo strongly advices Toto to leave the town and never ever come back for any reasons to pursue his career. Meanwhile, Toto learns to shoot amateur videos.
The 3rd part of the story is the old Toto visiting his home town and spending time with his mother. Toto also finds Elena in the same town and they meet once to talk about their past. Alfredo’s wife gives a parcel and film reel as a gift from Alfredo. Toto watches the reel in his personal projection theatre and runs with tears. He watches the best in that cinema reel which he was passionate in his childhood.
– As any good cinema, this starts from the first shot as you see ‘FRANCO CRISTALDI PRESENTA’. The mesmerising piano + violin music prepares the audience to just attach with the story. As a good narration the movie starts with a flashback, where the movie director rewinds his childhood days in his native.
– The very first scene explains the characters that are introduced. The kid is introduced sleeping in a prayer session where he is supposed to help the pastor. A clever n mischievous boy who is enormously interested in cinema.
– Ennio Morricone needs a special mention for his sparkling score for this movie. He was involved in the movie right from the scripting phase and hence he lived with the story. That is proven in the music. One of the best theme music and soundtracks, in my collection.
– Editing games – Every scene connects with the next scene in a poetic manner.. For ex., The lightning in the first scene changes into the sunlight in the church, the scale blows by a teacher change into the leveling of film reel, small church bell turning into big school bell.. Even when Toto’s mother cries about her husband, the boy is attracted towards a cinema poster.
– Alfredo – A perfect father who is tough in outlook but so soft in nature. He advices Toto not to enter projection operator job but wit a ideal he teaches him. His dialogues are almost made up of cinema dialogues as he watches every film almost 100 times.
– The scene where Alfredo talks to Toto was a fantastic piece. Go away and never come back to this town. This is an important dialog to a person who lives in a small town [ Remember the same dialog in ‘Men of Honour’ for Crawl Basheer from his father.. The intention is not to make the junior to suffer the same as they did in life ].I could understand the reality by being coming from a little town. Little town takes out the energy. The relation between Alfredo and Toto was amazing. A fatherless kid and a childless projectionist.
– The first love is of course shown as just an attraction at the first sight. The girl is not so attractive in this movie, I guess [ otherwise I would have written 2 paragraphs about her 🙂 ].
– The best scene is after 30 years Toto tries to contact his ex lover and the conversation is shown in a single shot.. Zoom in shows the Toto in a public booth and zoom out shows Elena in a silhouette in her window.
– The dialog between Toto’s mother and him after 30 years was a touching one.
– Cinema hall – It’s a part of the people from that Sicily town.I couldn’t resist thinking about my hometown theatres. I am one of the freaks who couldn’t digest cinema theatres changing into malls and marriage halls. My hometown got only one theatre now. 🙁 . The various characters in the movie are excellently portrayed including the theatre owner, pastor, his assistant, a prostitute and whom not.
– The morning school and the forenoon school shots are a beautifully communicated with a noisy children crowd and a silent horse walk.
– The adult Toto tries to impress Elena and the dialogues are nice. Also, the scene which old Toto meets Elena was poetic.
– Most of the dialogues uttered by Alfredo are from old movies and his life style was depicted neatly in the film. He heats his lunch in the old projection light box 🙂

– The cinema hall itself is a character in this movie. The stages it come across and it’s end. I attach with the great theatres that were demolished in my time. [ ex : Ananda theatre in Pondicherry 🙁 ].

I am fortunate to see the directors cut [ 173 mins ] of this movie – it was a treat to watch. I wondered how an Italian cinema has the traces of my childhood. I used to play marbles [ Goli ] in exchange for film stripes and marbles too.. [ Rajini films were costly 🙂 ]
By seeing the cut films Toto adds the dialogue to that and also he collects those films in a box. I see myself in that character and hence my name 🙂 .
– Toto.


  1. Man, i really wonder at your effort, in appreciating the nuances of remarkable films and have the energy to put down your thoughts in so many words, to help us understand the finer points in viewing a film!

    i dont really understand even the meaning of "Montage" song or even other rudimentary filmi jargons, but i am sure ur reflections wud help us in improving our ability to understand world cinema better in the coming months.

    Hats off to your passion!

  2. the film stripscollection was certainly part of the growing up process of most small town boys. i have also done fact i have saved Rs.1.90 over 2 months, also mobilised another Rs.7/- from 6 of my friends to fund for our 'theater', with the help of a light bulb, a magnifier( lens nu solvom). one senior school drop out in our street promised to show us a 'moving cinema' experience with the lens+ the film strips, and so many card board boxes which we gathered. he assured us that the experience would be as good as a Bioscope.but after collecting the hard earned money( all of Rs.8.90,in 1978) he simply vanished for a week to his Grand parents place! bioscope flop, cinema company dissolved……….

  3. Thanks Rajan for your lively comments. Montage is simply explained as succession of various shots [ Kadhai kelu kadhai kelu song is an example ]. Interesting to know about your 'OHO' productions 🙂

    Also, I remember seeing those bioscope films in a bakery box, placed in a front loaded tri-cycle [ 1000-il oruvan paathen ]. Pioneers of short films. Happy Aminjikarai days !

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