HTF REVIEW: "Cinema Paradiso" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 18, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    Cinema Paradiso
    - The New Version -






    Studio: Miramax
    Year: 1988
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 174 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.66:1)
    Subtitles: English




    A celebration of youth, friendship,
    and the everlasting magic of the movies



    Truly Magnificent!

    [​IMG]

    If I could pick the one single thing I have been
    most passionate of in my lifetime it would be the
    love of film. Ever since I was a child I have been
    held captive by the images I have seen on the silver
    screen. My teen years were spent next to an 8mm
    movie projector as I tried to recreate the movie
    house experience in my home. I even made my own
    home movie shorts using my parent's 8mm camera.
    Now as an adult I spend much of my time still looking
    at celluloid images on my Home Theater system. It
    is for these reasons that I fully connected with
    Cinema Paradiso, an Italian film about a
    young boy's journey into the life of the cinema that
    can best be described as pure "movie magic."

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Set in a provincial, little town in Sicily we meet
    a young boy named Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio) and
    his family as they await the return of the father
    who's gone off to fight in WWII. Salvatore ("Toto")
    spends his afternoons as an assistant to an Italian
    village's only film house owner. Every Friday night
    the village goes to his Cinema to be taken away from
    the simple lives they lead. Toto instantly is enchanted
    by the movies and what they stand for. The young boy
    isn’t content to simply sit amongst the audience and
    watch the film on the screen. Seeking to be part of
    the magic, he seeks out the magician behind the
    tricks and becomes friendly with the projectionist
    Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) who not only teaches him
    the trade but becomes sort of a surrogate father
    to him.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    When the Cinema Paradiso burns down, Salvatore finds
    himself looking after Alfredo. The theater is
    quickly rebuilt and by the time Toto becomes the
    head projectionist there he has matured into a bright
    young man. He soon falls in love with a banker's
    daughter, Elena (Agnese Nano), experiencing the
    simple type of romance he has watched on the screen
    his entire life. Alfredo, concerned for Salvatore's
    well-being, advises him to leave and never return
    again. Salvatore takes the advice and travels to
    the city to become a famous film maker.

    [​IMG]

    Thirty years later the middle aged film director
    (Jacques Perrin) returns to the town to pay respect
    to his deceased friend and learns how the
    townspeople's lives have changed and evolved around
    their beloved cinema. In the process Salvatore
    rediscovers a lost love. I dare anyone not to be
    emotionally moved by the final moments of this film.

    This is the very first time I have seen this film
    in any form. It is my understanding that when
    Cinema Paradiso was released in 1988, Italian
    movie-goers were treated to a much longer cut of
    the film than what was shown to North American
    audiences. For the first time, a New Version
    incorporating 51 minutes of never-before-seen
    footage has been reconstructed for this DVD
    presentation. This is the version I chose to
    watch, and at nearly 3 hours in length, the film
    never seemed to be badly paced. This film has been
    restored quite well as I also was unable to
    distinguish the new material from the original.


    How is the transfer?


    Generally, the transfer looks very good. My
    biggest disappointment was that images never looked
    as sharp as I wanted them to, always looking a tad
    soft and unfocused. Knowing the quality that Miramax
    puts into their releases, I am going to guess that
    this transfer best represents what the original
    print looked like. The film has a dated look
    to it with colors that look slightly washed out
    and flesh tones that run a little too red. There
    is occasional background noise and blemishes
    throughout the picture.

    [​IMG]

    The New Version contains a new Dolby Digital
    5.1 soundtrack that is a little uneven with its
    sound direction. Audio is well presented across
    the front channels with very distinct stereo
    separation. Surprisingly, this re-recorded track
    firmly places dialogue in the center channel with
    absolutely no bleeding. There are also times that
    dialogue cleverly moves across the front channels
    left and right. Problem is, the center channel sort
    of becomes a "catch-all" for most of the film's
    effect noises. The rears occasionally help support
    Ennio Morricone's beautiful score whose charm and
    grace lifts you up and leaves you feeling marvellous.


    Special Features

    [​IMG]

    Released under the Miramax Classics label,
    you have the opportunity to watch either this
    New Version or the Original 1990 Version.
    Note that only the new version contains a 5.1 track,
    while the original retains a normal surround track
    and an added French language track.

    One of the problems you will find is which end
    of this dual-sided DVD contains what movie. Both
    sides of this DVD are labeled as NEW VERSION. This
    may have been an initial printing error on the part
    of the studio. Just so you know, Side A
    contains the NEW version and Side B contains
    the ORIGINAL.

    The only added piece of material is the original
    theatrical trailer
    .



    Final Thoughts

    [​IMG]

    Cinema Paradiso is enchanting, magical and
    absolutely delightful. It is a celebration of
    everything film is about. I can sit here for hours
    and tell you how great a film this is, but yet
    everything I say would probably be an understatement.

    I implore everyone who loves film as much as I know
    you all do to go out and at least rent this utterly
    moving story of friendship, ambition and the
    glittering silver screen. It is one of the finest
    films I have ever had the pleasure to watch.

    For anyone that loves film -- this is a film you will
    love!


    Release Date: NOW


    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
     
  2. Todd Hostettler

    Todd Hostettler Second Unit

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    Since I'm only really interested in the "original" version (wasn't too impressed with the "expanded" edition), I'm curious how the transfer and sound compare to the original HBO release.

    Especially now knowing that the new 5.1 track is limited to the new cut.

    However you see it though, I agree… this is a definite "must own."
     
  3. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    Great review Ron.

    It really is a wonderful film.

    I've only seen the original theatrical release, and after hearing what the director's cut entails - I'm hesitant about it.

    Nonetheless, I'm happy to have both versions with this release - and I'm glad to have traded off the old DVD in time.
     
  4. Dmitry

    Dmitry Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for review Ron, I can't wait for it to arrive!
     
  5. Eric Estrada

    Eric Estrada Agent

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    Thanks Ron for this Review. This is a must to have on DVD and I am glad they have included the original version as well.
     
  6. Jan Andersen

    Jan Andersen Extra

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    Fine review Ron.

    You should have watched the original version though, since it's way better than the extended version.

    All the beauty & the mystery about what happened to Elena that's in the original is completely killed off in the extended version. We get everything spelled out in very big letters, so there's nothing left for the imagination.

    What should have been in the ext. edition, is more footage of Toto as a child, but unfortunately we only get more footage of him as an adolescent and as an adult.
     
  7. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Thanks for the review Ron, although to be perfectly honest I had no clue you would review a movie like this in the first place. [​IMG]

    Ever since I heard this version was being made, it became a "must-buy" for me. I've always wanted to see the new version. It came to Cincinnati at one point, but I missed it due to school obligations. I'll be honest and say that having heard about the added footage, I might like this version better. Count me in the minority of people who loved the movie, but couldn't figure out

    what the hell happened to Elena. It always bugged me she hung Toto out to dry like that.

    Oh well, I have a great friend get this for me at Best Buy.
     
  8. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i'm always happy to see ron reviewing more indie and foreign films! [​IMG]

    this is a great film. i've seen this several times and it always still makes me smile.

    i love watching the audience's reactions when they're in the theater watching the movies and socializing. it totally makes me wish i could be there with them.
     
  9. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Great review Ron, you just motivated me to go and buy this title (haven't been let down by your HRs yet!). I am very thankful that both versions of the film are available - and in the same set! I think it is commendable that we get the chance to watch both versions.

    Now if only we could get the original cut (not director's cut, just the cut that was shown to the rest of the world) of Malena! Come on, Miramax, step up to the plate and give us that movie uncut (it's not even two hours uncut so length shouldn't be a concern!). [​IMG]
     
  10. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    Real Name:
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  11. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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  12. Jan Andersen

    Jan Andersen Extra

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    Yes, released only in Italy and for a short time only.

    There's a reason why the movie was cut shortly after it's relase. And if you compare the two versions you'll se why. The short version is just a way better movie.
     
  13. Rain

    Rain Producer

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  14. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

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    Ah, interesting.
    I had assumed that the extended version and the "original" were the same.

    I'm glad the 'short" and extended are available together, regardless.
     
  15. MichaelPe

    MichaelPe Screenwriter

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    To say that I loved this film would be an understatement. [​IMG]

    In my 2002 Film List (see sig), I've seen & rated almost 300 films, and I only gave one film a score of 10/10. Guess which one? [​IMG]
     
  16. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    Does the disc have a French language track? (BTW, Philippe Noiret dubbed his own dialog)
     
  17. Tommy G

    Tommy G Screenwriter

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    Ron, you've pushed me over the cliff. I've been on the fence about buying this on release date. Now, I'm convinced. Well, I'm off to the coupons and bargains section to read Dave Lambert's weekly roundup to find the best place to pick this up. [​IMG]
     
  18. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    According to the specs, just the ORIGINAL version
    on SIDE B has the French language track.
     
  19. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    Am I correct in assuming that French is the original language for this film?
     
  20. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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