Upon watching the entire movie, I was left with an impression that "one cannot have everything in life". There will always be choices to make and something must always be let go, even if it is difficult and painful. In the movie's context, Salvatore both fell in love with Elena and movies but he eventually pursued the latter because of a huge wall that forbade their relationship. For more than thirty years, he searched for Elena but they never found her, eventually leaving him to follow his other passion. He had made a mark in the movie industry as a director and cinematographer but personally, he was in deep pain. He had had strings of relationships with other women before but no one can replace his one true love. In his return to his hometown, he met the people whom he had lived with in the past. He also got together with Elena for a short period of time only to realize that she was already married, was a mother of two, and was happy with her life, although this was not the life that she had dreamt of.
In his return to his life in Rome, he was left with a bequest from Alfredo which is a film reel containing all the censored parts of the movies they had shown before in Cinema Paradiso. He then realized that even though he failed in his relationships for the past years, he had one true friend who had always wanted success and happiness for him above anything.