“CINEMA PARADISO IS NOTHING MORE THAN A SENTIMENTAL STORY ABOUT A BOY GROWING UP IN A SMALL ITALIAN VILLAGE.” TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT?

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It is not disputed that Cinema Paradiso is not a well recognized and awarded film, after winning many awards such as the Special Jury Prize at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival, considered to be one of the most prestigious awards within the film industry, however I as an audience member cannot help but think that without the superb acting and flawless direction, Cinema Paradiso would not be near as good a film if left just to the story alone. I intend to find out whether the film is just a sentimental story of a boy in an Italian village or if more underpins the film.

Within the opening scene there is a hint of sentimentality, the audience is already being thrown head first in to a heart wrenching tale, without any details, with the line “He will remember” being repeated. The line is repeated by who it turns out is Salvatore Mother, and she is commenting on Salvatore himself, who is in Rome and has not returned to the village in 30 years. After phoning to inform him of the death of Alfredo, the village projectionist and Salvatores oldest friend. “He will be remember”: is this the first clue of what is to come? Hours of emotional flashbacks from the point of view of our protagonist. The film is set in a Sicilian village. Sicily is in the largest island in the south of Italy, and it is known for being less privileged than the rest of Italy but they are very patriotic and families from Sicily can often be traced back hundreds of years and rarely leave. Villages in Sicily are often close-knit communities and this is apparent in Cinema Paradiso, and Sicily is also know for being very religious, this is emphasized by the censorship within the cinema in the village and the constant use of the church within the film. Many people would claim that the film is set around the village, however I believe that it is just the backdrop, this story could be set in any village, town, city or country. The film is not a story of a boy growing up in a village it is the story of friendship and first love, which are the backbones of sentimentality.

“..the film itself is not sentimental as the characters are enjoying the moment, never dwelling upon their fate” (Breaden Goodall, EUFS Programme Autumn 2005) this is a contradiction against Salvatores relationship with his first (and only) love Elena. She haunts his films and thoughts, so as the town and she move on Salvatore remains fixated on her. Within the film Salvatore and Elenas relationship has many of its loose ends tided up, however a few more are created. In the film Alfredo advises the young Salvatore to leave the small town and to go and make something of himself in the “real world”- outside of Sicily, meaning he should follow his love for film, than rather throw it away for a love that’ll never come true, due to the difference in their social classes, meaning Salvatore misses a rendezvous with Elena, which creates the basis for all the feelings within the film; the passionate longing, the absence and the unknowing, however in the directors cut these feelings are changed as people are showed solutions. Salvatores obsession with Elena is highlighted several times, firstly when he reads her letter, not only does he remember it perfectly, as if rehearsed, but during the reading Salvatore plays out many scenes as time passes. The fact that she dominates his thoughts is again brought to our attention when the village watches Ulysses, which then becomes the same film that is shown outside by the sea, as it starts to rain Elena appears out of nowhere and they begin to kiss. The film then cuts to adult Salvatore in Rome, intercut with more images of the two kissing in the rain. I wondered how many of his memories of Elena were true, and whether the weather in Rome (rain) when he was remembering her may have interfered with the actually memory, or whether the fact that it was raining reminded him of this moment, and does he think of her every time it rains?

“Upon Salvatores return to the...
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