Cinema Paradiso tells about the magic of cinema. Set in a small village in Sicily in late 40's, 5-year-old Toto is interested by the work of the projectionist of the local cinema, called Cinema Paradiso. At that time, cinema is the only entertainment the villagers have. They even have to fight to get into the cinema and bring their own chairs. The reaction of the movie-goers when they are watching movies are wonderfully portrayed.
This movie begins with adult Toto, played by Jacques Perrin, now a successful film director, receives a phone call from his mother telling him that Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), the old projectionist, has died, and that the funeral will be held the next day. It's been 30 years since Toto left Sicily. We then see the flashbacks,: friendship between little Toto and Alfredo, and Toto's affair in 1955 with the beautiful Elena. The characters in this movie seem so real and convincing. Here and there we can see daily life of the Sicilians. After watching the documentary 'Giuseppe Tornatore: A Dream of Sicily', it's no wonder; the director is an observant man, and for years he has been watching and filming what Sicilians do. It's true what he says: Cinema is a time machine and a spaceship that can take you travel through time and space.
I love watching the old movie clips and try to identify them, as many as possible: The Gold Rush, La Terra Trema, Ulysses, Les bas-fonds, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, ... and beautiful actress Silvana Mangano singing and dancing. Also very moving is the last scene, where Toto watches a movie given by late Alfredo: a montage of kissing scenes censored on the demand of the local priest who always watches the movies before they are presented to the villagers. I like the continuous scene where Alfredo replaces the 50 lire 'lost' by little Toto, Toto and his mother leave, and suddenly appears this homeless man from the corner of the screen and yells that the square is his. Ennio Morricone did the soundtrack, what more can you ask? I'm also impressed by little actor Salvatore Cascio who plays little Toto.