• Cinema Paradiso (Arrow Academy) 4k UHD Review

    Released by: Arrow Academy
    Released on: December 8th, 2020.
    Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
    Cast: Philippe Noiret, Jacques Perrin, Antonella Attili
    Year: 1988
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    Cinema Paradiso – Movie Review:

    “A celebration of youth, friendship, and the everlasting magic of the movies.”

    Set in Sicily before the advent of television, Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso introduces us to Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), the projectionist at the titular cinema, and a boy named Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio), who befriends him. Salvatore’s home life isn’t particularly exciting and so he spends an inordinate amount of time at the local movie house. Initially Alfredo is annoyed by the boy’s presence but before too long, he warms to the kid. As such, the two of them spend every night up there in that booth, Alfredo grappling with the massive projected to try to keep the show running smoothly and Salvatore taking in all the sights and sounds that the movies have to offer.

    There’s more to it than that. Any time a new movie comes into town, the first person to see it play is Father Adelfio (Leopoldo Trieste). He rings a bell anytime something he deems inappropriate shows up on screen, and the scene is then trimmed from the print. The different people that live in the town show up all the time to enjoy one another’s company. Some of them yell at the characters in the films, others watch in reverence. Some come to find romance, others drink alone in the dark. All of this plays out through flashbacks as Salvatore, now an adult (and played by Jacques Perrin), has become a director himself. When he learns of Alfredo’s death he journeys from Rome back to his small home town to pay tribute. We also see Salvatore grow from a boy to a teenager, fall in love, and begin to find himself as he matures.

    Cinema Paradiso is a very touching film, a look back to an era when people left their homes to be entertained, to escape from it all. As this takes place in the age before television took some of the magic out of the theatrical experience, there’s a certain sense of charming naiveté to all of this, but it’s infectious. While the spirit of Fellini runs through the film and would appear to have been a pretty big influence on the picture, Giuseppe Tornatore infuses enough of his own personality into the picture that it easily stands on its own. There is humor here but there’s good character development, solid location photography and impressive art direction. The fact that it’s all set to one of Ennio Morricone’s best scores of the eighties doesn’t hurt things either, while the performances are strong across the board.

    Note that Arrow has included both the original theatrical cut of the movie on their UHD disc and the director’s cut on the included Blu-ray (which is obviously not in 4k). There are quite a few noticeable differences between the two cuts, not the least of which is how the longer director’s cut delves deeper into Salvatore’s attempts at romantic conquest. This has a big effect on Alfredo’s character for reasons that involve his attempts to keep Salvatore away from the young woman who becomes the object of his affections. There’s also more with director Salvatore Di Vita (Jacques Perrin), extended sequences in the flashback scenes and a fair bit more. There are times where the theatrical version does seem to flow better, but this is one of those movies where both versions are valid and it’s a shame that the director’s cut wasn’t included here in 4k as well.

    Cinema Paradiso – 4k UHD Review:

    Cinema Paradiso arrives on UHD from Arrow Academy on a 100GB disc in a 4k transfer of the original 35mm negative framed at 1.66.1 widescreen in an HEVC / H.265 encoded 2160p with HDR and Dolby Vision enhancement. The picture quality is gorgeous, the colors really popping without looking to have been artificially boosted at all. Black levels are nice and deep and detail is frequently outstanding, even in the film’s many dark interior scenes. It really is a beautiful presentation, with the added depth and texture that the format offers enhancing the viewing experience in a pretty big way.

    Italian language is provided in a DTS-HD 5.1 option as well as an LPCM 1.0 track. Optional subtitles are provided in English. The mono track sounds fine, it gets the job done, while the 5.1 remix opens things up, particularly Morricone’s score, in interesting ways. Otherwise, it mostly just spreads out the odd sound effect and the score while keeping the dialogue upfront in the mix. Regardless of which option you go for, the dialogue is clean, clear and properly balanced and there are no noticeable issues with any hiss or distortion.

    Extras on disc one of this release start with an audio commentary with director Giuseppe Tornatore and Italian cinema expert critic Millicent Marcus over the theatrical cut of the movie. It’s Marcus that does most of the talking here, Tornatore’s comments are cut into the track when and where they are applicable, but don’t let that dissuade you. Marcus has clearly not only done his research but developed a huge affection for the picture, so his discussion of its merits, the different versions that exist, the actors that populate the picture and its locations is as infectiously enthusiastic as it is immensely informative.

    From there we move on to a series of featurettes that explore the film, starting with a fifty-five minute documentary entitled A Dream Of Sicily. This piece examines and details the career of director Giuseppe Tornatore and is made up of interviews with director, selections from a few of his early home movies and newly recorded interview footage with contemporaries like director Francesco Rosi and painter Peppino Ducato. Like the film itself, there’s a sense of nostalgia here with Tornatore’s comments and getting the chance to see a nice selection of his early material helps to accentuate that. It’s an interesting piece that sheds some welcome light on the filmmaker and his talents. Plenty of Ennio Morricone’s music is used throughout this piece as well, which is a nice touch.

    A Bear And A Mouse In Paradise is a twenty-seven minute documentary on the origins of Cinema Paradiso with insight into the important characters of Toto and Alfredo. This is made up of interviews with actors Philippe Noiret and Salvatore Cascio as well as director Tornatore. It’s interesting to see the two actors, now obviously grown men, looking back on their experiences working on this picture and reflecting on what it meant to them.

    In a seven-minute segment called The Kissing Sequence Giuseppe Tornatore talks about how and why the kissing scenes in the movie turned out the way that they did. Pertinent clips from each example are used throughout the piece. Given that this is probably the most famous scene in the movie, or at least one of them, it makes sense that it would be centered out like this. Interesting stuff, there’s a lot more to this than you realize when watching the movie for the first time.

    Rounding out the extras on the UHD disc is a trailer for the feature, animated menus and chapter selection.

    The only extra feature on the Blu-ray disc, aside from the director’s cut of the film, is a theatrical trailer.

    As only a test disc was supplied for review we can’t comment on the packaging or any inserts that may have been included with this release.

    Cinema Paradiso - The Final Word:

    Cinema Paradiso is a veritable love letter to the communal movie going experience that once was, a time when groups of people got together to enjoy the magic that projected celluloid could offer as a means of escaping the daily grind. It’s a warm, nostalgic piece of filmmaking but so too is it a beautiful looking film full of excellent performances. Arrow’s UHD offers a very nice upgrade of the theatrical cut of the film, presenting it with a gorgeous new 4k transfer, carrying over all of the extras from the past Blu-ray edition. Ideally the director’s cut would have been presented in 4k as well, but this is still a very nice release overall.

    Click on the image below for full sized Cinema Paradiso Blu-ray screen caps!