Cinema Paradiso Movie Poster Image

Cinema Paradiso



Charming Italian film about friendship has sex, profanity.
Parents recommend
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1989
  • Running Time: 121 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This movie shows how movies transcend cultures, unify a community, and bridge the gap between generations. The importance and benefits of a fatherless child being mentored into a job by someone older is also shown. 

Positive role models

Alfredo takes Toto under his wing despite Toto's constant proclivity toward misbehavior and ends up playing an instrumental role in helping him to grow up and be the successful man he becomes later. Toto learns responsibility by taking over as the projectionist at the Cinema Paradiso. 


Alfredo is severely burned in a fire. Fighting, hitting, violent scenes from movies. A boy in his late teens is punched in the face by a bully and is later revealed to have a black eye. A man who has routinely spat from his seat in the balcony in a theater is hit in the face with feces. An abusive teacher slaps a boy in the head and hits him with a ruler in front of a classroom of children who laugh at him because he doesn't know his multiplication tables. 


Brief shots of exposed breasts in black-and-white movies. While nothing is explicitly shown, a group of young teens is obviously in the act of masturbation while in a theater watching a Brigitte Bardot movie. A man grabs a woman's breasts and starts to moan and grind his body into hers. 


Occasional profanity: "s--t," "a--hole," "son of a bitch," "damn," "ass." A young boy exclaims, "Up yours!" 

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Cigarette smoking, including a scene in which two young children smoke. Wine drinking; some characters appear drunk. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Cinema Paradiso is a 1988 Italian coming-of-age movie in which a young Sicilian boy is taken under the wing of an older man who teaches him about the love of movies and helps him find his purpose in life. It's a charming tale of friendship and the love of movies that's the perfect introduction to foreign films for teens, despite some iffy scenes -- including a scene where young teens are obviously (if not explicitly shown) masturbating in a theater to a Brigitte Bardot movie, and a man who spits on those below him while in the balcony of the theater eventually gets pelted in the face with feces. Expect brief shots of exposed breasts in black-and-white movies. A man grabs a woman's breasts and starts to moan and grind his body into hers. There is some profanity throughout ("s--t," "bitch"), and two kids smoke a cigarette. A man is shown catching on fire in a projection booth and is rescued by a young boy who drags him down the stairs of the burning building. There is also some bullying -- a young boy is slapped in the head and hit with a ruler by a teacher when he doesn't know the answer to a multiplication problem, and a young man is punched in the face by a bully while trying to woo a beautiful woman. 

What's the story?

When something precious is taken from us, we reach for whatever might fill the void it leaves. Altar boy Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio) finds a substitute for the father he lost to war at the movie theater in the Italian film CINEMA PARADISO. In a small town, a priest sitting in the Cinema Paradiso rings a bell. The projectionist, Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), tags the offensive footage for editing. Watching from the shadows is Salvatore. In time Alfredo reluctantly teaches the boy how to operate the projector. But running a machine in the dark, alone, is no life for a boy, he tells him. He has higher hopes for Salvatore. A film reel catches fire one night, burning the theater and badly injuring Alfredo. When the Nuevo Cinema Paradiso opens, Salvatore runs the projector. The patrons cheer at seeing on-screen kissing for the first time, free of censorship. It's a good life, but Alfredo's words haunt Salvatore until finally he leaves to pursue a filmmaking career. Salvatore gains a mentor and Alfredo gains a surrogate son.

Is it any good?


The bittersweet Cinema Paradiso is a bit slow for teens, but anyone with a true love of cinema who doesn't mind some syrupy moments will be charmed.

Director Giuseppe Tornatore takes the wholesome path in showing a relationship between an adult man and a child, and in doing so he demonstrates that age is no obstacle when it comes to friendship. That's a good lesson to share with teenagers who find themselves thumbing their noses at younger kids.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Alfredo helps Salvatore gain the confidence to pursue his passion. Who are your real-life mentors? Families may also want to talk to older children about the gifts they have to share with younger kids.

  • How does the theater -- and the films it shows -- bring the community together and perhaps even connect it to the outside world? 

  • How is this movie a coming-of-age story? What are some examples of other coming-of-age movies? 

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1989
DVD/Streaming release date:March 13, 2001
Cast:Antonella Attili, Enzo Cannavale, Isa Danieli
Character strengths:Integrity
Run time:121 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mature themes

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Parent Written bycineparatodos December 4, 2012

Beware of the PG rating! :-O

BEWARE OF RATINGS. This is for 13+. Netflix's version is not a director's cut, it says "PG" (=nothing to worry about, right?). But it shows a few scenes at the movie theater that were *very* uncomfortable to watch with my 11 and 12 year old daughters. As the camera pans the dark movie theater, you suddenly discover a woman making faces and movements while a man penetrates her from behind standing at the back of the theater. Later, you see a row of little boys masturbating while Birgitte Bardot appears fully naked (curves mostly, but very big on the screen); worse, an older man stops by to scold them and immediately looks at the screen and touches himself as well... A prostitute is taking clients behind a curtain and motions for the next client to go in. (After the other scenes, you won't mind this at all.) As a PG movie, I wished someone had warned me. We talk about issues very openly with our kids, but although I loved the movie (we all did), I thought it was violent to have it just pop up. I might have had younger kids watching it alone being comfortable that it was a PG movie!!! Jeeez...
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Adult Written byChrissy505 October 26, 2011

Good Movie....Wouldn't show it to a 13 year old

the version I saw wasn't the directors cut and it had masturbation and exposed breasts (in a series of film a character was watching). JUST SAYIN. Really good though, we're analyzing it for my freshman english class.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Adult Written byOr April 9, 2008

for the director's cut

The director's cut contains masturbation and sex.


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