Common Sense Media says
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this charming tale of friendship and the love of movies is the perfect introduction to foreign films for older tweens and young teens. Although it may be a little slow and syrupy for cynical teens, most kids will find the sentimental tale touching. Content-wise, there's little to worry about; a character is badly burned, and there's some on-screen kissing (note: the R-rated director's cut features more explicit sexuality).
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 onscreen 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?
Winner of the 1989 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the bittersweet Cinema Paradiso is a bit slow for children, but anyone with a true love of cinema who doesn't mind some syrupy moments will be charmed.
While in some movies, and certainly in real life, a relationship between an adult man and a child might raise a red flag of concern for parents, director Giuseppe Tornatore takes the wholesome path, and in doing so 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.