Cinema Paradiso



Charming Italian film about friendship, movies.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: September 11, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1989
  • Running Time: 121 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Mentorship and friendship are the film's themes.


Alfredo is severely burned in a fire. Fighting, hitting, violent scenes from movies.


Kissing, sexual references (director's cut includes more graphic material).

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Cinema Paradiso is a charming tale of friendship and the love of movies that's the perfect introduction to foreign films for 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.

Movie details

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

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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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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