Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Cinema Paradiso (1988)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Cinema Paradiso (1988, It./Fr.) (aka Nuovo Cinema Paradiso)

In writer/director Giuseppe Tornatore's sentimental homage to the movies, and a look back to boyhood, that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film:

  • the image of young Salvatore "Toto" Di Vita (Salvatore Cascio as child) peeking through a curtain during the projection of Verso La Vita (1936) in Cinema Paradiso, as the village priest Father Adelfio (Leopoldo Trieste) watched - and rang a bell (to alert the projectionist Alfredo (Philippe Noiret)) every time there was an image or scene that needed to be censored and deleted
  • the reprimand scene when young "Toto" was disciplined by his mother Maria (Pupella Maggio) for lying about the family's fifty lire of milk money: ("It got stolen") - and instead spending it at the theatre: ("You spent it at the movies...Movies, always movies!"); the young boy was saved from a beating by Alfredo, who covered up for him and claimed that the boy lost the money in the theatre (after being admitted for free)
  • the scene of teenaged projectionist Salvatore (nicknamed Toto) (Marco Leonardi as teenager) of the local Cinema Paradiso movie theatre being advised by his loving, blinded mentor/surrogate father Alfredo to leave the small Sicilian town of Giancaldo (and go to Rome), and to never return or look back: ("Get out of here. This land is cursed. Living here day after day. you think it's the center of the world. You believe nothing will ever change. Then you leave for a year or two. When you come back, everything's changed, the thread's broken. What you came to find isn't there. What was yours is gone. You have to go away for a long time, many years before you can come back and find your people. The land where you were born. But not now, it's not possible. Right now, you're more blind than I was....Life isn't like in the movies. Life is much harder. Get out of here! Go back to Rome. You're young and the world is yours. And I'm old. I don't want to hear you talk anymore. I want to hear others talking about you.")
  • further words of advice from Alfredo to Salvatore at the train station ready to depart the town: ("Don't come back. Don't think about us. Don't look back. Don't write. Don't give in to nostalgia. Forget us all. If you do and you come back, don't come see me. I won't let you in my house. Understand?"). Toto then thanked Alfredo: ("Thank you. For everything you've done for me.") Alfredo's last words were: ("Whatever you end up doing, love it. The way you loved the projection booth when you were a little squirt")
  • the euphoric scene of middle-aged, prominent Italian film director Salvatore Di Vita (Jacques Perrin) returning to his childhood, small-town Sicilian home of Giancaldo after 30 years to revisit the condemned Cinema Paradiso theatre in the town square (where he was a projectionist through his teenaged years), when it was destroyed to make way for a city parking lot
  • Salvatore's recalling of a short romance with a rich banker's pretty daughter, a blonde, blue-eyed classmate named Elena Mendola (Agnese Nano) - when he was keeping vigil outside her window for 100 nights, and then Elena's miraculous appearance after he had given up hope, when she came to him in the projectionist booth and kissed him lovingly - making him forget his responsibilities when the film reel ran out causing patrons to complain: ("The movie's over. Turn the lights on")
  • Elena's and Salvatore's reunion during a hot summer night when he was lying on his back and looking at the sky during the outdoor screening of Ulysses (1954) starring Kirk Douglas, imagining a Hollywood romance and kiss with Elena (one similar to all the scenes excised by the priest from the projected reels). He asked himself: ("When will this rotten summer end? In a film, it'd already be over. Fade-out: cut to storm. Wouldn't that be great?") The skies suddenly opened up with pouring rain as Elena appeared out of nowhere above him and began hungrily kissing him. Astonished, he asked: "Elena -- But when?" She told him: "Today. You can't imagine the excuses I made up to come here."
  • 30 years later in town to attend the funeral of his kind-hearted mentor/surrogate father Alfredo, his widow presented Salvatore with a gift of one last reel of film, which he took back with him to Rome and screened
Grown-Up Salvatore Viewing the Censored Snippets Film Reel
  • the viewing of the reel, with all of the excised and censored kisses (presented in an amorous montage - two stills shown above) that the village priest Father Adelfio (Leopoldo Trieste) had ordered snipped from dozens of films shown there during Toto's childhood - the images brought tears to his eyes

Young Salvatore
"Toto" Di Vita

Reprimand of Young Toto by His Mother Maria

Advice to Salvatore (Toto) From Mentor/Surrogate Father Alfredo

Romance with Elena

Kissing in Pouring Rain


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