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Saturday, August 09, 2003
 
Cinema Paradiso
Matthew Hoy writes: " finally got around to watching the new version of "Cinema Paradiso." Usually the director's cut is better -- i.e. "Blade Runner" -- in this case, however, the original is the one you should watch. I think leaving some things unanswered is better than the answers you end up getting. Anyway, if you rent it watch the old version (the DVD has both versions on it) -- it has a much greater emotional impact."

I'm going to be picking nits, but I'm going to advise you to do something different if you rent it.

Cinema Paradiso is, indeed, an wonderful and extraordinary movie. If you rent it, if you can, watch both versions. They are almost two different movies. But whatever you do, watch the "old" version first. Then the so-called director's cut.

[For what it's worth... the cut that is now being billed as the "director's cut," and what Hoy calls "the new version" isn't new at all -- it was the version that originially hit the theaters in Italy (it's an Italian movie) in 1988. The movie bombed. It was taken back into the studio and 30 odd minutes were cut from it. It was re-released and became a big hit, both there and, later, abroad. It was an art house hit here and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The original version was lost to history until this DVD (except for some movie junkies like yours truly who had years back treked to the library and had read the originial screenplay with his next to non-existent Italian)].

And I agree with Hoy... some things in this story are better left unanswered. However, with the cuts, the shorter version leaves something really big unanswered. Why doesn't Elena come to the Cinema Paradiso before Salvatore/Toto joins the army. In the shorter version, we have no idea and are left confused and unsatisfied. We might not like the answer given in the "director's cut" but it's necessary to the story.

The rest of the "director's cut" should only be seen and known after a full viewing of the shorter version. Some people point to Casablanca, but, I think that the original Cinema Paradiso has the best last scene of any movie, ever. (Yeah, I know, it's the same last scene as in the "director's cut," but this scene in the "director's cut" doesn't have the same emotional impact as it does in the shorter version. Hoy is right on target here.)

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