Archive for the ‘Cinema Paradiso (1988)’ Category

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Academy

Release Date: March 21, 2017

Region: Region Free


Theatrical Version02:03:50

Director’s Cut 02:53:31

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio:

Theatrical Version5.1 Italian DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 2290 kbps, 24-bit)

Director’s Cut 5.1 Italian DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 3224 kbps, 24-bit)

Alternate Audio:

Theatrical Version Italian Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 2304 kbps, 24-bit)

Director’s Cut 2.0 Italian Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 2304 kbps, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English (SDH)

Ratio: 1.67:1


Theatrical Version34.98 Mbps

Director’s Cut30.00 Mbps

Notes: This film has seen several DVD and Blu-ray releases, but this new restoration release from Arrow Academy is the definitive release by a wide margin.


Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso (aka Nuovo Cinema Paradiso) tells the story of Salvatore, a successful film director who reminisces about his formative years when he learns about the death of Alfredo—his old friend, mentor, and father surrogate. As memories of his first love affair with the beautiful Elena and all the high and lows that shaped his life come flooding back to him, he decides that he must return home for the funeral… and this is where radical differences between the two versions included in this set come into play.

Both versions can be divided into three separate sections—or three very distinct “acts” if you subscribe to Aristotle’s theories about dramatic structure: The first concentrates on Salvatore’s childhood, the second on his adolescence, and the third on Salvatore’s journey back to his hometown as a successful but unhappy middle-aged man. However, all of these sections are given equal screen time in the director’s cut while much of the third section has been omitted in the theatrical release.

The result is that the award-winning theatrical release and the director’s cut are two very different films that tell two vastly different stories. The trailer advertising the limited theatrical release of the director’s cut (also known as The New Version) boasts that audiences will “discover what really happened to the love of a lifetime” and it certainly deliver’s on this promise—but there’s the rub. The revelation of what happened to Elena is such that it changes the entire meaning of everything that came before it—including the nature of Salvatore’s relationship with Alfredo. This alters the theme and ones experience to such an extent that it is impossible to view the theatrical version in the same way. Those who remember the film as a charming “celebration of youth, friendship, and the everlasting magic of the movies” (as Arrow’s liner notes boldly announce) will forever be disillusioned. The director’s cut is a much darker film with very different themes—and you can’t un-see it.

The truth is that this longer version is probably the better film, and viewers who see it first will likely be shocked that the theatrical version doesn’t utilize the most important scenes in the entire film. But those who were raised watching the original theatrical cut might very well feel that “their” Cinema Paradiso has forever been perverted, and this reviewer falls into the latter category.


The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

Cinema Paradiso marks the US debut of Arrow Academy and they have set the bar quite high with the release. One might compare Arrow’s standard Blu-ray releases to those released by Criterion in that both boutique labels seem put special effort into the presentation of their packaging. This is usually evident before one even takes shrink-wrap off of the case. However, there are a few minor differences. Criterion’s original designs are usually superior to those commissioned by Arrow. However, Arrow more than makes up for this fact by offering consumers a reversible sleeve that makes use of the film’s one-sheet artwork. This release is a good example of this as we find the two Blu-ray discs housed in the same clear Blu-ray case with the aforementioned reversible sleeve offering a choice between Arrow’s new artwork and the film’s original one-sheet design—which is more attractive and the easy choice.

There is also an attractive booklet that replicates the aesthetic of a vintage roadshow program and includes an interesting essay by Pasquale Iannone entitled “Stolen Kisses: Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso,” which is an informative appreciation of the film that discusses the production and the film’s two different cuts (comparing the director’s cut to Apocalypse Now: Redux). Also included in the booklet is a series of “behind the scenes photos from the film and the usual notes about Arrow Academy, the restoration transfer, and cast and crew credits. It is well worth the time that it takes to read through this attractive booklet and it adds quite a bit of value to the release.

[Note: The aforementioned booklet is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

Menu - Theatrical Version

Menu - Director's Cut.jpg

The animated menus utilize footage from the film and music from Ennio Morricone’s score. They are attractive and easy to navigate.


Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Arrow Films has given Cinema Paradiso a much deserved 2K restoration and the results are happily quite satisfactory. In fact, both versions of the film begin with a textual header that includes information about the restoration:

Cinema Paradiso was exclusively restored by Arrow Films for this release. The original 35mm camera negative elements were scanned in 2k resolution at Technicolor Rome, with all grading and restoration work completed at Deluxe Digital Cinema – EMEA, London. Throughout the process, care was taken to ensure that the film’s original texture, details and grain structure remained unaffected by digital processing. Although every effort has been made to present Cinema Paradiso in the highest quality possible, some minor picture issues remain, in keeping with the condition of the original archive materials.” –Opening Header

The Blu-ray transfers of the restoration are of the most excellent quality. Each version is given its own disc at a maxed-out bitrate, and neither version has ever looked as good on home video. Videophiles will be happy to find that the transfer maintains the film’s original filmic texture without sacrificing fine detail—which is really quite impressive for a 25-year-old film. The sharpness of the image is also remarkable and this becomes especially evident in the film’s close and medium shots. The Italian textures of the various buildings come across admirably as do those in the actor’s skin and wardrobe. There are a few moments when the grain patterns can become just a bit unwieldy during a few of the darker moments, but these moments are the exception rather than the rule and never become distracting. Colors are simply brilliant with better than average black levels throughout the duration. The most surprising thing about the transfer is how clean it looks. One would expect a 25-year-old film to be marred by dirt, scratches, and perhaps even a few photochemical anomalies, but such flaws are surprisingly infrequent.


Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow offers a 5.1 Italian DTS-HD Master Audio mix for both versions of the film along with Linear PCM Audio transfers of each film’s original mix. (The theatrical version’s original mix was in Mono while the Director’s Cut was released in 2.0 Stereo). It is nice that the original mixes have been included here in addition to the 5.1 upgrade and all tracks are reasonably solid. The theatrical version’s original track is predictably flatter than one might prefer, but it sounds quite good. Dialogue is always clear and music has plenty of room to breathe. The surround mix of the film probably isn’t the huge leap forward that one might expect but does offer a more dynamic presentation of the film’s score—although the placement of the various elements sound a bit phony and manage to distract during certain moments. Purists will certainly want to opt for the original mono mix—even if the 5.1 versions do manage a marginally more dynamic experience. The director’s cut’s original 2.0 stereo offers noticeable separations and sounds quite good making this an easy choice for this particular version—although this is merely a matter of taste. All tracks are fairly front heavy but this never becomes a bother.


Special Features:

4 of 5 Stars

Disc 1

Audio Commentary by Millicent Marcus and Giuseppe Tornatore (Theatrical)

Disappointingly, this commentary track is 95% Millicent Marcus—who somehow manages to hold one’s interest as she gives a somewhat elementary analysis. That she manages to hold one’s interest is surprising, because she usually relies on giving the viewer a description of what is on the screen. The track becomes more interesting during the few audio excerpts of Giuseppe Tornatore discussing certain aspects of the film. There are occasions when Marcus gives a bit of general background information, and her observations about the director’s cut are both on target and engaging. Viewers are also likely to appreciate when she offers the titles of the various films being projected within the movie. These moments make the commentary worth visiting, but one would do well to curb one’s expectations.

Giuseppe Tornatore’s A Dream of Sicily – (54:47)

This is a surprisingly comprehensive profile of Giuseppe Tornatore featuring footage early home movies shot by the director, on set footage of Tornatore at work, clips from a few of his films, and much more. The majority of the piece revolves around interviews with the director himself, although Francesco Rosi and Peppino Ducato also make appearances. The documentary is well worth the time it takes to watch it, and may well be the disc’s best supplement—though one suspects that some will prefer the disc’s other documentary more since it focuses solely on Cinema Paradiso.

A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise – (27:28)

A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise is a comprehensive retrospective look at the making of Cinema Paradiso—and it is as entertaining as it is informative. Giuseppe Tornatore, Salvatore Cascio, and Philippe Noiret are all on hand to discuss their experiences during the shooting of the film, the two cuts, and the film’s enthusiastic reception. Some people complain about such “talking heads” documentaries, but I will take a good “talking heads” documentary over a “describe the action” commentary any day.

The Kissing Sequence – (07:03)

This short featurette finds Giuseppe Tornatore as he discusses the final “censored kisses” montage. It is certainly informative and engaging, but one wonders why this footage couldn’t have been included in the body of A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise. It would’ve been a nice addition to the documentary—but one suspects this allows them to advertise another supplement. It is nice to have it included in any case.

25th Anniversary Trailer – (01:42)

The 25th Anniversary trailer is nice enough, but one wonders why the original theatrical release trailers couldn’t have been included either in addition or instead of this one.

Disc 2

Director’s Cut Theatrical Trailer – (01:22)

The Director’s Cut trailer promises “over fifty-one minutes of never before seen footage” and that audiences will “discover what really happened to the love of a lifetime.” Its inclusion here is appreciated.


Final Words:

Cinema Paradiso is a classic of world cinema and this wonderful 25th Anniversary Restoration release from Arrow Academy is the best it has ever looked on home video.


Review by: Devon Powell