The criticism of Cinema Paradiso has produced both praise and censure for its depth, originality and production. While criticsâ€™ views varied, a common thread remained central. There was a sheer adoration for the film as a nostalgic tribute to the medium it represents. This paper will explore the critical analysis of Giuseppe Tornatoreâ€™s work and how it is linked to the information gathered from Italian Cinema 103 Summer Term in Italy held by Drew University. This linkage is proved and supported by concentrating on the following areas: the failure of the original release, the autobiographical undertones, and the use of the flashback and visual imagery to create a nostalgic atmosphere. Furthermore, the role of the movie theater as a mode of escape and church substitute will be explored. Finally, the cinematic shortcomings and the necessary suspension of disbelief will be discussed. All of these elements will clarify the meaning of film. Most importantly, they will secure its place in film history by evaluating the cultural significance of the medium itself.
Cinema Paradiso was originally released in Italy in 1988, with poor reviews. The negative reviews, along with a weak publicity campaign, afforded the film only a few days in the four or five cities where it was released. Even after a second release in March of 1989, it only made approximately $150,000.00 (Haberman, 15). The film was rescued by French film critics who seemed to love it as much as the Italian critics had found it to be obscene and repulsive. It won an award at the Cannes Film Festival and returned to movie theaters to gain critical acclaim. It also won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Released yet again to Italian theaters, it made $2.5 million at the box office. Critics have stated that the initial rejection was due to Italian despair and pessimism; a fear of being moved by nostalgia (15).