About this work
Written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, this wonderful film recounts three periods in the life of a famous film director who returns to the village of his birth in Sicily after 30 years. The first segment recalls his, Toto's, childhood where he becomes fascinated by the cinema and begs Alfredo the projectionist to teach him about the machines. When a fire breaks out at the theater, Alfredo is burned and blinded and Toto is permitted to take over his job after the theater is re-built. Alfredo still shows up and the two become close buddies. There are many humorous sketches of the various attendees at the Cinema Paradiso theater and touching scenes of the audience's free-wheeling reaction to different imagery and to each other. As a young man, Toto falls in love with Elena, whom he surreptitiously films, but loses her when he has to leave for several years to serve in the army in Rome. Upon returning he decides not to take up his old job, and is encouraged by Alfredo to pursue his career making films.
The title theme "Cinema Paradiso" opens with a simple nostalgic melody played on a solo piano. This is soon joined by a few strings which expand into a richly timbred section.
"Maturity" has a similar texture and harmonic progression to the main theme, and is orchestrated for solo guitar backed by a full string section. The cue ends with a long series of chromatically modulated arpeggios left hanging in the air.
"While Thinking About Her Again" is comprised of isolated chords and short passages like sighs or short breaths for the strings. The piano entrance ties these events together.
"Childhood and Manhood" and "First Youth" are the same Satie-like waltz.
"Cinema On Fire" begins with densely chromatic and anxious string writing and then moves to a Bernard Herrmann Psycho-like driving figure with trumpet accents.
"Love Theme" (composed by Andrea Morricone) is a beautifully, floating texture mostly for flute and strings evoking brief moments of passion through classic non-harmonic suspensions.
"After the Destruction" is a triste variation on the main theme.
"Love Theme for Nata" for string quintet, alto sax, and flute (in deep reverberation) creates an intimate timbre. Eventually the full orchestra joins in with barely restrained passion, the piano providing concerto-like pulses.
"Visit to the Cinema" is the main theme played somewhat slower.
"Four Interludes" are very brief, lyrical scene-change phrases.
"Runaway, Search and Return" has a dramatically pulsing figure that eventually blends with the main theme toward a tender resolution.
"Projection for Two" nostalgically underscores Toto viewing shots of Elena he took many years ago.
"From American Sex Appeal to the First Fellini" scores the main theme like a lush Hollywood '50s musical, a 1920s slapstick number, a chromatic Fellini score.
"Toto and Alfredo" recalls the happy friendship between men of their different generations.
"For Elena" is a plaintive, rising to passionate, ballad.
Curated by Carolina Meneses João, Primephonic Catalogue Manager