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Cinema Paradiso

Updated November 1, 2018

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Cinema Paradiso essay

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Cinema Paradiso Cinema Paradiso In the film “Cinema Paradiso”, Toto, the main character, is a lost child without a father to provide a male role model. The story begins after Toto is informed of the death of his dearest friend, Alfredo. At this point, Toto is a mature man and a successful film director, having long ago left his home town, Giancaldo. Throughout the movie, however, Toto is a young boy with little parental support and direction. The young Toto develops a friendship with Alfredo, the film projectionist at Giancaldo’s only cinema, the Cinema Paradiso.

Alfredo takes Toto under his supervision and eventually agrees to take him as an apprentice. As Toto becomes familiar with the inside of the projection booth, he also learns about life. Alfredo becomes the father Toto has never had. “Cinema Paradiso” demonstrates, through Toto’s relationship with Alfredo, that all children need parents to guide and support them to adulthood. The absence of parental guidance in Totos life has been a reoccurring theme throughout the film.

While he goes to school all day, he spends his nights with Alfredo in the projection booth. Although Totos mother is still alive she is unable to provide him with the male role model that every small boy needs. It is as if her soul died with the disappearance of her husband, Totos father. Without someone to look up to, Toto, continually gets himself into trouble. This remains true in many families across the world, that without the ample support of both parents, many children find themselves lost. Toto’s father leaves Italy to fight in World War II when Toto is very young and has no recollection of his father.

Alfredo knows that an adult male role model is missing in Toto’s life. In one scene, in which Toto, who works also as an altar boy, walks with the village priest in the intolerably hot summer sun, Alfredo passes them on a bicycle. Because Toto is too lazy to walk back to the village, he feigns a leg injury and hitches a ride behind Alfredo. As both of them ride back to Giancaldo, Toto asks Alfredo about his father.

“He was tall, thin, jolly,” Alfredo tells him, “with a nice moustache, like mine.” I like how Alfredo compares his moustache to Totos fathers. Its as if Alfredo knows he can be of help and guidance to the young boys life. This could spark the concerns that Alfredo never had any children of his own to love. He goes on to say, “I always tell my children, be careful how you choose your friends.” “You haven’t got any children,” Toto retorts.

Alfredo replies, “When I do, I’ll tell them.” This scene illustrates Alfredo’s desire to become the male role model in Toto’s life. Instead of meaning his own children, Alfredo is referring to Toto. It also portrays Alfredo as a father by having Toto ride on the handle bars of the bicycle. Throughout the film, there are many scenes containing adult males that resemble Totos lost father. Cinema Paradiso is telling us, the viewers, that the missing link is the fact that Totos father is gone. A scene which caught my eye, is where Toto and his mother are returning from the building where the military was able to determine Totos “lost” father dead.

As they are walking back through the massive rubble created by war, Toto holds the had of his weeping mother. He looks over at a film poster advertising Gone with the Wind. This scene is important because the man in the poster resembles Totos father. When Toto sees this man holding a woman in the poster he now realizes what an important piece of his life is now gone forever. He smiles knowing how much his mother and father both loved each other. With his mother crying up a storm, Toto finds it hard to feel remorse for a man he didnt know.

Although he does realize what he meant to his mother, Totos father now lives through Alfredo. This scene is also important because it shows a transition of moving on for both Toto and his mother. There is an unfortunate accident at the Cinema Paradiso, a fire starts when the projector ignites the film. As Alfredo acts to douse the fire, the reel of the projector explodes and blinds him in the process. Although this event tragic, from it evolves a wiser and resourceful Alfredo.

The accident provided Alfredo with an enlightenment on life and a once hidden prospective. At the new opening of the Paradiso Alfredo shows up to celebrate Totos new job as the projectionist. Instead of talking about films or the stars that act in them, Alfredo asks Toto about school, which demonstrates his “father-like” role. He says to Toto, “I know now that Ive lost my sight..I see better.” As Alfredo says this, he touches the face of Toto, as if he were “looking” at his face.

When Alfredo takes his hand away, the face of an older Toto appears. Alfredo goes on to say, “Things I never saw before.” Its as is Alfredo watched Toto grow old into adulthood without even watching just as a father would. Toto begins to find interest in the opposite sex when he sees a new girl in his school. Toto and Alfredos talks take a turn towards women and love. Something that most fathers talk about with their sons. Alfredo tells Toto the story of a solider who falls in love with a princess.

While telling the story, Alfredo doesnt tell Toto what it is supposed to mean or how he can relate it to his own situation. Alfredo leaves him with, “And dont ask what it means. I dont know. If you figure it out, you tell me.” This is for Toto to think on his own, about himself, and about the entire issue of love itself. Without this positive male role model, Toto could have ended up in jail or other serious trouble, but with the guidance of Alfredo he was able to succeed into adulthood.

Toto, the main character in the film “Cinema Paradiso” is a lost child who requires the support and guidance of a father, the one thing missing in his life. Growing up in Giancaldo offered him a broad prospective on life and the world around it. With the direction given to him by Alfredo, Toto was able to come out of his young adulthood with knowledge and wits he would have never learned without him. In the end, Alfredo wants Toto to leave Giancaldo in search of a “better” life.

I think what Alfredo wants is what he never got, to explore life outside of his hometown.

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Cinema Paradiso. (2018, Dec 07). Retrieved from