Cinema Paradiso

Long ago, when I was in junior high school, one day, I happened to read a study material about story-telling. The article discussed the power of an emotional build-up and how after a layered preparation of events, even the simplest of trigger could create an avalanche of emotions in the audience. One of the three examples mentioned was the famous Italian movie Cinema Paradiso.

One thing the author mentioned about this film intrigued me so much that its title stayed in my memory while I forgot the other two examples. He said that in the climax of Cinema Paradiso, the main character simply watched scenes of romantic kisses and embraces from old movies pieced together in a random order. There was nothing emotional about it, and yet the main character broke into tears. Not just him, even the audience would cry upon this scene, the author said.

This got my attention. As I read on, he continued that the reason why the audience couldn’t help but cry at such seemingly silly scene was because it was a reminder of the friendship the main character had with an aging projectionist in his childhood. The projectionist once promised the boy he would one day give him all the romantic scenes omitted from the movies as a gift. In the climax of the film, the audience learns that after all the years, the projectionist remembered and kept his promise before his death.

When I was in high school, one day, I planned to go out for a movie with my two best friends. There was one small old-fashioned movie theatre near our school, and the title of the film they were screening that week sounded familiar: Cinema Paradiso.

Immediately, the article I’d read a few years ago came back to my mind.

“We have to watch this one!” I told my friends, my voice enthusiastic. “It’s a touching story, I heard, we are bound to cry at the end!”

I hadn’t known exactly how much we would cry, though. Two and a half hours later, the three of us came out of the theatre drenched in tears. The author of the article was right about the climax. The sequence of romantic scenes at the end was what moved us to tears. But the intensity of the emotion was far stronger than what I could have imagined. Cinema Paradiso is a movie that will always occupy a special place in my heart.