Saturday, November 03, 2007

Cinema Paradiso

Do you love movies? I really do. Last night we watched an old favorite, Cinema Paradiso.

It's an Italian film, made in 1989, but timeless really. It's about the movie theater in a small town in Sicily just after the war, and a little boy in love with the movies. I adore this movie and the characters of the town, like the town priest who screens the movies before they are offered to the public and demands that all kissing scenes be cut out of the film first. Toto, the little boy, of course, pockets as many of those snipped bits of film as he is able to get past Alfredo, the projectionist who befriends Toto.

The sweetness of this movie always makes me cry as I did, once again last night. It made me think about the old Chief Theater in Pocatello, where I grew up. I saw so many movies there as a child, including National Velvet and The Red Shoes, which was my favorite movie for so long. (So romantic—so tragic!) As a teenager everyone went to the Chief on Friday night and heaven help any adults who made the mistake of trying to see a movie on a Friday night. It was date night for those with dates and hangin' out night for everyone else, and frequently social pandemonium. One Friday night as I was watching a movie at the Chief, a pair of Levis was thrown from the balcony and landed on my head.

It was a magnificent theater, built in the late '30s, with murals of Indian villages and Indians in full regalia painted on the walls and soaring ceiling; and big carved oak doors, rustic chandeliers and red velvet curtains. When it was upgraded in the '60s my Dad was able to buy a set of the carved doors that they were replacing with modern glass doors. The "Chief" doors are still in use at the cabin. In the early '90s, during yet another renovation, the roof caught fire and the theater burned to the ground. My heart broke just a little bit when I heard the news. All that remains is the mosaic that is still in the sidewalk where the theater entrance used to be.

Did you ever love a movie theater for the big world it brought to your humble life or for sharing popcorn in the dark or necking in the balcony or seeing Dr. Zhivago or Gone with the Wind or The Wizard of Oz or The Graduate on that magical big screen for the first time? If you can relate, then I highly recommend that you rent Cinema Paradiso. Bring tissues.


  1. oh Geez, I love that movie. I think it was actually the first DVD I ever bought, to replace the VHS I had bought my mom that was so worn it was barely watchable. One of the best movies I have ever seen, and I still cry every time I watch it.

  2. I asked for a dvd of The Red Shoes, Cinema Paradiso, and Picture Bride for Christmas last year- Wasn't Cinema Paradiso sort of an homage to the directors childhood? Whatever-it's a gift to the senses. Thanks for reminding me-I'll get it out later-got my tissues.

  3. Anonymous6:48 AM

    "Cinema Paradiso" is one of our favorites around here. I recommend it all the time. It doesn't make me cry as much as laugh out loud at the humor and smile at the sweetness.

  4. Cinema Paradiso has worked its way up to number 22 in my Netflix queue; I just checked. That means somebody recommended it to me ages along, but I no longer remember who. Given your endorsement, Terry, I think I'll bump it up a notch or two.

    I love that the theater doors are part of your family heritage now. I grew up in a much bigger town, Philadelphia, so I divided my affection among three or four neighborhood theaters. I remember going to see Tom Jones with my grandmother, who had no idea what a racy film it would be for my still-innocent 16-y.o. self.

  5. Hi Terri,
    I've found you by way of Thea Quilts blog and have enjoyed my visit so much. I did go by and check out 12x12 as well and the dialog of the process that goes along with each quilt made it all that much more interesting to see. I loved your bee and dandelion!

    I also had to comment about the Chief in Pocatello. I attended camp, during the summer following my sixth grade year, in Pocatello. The camp was at the base of Scout Mtn. which I will never forget because we climbed it one day. There were 35 Camp Fire Girls that caravaned to that camp all the way from Omaha, NE that year. I do remember going into town to see the movie Patton (Horrible movie for a 12 year old girl LOL) but I can't remember the theater at all. I'll forever wonder now if it was your wonderful Chief Theater. Anyway your post stirred some old memories of days long gone now. Thanks.

  6. I'll add it to my amazon rental list! I like to watch films on my laptop whilst I sew. It frequently takes a very long time t owatch them becuase I have to keep pausing while I sew fast as the machine gets noisier then!