I often get asked what is my favourite movie? That is too hard a question and it has to be broken down. There are so many types of movies for every mood. We seek out movies for comfort sometimes or excitement at other times. Just this week I saw a movie was being shown that I had watched and enjoyed when it came out at first.
Twelve Monkeys starring Bruce Willis , Madeline Stowe and Brad Pitt. Directed by Terry Gilliam a director I admire. I thought I was going to enjoy it until about 10 minutes in and remembered it was about the fallout from a nasty global pandemic and then I thought ,no let’s give this a miss.
We watch and remember movies by type. I have strong memories of watching old black and white movies as a child with my mother. Usually movies on TV. Usually on rainy Sunday afternoons. I learned all about James Cagney– ‘Top of the world Ma’; Edward G Robinson;Humphrey Bogart – ‘you can sing it for her you can sing it for me’;Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn.
Movies had a great impact. But later on a new revelation was stepping into world movies. People should not be afraid of sub titles as some of the world’s greatest movies are in other languages. This blog is about an important one and it is not a movie review as such, more of an homage to a movie I have thought a lot about during lockdown. It has been a time when we have thought a lot about mortality, the span of our lives and perhaps old friends and partners we have loved and lost along the way.
Cinema Paradiso is one such film. It spans a lifetime and is my favourite film about childhood , romance and unrequited love. It is a love story but it is also a story about a community space. In this case a cinema in the square of a small town in Italy. In this town the cinema is the community hub. All kinds of things happen there. Some joyful, some sad. All human life is there watching the newsreels and the movies under the watchful eye of the local priest who acts as local film censor.
The film is surely in the ‘classic’ category having been made in 1988 and won an Oscar so I will not be regarding this blog as a ‘spoiler’ although I was mildly rebuked this week by a colleague for posting this about Amar Latif as they wanted to watch Master Chef on catch up TV. Sorry. This is a very famous movie and if this blog inspires you to watch it then do not click on the last clip at the end of this article. That is all I am saying.
The film like many good movies has many threads. A young boy befriends the projectionist at the local cinema and he begins a fascination with film that he eventually sees through to adult life thanks to his friend, Alfredo the projectionist. Along the way we are shown the community interaction in the cinema. It reminded me of the days of the ABC minors club at the local Regal cinema. The film shows the people in the posh seats spitting on those below. I remember having melted ice cream poured down the back of my neck from above.The Italian version also shows more risqué activities in the back rows the were way beyond what I remember or could even imagine as a teenager.
The missing kisses.
The movie spans a lifetime however and beyond the scenes of childhood of the young Toto who is brought up by his single Mum after his Dad goes off to war never to return. As he grows into a young man there are scenes of teenage maturity and love and later heartbreak when his first love is taken by her family away to live in another town far away.
Years pass and the boy who is now a man and a successful film director hears of the death of mentor Alfredo. He returns for the funeral. In the process he not only reconnects with the source of his creativity but his lost love. For a brief moment they reconnect.
In real life people must be doing this all the time. During lockdown people may be reconnecting with old friends and lovers thinking they might never see them again. Like this movie plot reconnecting over a long elapsed time is hard. People change. They have children and new partners. Parents have died or are disabled and sick. You cannot go back in time as they did in the Twelve Monkeys movie.
The passage of time does not negate the love that the characters had for each other. I think this movie shows this very well. A love in the past can still be respected in the present. The respect can be strong even though both of the current identities need to be respected and maintained. Nothing is lost. The love is still unrequited in a physical and sexual sense and the desire to return to where they left off is just below the surface but just cannot happen.
What a great movie. I would recommend a box of tissues for the tears of both sadness and laughter. And if you are planning on watching do not click on the last clip below. You have been warned.
Feel I should give a warning for a helpline or something for people that have been affected by this subject matter. If you have not already seen it I hope you enjoy it.
Ennio Morricone article New York Times