"Cinema Paradiso" is Director Giseppe Tornatore's loving homage to the cinema. It tells the story of Salvatore, a successful film director, returning home from the funeral of Alfredo, his old friend who was the projectionist at the local cinema throughout his childhood. Soon memories of his first love affair with the beautiful Elena and all the highs and lows that shaped his life come flooding back, as Salvatore reconnects with the community he left 30 years ago. (Gary Reber)
Special features include a new 4K restoration of the original theatrical release on from the original camera negative, supervised by Giseppe Tornatore and the subsequent 2K restoration of the Director's Cut version (02:53:31), commentary with Director Giseppe Tornatore and Italian cinema expert critic Millicent Marcus, the documentary "A Dream Of Sicily," the documentary "A Bear And A Mouse In Paradise," the featurette "The Kissing Sequence," the original Director's Cut theatrical trailer, the 25th Anniversary re-release trailer and a 26-page booklet about the film.
The 1.66:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10/Dolby Vision picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed in spherical format on 35 mm film stock. The original theatrical version is sourced from a 4K restoration master Digital Intermediate format. There is also a three-hour Director's Cut presented on Blu-ray Disc that extends the original's ending. "Cinema Paradiso" projects onto 4K Ultra HD with pristine picture quality, providing the absolute reference for this Italian classic. Theatrically and in its previous home video releases the film featured a rather soft, often diffuse image, and that continues with this latest Ultra HD release, though, there is a far greater improvement in overall clarity and image smoothness. The opening sequence, which is hampered by the opticals of the credits, looks noticeably soft, but the imagery improves dramatically past the brief prologue featuring Salvatore's mother and then the adult Salvatore and his girlfriend. Once the film gets into the bulk of its flashback segments, colors are nicely saturated and the image is sharper than previous releases. Fine detail is best in close-ups, as is to be expected, but some of the establishing shots of the town and its inhabitants pop rather nicely, all things considered. Grain structure is also well intact, but some viewers may be bothered by some of the overly grainy sequences, especially in the more dimly lit scenes. This is the new reference with a presentation that exceeds all past presentations and the theatrical print. This is a true classic and one of the finest cinematic films ever. (Gary Reber)
The PCM 1.0-channel monaural soundtrack (in the original Italian, with optional English subtitles) is generally undistinguished but clear throughout. Dialogue is crisp and clear and Ennio Morricone's achingly evocative score is a wonderful composition. The film is rather small scale but there is a 5.1 repurposed version available that extends the monaural track to the surrounds to create some depth. There is really nothing to gain from the surround revision. Alternatively, listening to the soundtrack through the Auro-Matic Immersive Surround upmix is dramatically more dimensionally spatial and enjoyable. (Gary Reber)