Ladies and gentlemen, did you know that Cinema Paradiso has two different endings? Which one did you watch?
As I said, there are two versions of the film: the “butchered” version and the director’s cut. The first version made Cinema Paradiso the award-winning film that it is. The director’s cut is a longer version of the film, it’s the film according to the director’s vision.
Now… What makes a film classic? Let me remind you, a well executed film doesn’t make it an instant classic. No. It needs to stand the test of time. If time or place do not affect the viewer’s experience of the film, then it’s a classic. Whether it’s now or a 100 years from now, people will still get it.
So is Cinema Paradiso a classic? In my opinion, yes. However, there are two endings. The one that made me fall in love was the original version from 1988. To be honest, I’m not sure if I would’ve liked the film as much, had I watched the new version first.
Cinema Paradiso – Original Ending
The main reason why Salvatore never returned to his home town was because of Alfredo. He told him to pursue his “destiny” of becoming a film-maker without ever looking back. In other words, he shall never return (even to visit) or write and think about the loved ones he left behind. And so he did. However, he had to break his promise when Alfredo died. At the funeral, he sees many familiar faces. Before his return to Rome, he gets a final gift from Alfredo — a reel with all the romantic scenes that the priest had “banned”. With great nostalgia he watches the whole bit and makes peace with his past.
Cinema Paradiso – New Ending
In this alternative ending, there are some new added scenes. Salvatore gets to meet Elena once again. They end up “consummating” their old love affair. Many revelations came up from this encounter. First, not only Alfredo told Salvatore to never ever come back, but he was also the responsible for the two lovebirds breakup. Essentially, Alfredo made a choice for Salvatore. He was the one that convinced Elena to breakup with him. Why? Because she would interfere with Salvatore’s dream of becoming a film-maker.
Thoughts On The Alternative Ending Of Cinema Paradiso
What do I think about the new ending? Honestly, I don’t like it. By the way, I not saying it because it’s a new ending. When you hear director’s cut, you’re usually expecting something better. Right? That was not the case. You know why? First of all, what was that final encounter between Salvatore and Elena? Was it really necessary to include it? Honestly, there was no need to see two middle-aged people in a car having an extramarital affair.
Second, this ending makes Alfredo look bad and it’s so unfair. As I see it, Alfredo was not being nosy when he persuaded Elena to breakup with Salvatore. He knew that boy was never going to leave that small town, as long as Elena was still there. Basically, Alfredo made a very difficult decision for Salvatore. Was it his call? No. However, he really wanted Salvatore to succeed in life.
Third, Elena was much better as a long-lasting memory. Once again, that final encounter in the car made their love look a little “tainted”. What were they thinking? In this case, it’s ironic how the director’s cut version is worse than the “butchered” version. In the words of Coco Chanel — less is more. The shorter version made the film a classic and more meaningful.
Having said that, I’m glad that I got to watch the original ending first. In my opinion, the “butchered version” focuses on the things that really matter: Alfredo and Salvatore’s friendship. If it wasn’t for Alfredo, there wouldn’t be Salvatore “the film-maker”. The old man nurtured Toto’s love for films and encouraged him to chase bigger dreams. That’s it. Period.