When I was a young boy, I religiously watched movies in my town’s only movie theater every weekend (because the movie theater was open only during weekends). I would always watch at the balcony (although it costs more) because the movie projector was right behind the stadium-style seats. When no one was looking, I would sneak under the projection room (which was elevated) and gathered the loose strips of film in the dark. If the strips were long enough, I rolled them together to make toy swords. On lucky days, the loose strips would even contain explicit love scenes. I collected them.
Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso reminds me of those boyhood memories. In this film, a boy and the operator of the cinema projector of the village’s only movie theater became friends. During movie screenings, no one was allowed to see intimate scenes. Even brief kissing scenes ended up on the floor as they were deleted in accordance with the order of the village’s one-man movie censor – the village priest.
The boy grew up to be a famous film director. (If you haven’t seen the movie, please stop reading beyond this point.) After the theater projectionist’s death, a mysterious package was handed to the boy-turned-film director. When he opened it, the package contained loose strips of films from different movies which were pasted together. And he watched them.
By the way, the theater projectionist’s name was Alfredo.
And the boy’s name was Toto.