Cinema Paradiso reminds us of how important the people around us are as well as the sacrifices they make because they care about us. When we are young, we take our friends, family, and our community for granted. Giuseppe Tornatore demonstrated the true value of the father-son relationship in this movie. Although Toto’s father dies in the war, the real father-figure in his life ultimately ends up being Alfredo. He takes the mischievous, troublemaking Toto and raises him to become a successful man. Whenever Toto gets in trouble, Alfredo is there to support him.
Through him, Toto learns that he has the potential to become something great. The greatest message Tornatore gets across in this film is the power of companionship. Be it Toto’s relationship with his girlfriend, Alfredo, or the people in his community, it holds a certain importance greater than any future that can be planned. Early on, it’s mentioned that Toto’s father was away in the war. It’s never really stated whether or not he was drafted or if it was his career choice, however, in both instances, there’s no doubting that his going to the war was for his family.
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Dodging the draft would have displaced his family from home or even portray him in a cowardly light. Choosing to fight in the war would have supported his family with financial security. So, it can be inferred that Toto’s father gave his life for the well-being of his loved ones. Also, when Toto is being punished for stealing his mother’s milk money, Alfredo is there to save the day. Even as early as this, Tornatore makes it clear that Alfredo cares about Toto. Another important part of the film that demonstrates sacrifice for love is Toto’s relationship with Elena.
Despite the fact that she doesn’t take his heart at first opportunity, he is persistent. He promises her that he will wait every night for her to fall in love with him, and he does. Toto ultimately gets what he wants thus empowering the idea that one must surrender his own for the good of love. This entire movie is about the relationship between Alfredo and Toto. Alfredo takes in Toto as if he were his own. He raises Toto from a boy; teaching him the ways of a projectionist. Toto eventually grows up to become a successful director.
Alfredo is solely responsible for this. He urges Toto from a young age that he must leave town and do something great with his life and to never look back. It is, as such, one of the many powerful aspects of growing up. The relationship between a person and their father almost always dictates their path in life. Without Alfredo, Toto would have probably become a trouble-making “townie” to never become anything of importance. Something that should also be considered is how Tornatore sets Alfredo in a position to give Toto advice.
Toto looks up to him, and with that goes to him with his problems. Alfredo solves everything for Toto just as a father would in times of need. Their relationship symbolizes how important the father-son connection really is. One would take from this film that companionship is of utmost importance. It’s not only exhilarating, but empowering. With time, we forget that there are people around us. We miss out on all the opportunities to create friendship. Tornatore makes it clear, especially at the end, that life has no meaning without love.
Toto expresses to Elena that, although he was very successful, his life just wasn’t the same without her love. Even with Alfredo’s attempts to push Toto into a new life, he was naive. Many adults would say the same thing as Alfredo; that young love and friendships aren’t what’s important and that we should give them up altogether to make a better future for ourselves. Toto did leave his town behind but, in the end, truly did miss out on the many friendships that stemmed in his childhood. Life just isn’t the same without those special people in our lives.
On a final note, Giuseppe Tornatore created this film to greatly influence the thought of community. Our perception of self-reliance greatly hinders our experience in life and opening the door to a friendship is the beginning of unlimited possibilities. Also, at the same time, we must treasure our family for they are the base of our accomplishments. With that we must also sacrifice for the ones we love as it becomes meaningless if we don’t. The centralized element that ties all these ideas together is the relationship etween Alfredo and Toto. In meeting Alfredo, Toto finds himself and gathers the resources necessary to live his life to the fullest. Also, Alfredo has the chance to live the life he always wanted through Toto and as such was able to push him out the door, despite the sacrifices he had to make. He loved Toto enough to never see him again. That’s true companionship; to put the good of the other’s before falling back on selfish desires. With that said, the ultimate theme this movie produced can be summed up in one word: Love.