Music Break: Cinema Paradiso (1988)

I’m not feeling too well today so naturally I turn to lush, gorgeous music to make me feel better and this one just immediately came to mind. In fact, as I said in my Cinema Paradiso review, I had fallen in love with Ennio Morricone‘s soundtrack long before I finally saw the film. Of course the film itself is just as beautiful as the music and I have since bought the Blu-ray and hope to re-watch it soon.

I didn’t know until much later that the Roman-born, 83-year-old composer is more well-known for his work in Spaghetti Westerns directed by his friend Sergio Leone, including A Fistful of DollarsThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and Once Upon a Time in the West. He ended up composing music for over 40 Westerns. Not a fan of that genre, my favorite soundtrack of his are the non-Western soundtracks such as The Mission, The Untouchables, and of course Cinema Paradiso, which I regard as one of my all time favorite movie music.

I read a while ago that the composer was involved very early in the process with the film’s director Giuseppe Tornatore, even as early as the screenplay process, which perhaps explain the integral part the music plays in the film. Now, this love theme was composed by Ennio’s son Andrea, and they shared their BAFTA win for Best Original Score.


I’m often drawn to music that truly stirs the soul, one that gets me feeling all emotional, the more tear-inducing the better. This melody is so hauntingly beautiful, poignant, romantic, heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time. It’s impossible not to be moved by the story of bittersweet relationship between a young Italian boy and a local cinema projectionist… and the music is the perfect complement to such a marvelous film. It’s one of those evocative music that soothes the soul and warms the heart. It also takes me back to the wonderful scenes of the protagonist Toto and Alfredo in that charming Sicilian village.

Normally I prefer the instrumental version of a soundtrack but a few years ago, I discovered this lovely song by Monica Mancini (Henry Mancini’s daughter) titled Remember… I absolutely love it, the melody, the lyrics, her voice. I like it so much that I bought her CD. Take a listen below…

Cinema Paradiso‘s soundtrack the kind of music as timeless as the everlasting magic of the cinema… a masterpiece work by a maestro that can be enjoyed by any generation for years to come.


Have you seen Cinema Paradiso? What’s your favorite Ennio Morricone’s work?

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38 thoughts on “Music Break: Cinema Paradiso (1988)

  1. I absolutely LOVE this film; an all time favorite if I am honest.

    I quickly took a look at the IMDB entry for the composer and he has done over 500! Goodness gracious. I could not possibly pare it down – but I will try:

    The Untouchables
    Days of Heaven

    🙂 One surprise in the list is “Bulworth”

  2. I said this on another persons blog, but i generally don’t really take note of a movies soundtrack. A small amount of the songs on my phone are from movies, but i don’t often listen to music outside the movie.

    And i think i may give Cinema Paradiso a rewatch one of these days, as my tastes inn movies weren’t as refined when i saw it.

    1. Oh I remember you tweeting about this Andina. I hope that when I get back home one day I’ll remember to bring the dvd for you.

  3. A beautiful film. When I was at Uni in the film society, we showed Cinema Paradiso for our projectionist’s birthday. He’d been showing movies for 30 years by that time. Screenings were always perfect because he would arrive an hour early and cut out any damaged frames.

    Have you seen “Once Upon A Time in The West”? The soundtrack is unlike Morricone’s other westerns. “Jill’s Theme” (for Claudia Cardinale) is very much more in the Paradiso vein.

    1. Hi Marcus! Oh what a lovely present for your college projectionist, I bet that’s quite an emotional moment.

      No I haven’t seen that film as I’m not into Westerns, but I’ll listen to the soundtrack on Youtube. Thanks!

      1. It was an emotional showing, and added to the movie knowing it related to a real person/profession.

        But there’s more. At the end of the year, the projectionist gave me a collection of 35mm movie frames. The ones which were scratched or damaged at the end of the reels. No kissing scenes like in Paradiso, but cool all the same.

        If you want I could scan a few which you could post. I don’t think many people know what an analog movie frame looks like, There’s even an iconic one from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

          1. Here’s a sample. It’s the best I could do without a special slide scanner. So the images are not in focus. Might be able to improve though.

            What do you want to do with them? A guest post on what they are or something? I added a few notes to these two samples.

            1. Hi Marcus, yes I think a guest post sounds awesome! It’d be better to give the readers some context. Would you be willing to do that?

              1. Sure, I could do that. Only what “angle” should I take?
                Maybe “Have you ever wondered how the pictures get on the screen?”

                I guess it shouldn’t be too technical. Just a rough description of what the actual film itself looks like. Its journey to the screen or something. Do you have any other ideas? We should probably discuss those by email? My address is on the Contact page of my movie site.

                I know I’ve got some frames from Blade Runner and When Harry Met Sally…and at least one which would have been cut by Alfredo and given to Toto 🙂 William Holden and Faye Dunaway in horizontal afterglow in a scene from Network…

  4. Cinema Pardiso is a magic film! I thought it might be a bit soppy and slow, but I absolutely loved it! Love the score for The Mission. That was a film that shook me up when I was shown it at school. Hope you feel better soon!

    1. Hi Pete, indeed it’s magical. I love it when Alfredo projected the film onto a wall for everyone to see and he & Toto watched from the window. It’s such a sweet film that celebrates the power of cinema.

  5. I had no idea that the same man was behind all of these great soundtracks. Maybe I should research him a bit more.

    Ps. I think Sergio Leone’s Westerns are all very entertaining films that should be given a watch, especially The Good, The Bad and The Ugly which to me is a classic in capital letters.

    1. Hi Niels, well I’d take your word for it as I’m not a big fan of Westerns. But yeah, Mr. Morricone’s work certainly is astounding.

    1. Thanks Castor, I feel much better today which is great as I really can’t miss work this week as a lot of my colleagues are on vacation. I’m so digging this Spring-y weather we’ve got now, hopefully buh-bye Winter for good!

  6. Hi Ruth, I hope you are feeling better! This post has made me even more excited to see this movie, which I will almost certainly be checking out in the very near future. I had no idea Ennio Morricone composed the soundtrack.

    1. Yes thank you Eric, there’s just a bug going around in my office. I hope you get to see this film soon, Eric and I hope you’ll blog about it!

  7. This is one of those big fat holes in my viewing experience that I really need to fill. I don’t even know why I haven’t seen it yet. I’d bet a lot of money that I’d like it.

  8. Damn you for posting this. I love this movie and the soundtrack. This just makes me want to revisit it again. I had a stomach flu two weeks ago it was killer. Hope your feeling better.

  9. I liked Cinema Paradiso, but I didn’t find it to be the “masterpiece” that many make it out to be. It was a good movie, though. I think my problem was that I watched it after Hugo. I only recently watched this for the first time a couple weeks ago. In came in the middle of a movie marathon with the girlfriend. We watched Hugo and when scanning for another movie, I saw Cinema Paradiso.

    Since Hugo was Scorsese’s love letter to cinema, I figured Cinema Paradiso would be a good thematic follow-up. In the end, I think this took something away from Paradiso because it kinda paled in comparison to Hugo.

    But, like I said, it was still a good movie, just not as good as I hoped or had heard.

    That being said, I did find the soundtrack to be nice, too. There was some very beautiful music accompanying the movie and I always appreciate good music in films that really aids in setting a nice tone.

    1. Hi Josh! Y’know I actually like Cinema Paradiso a bit more than Hugo as it’s not as flashy. The fact that it’s a foreign film set in Italy, it feels more personal. I identify with Toto and his relationship with Alfredo more than I do with Hugo, and there’s the bittersweet romance in it that adds so much to the story for me. I do think it’s also a form of a ‘love letter’ to the cinema in many ways, how it affects Toto’s life in such a personal, profound way. Anyway, we can have our differences right? I do like Hugo too, but not as much as a lot of people 🙂

      In any case, the soundtrack is what I mean as the masterpiece, not the film.

  10. Pingback: Music Break: Ennio Morricone’s The Mission – Gabriel’s Oboe |

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