Enio Morricone conducting La Orquestra Sinfonietta di Roma des de l'Arena di Verona..."Gabriels Oboe" from the 1986 Roland Jaffe movie "The Mission," and the central theme from the 1988 Giuseppe Tornatore movie "Cinema Paradiso."
The Mission is a 1986 British drama film about the experiences of a Jesuit missionary in 18th century South America. The film was written by Robert Bolt and directed by Roland Joffé. It stars Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons, Ray McAnally, Aidan Quinn, Cherie Lunghi and Liam Neeson. It won the Palme d'Or and the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. In April 2007, it was elected number one on the Church Times Top 50 Religious Films list. The music, scored by Italian composer Ennio Morricone, was listed at #23 on AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores.
The film is set in the 1750s and involves the Jesuit Reductions, a programme by which the Catholic Church sought to Christianise and civilize the indigenous native populations of South America. Spanish Jesuit priest Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) enters the South American jungle to build a mission and convert a Guaraní community to Christianity
The Guaraní community above the perilous Iguazu Falls ties a priest to a cross and sends him down the falls to his death. Afterward, the gentle Father Gabriel scales the falls and reaches out to the Guaraní. Entering the jungle, Father Gabriel sits and plays his oboe. The Guaraní warriors prepare to kill him, but they are captivated by the music and allow him to live.
A mercenary and slaver, Rodrigo Mendoza (Robert De Niro), makes his living kidnapping natives and selling them to nearby plantations. He cares both for his younger brother Felipe (Aidan Quinn) and his fiancee Carlotta (Cherie Lunghi). Carlotta reveals she has fallen in love with Felipe. Mendoza subsequently finds them in bed together. In his anger he kills Felipe in a duel. Acquitted of the killing, Mendoza spirals into depression. Father Gabriel, who has temporarily returned from his mission and learned of Mendoza's situation, visits and challenges Mendoza to undertake a suitable penance.
Mendoza accompanies the Jesuits on their return journey, doggedly pulling a bundle filled with weapons as the party scales the Iguazu Falls. After Mendoza collapses, one of the Jesuit priests, Fielding (Liam Neeson) cuts away the bundle. Mendoza recovers and re-ties the bundle, resuming the grueling journey. Fielding discusses with Father Gabriel that he and the others believe Mendoza has suffered enough, but Father Gabriel replies that only God and Mendoza may decide that. When they reach the Guaraní camp, a member of the tribe cuts the ropes of Mendoza's burden. Symbolically absolved of his brother's murder and his past transgressions against the Guaraní, Mendoza weeps and then begins to laugh.
Father Gabriel's mission is depicted as a place of sanctuary and education for the Guaraní. Moved by the Guaraní's acceptance, Mendoza wishes to help at the mission and Father Gabriel gives him a Bible. In a voice-over, Mendoza reads 1 Corinthians 13 as he interacts with the Guaraní, particularly the children. Mendoza takes vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and becomes a Jesuit under Father Gabriel.
The Jesuit missions were hitherto safe, as they were protected under Spanish law, which applied because the missions were located in Spanish territory. However, in Spain and Portugal, the Treaty of Madrid is signed, which reapportions the land in South America. The land on which the Jesuit missions were located was now transferred to the Portuguese, and Portuguese law allowed slavery. The Portuguese colonials seek to enslave the natives, and as the independent Jesuit missions might impede this, Papal emissary Cardinal Altamirano, a former Jesuit priest himself, is sent from the Vatican to survey the missions and decide which, if any, should be allowed to remain.
Under pressure from both local plantation owners and the Spanish and Portuguese rulers, Cardinal Altamirano is forced to choose the lesser of two evils. If he rules in favour of the colonists, the indigenous peoples will become enslaved; if he rules in favour of the missions, the entire Jesuit Order may be condemned by the Portuguese and the European Catholic Church could fracture. Altamirano visits the missions and is amazed at their industry and success. In his report to the Pope, he states, "Your Holiness, a surgeon to save the body must often hack off a limb. But in truth nothing could prepare me for the beauty and the power of the limb that I had come here to sever." At Father Gabriel's mission of San Carlos he tries to explain the reasons behind closing the mission and instructs the Guaraní that they must leave. The Guaraní question his authority, and Father Gabriel and Mendoza state their intention to defend the Mission should the plantation owners and colonialists attack. They are, however, divided on how to do this, and they debate how to respond to the impending military attack. Father Gabriel believes that violence is a direct crime against God. Mendoza, however, decides to break his vows in order to militarily defend the Mission. Against Father Gabriel's wishes, he teaches the natives the art of war and once more takes up his sword.
When the colonialists attack, the mission is initially defended by Mendoza, Fielding and the Guaraní. They are no match for the military force and Mendoza is shot and fatally wounded. As the Spanish and Portuguese soldiers enter the mission village, they are slowed by the singing of Father Gabriel and the Guaraní women and children, who march toward the troops unarmed, singing and holding a cross and monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament. The soldiers are reluctant to fire at a church service. In spite of this, the soldiers' commander orders the attack and Father Gabriel, the rest of the priests and most of the Guaraní, including women and children, are gunned down. Only a handful escape into the jungle.
In a final exchange between Cardinal Altamirano and a Portuguese official, the official laments that what happened was unfortunate but inevitable because "we must work in the world; the world is thus." Altamirano replies, "No, Senhor Hontar, thus have we made the world. Thus have I made it." Days later, a canoe of young children return to the scene of the Mission massacre and salvage a few belongings, including a broken violin, that one of the children plays. They set off up the river, going deeper into the jungle. A final title declares that Jesuits and others continue to fight for the rights of indigenous people. The text of John 1:5 is displayed: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Nuovo cinema Paradiso (Italian pronunciation: [ˈnwɔːvo ˈtʃiːnema paraˈdiːzo] New Paradise Cinema), internationally released as Cinema Paradiso, is a 1988 Italian romantic drama film written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. The film stars Jacques Perrin, Philippe Noiret, Leopoldo Trieste, Marco Leonardi, Agnese Nano and Salvatore Cascio; produced by Franco Cristaldi and Giovanna Romagnoli, and the music by Ennio Morricone along with his son, Andrea.
It was originally released in Italy at 155 minutes, but poor box office performance in its native country led to it being shortened to 123 minutes for international release; it was an instant success. This international version won the Special Jury Prize at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and the 1989 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. In 2002, the director's cut 173-minute version was released (known in the U.S. as Cinema Paradiso: The New Version).
Shot in director Tornatore's hometown Bagheria, Sicily, as well as Cefalù on the Tyrrhenian Sea, and told largely in flashback of a successful film director Salvatore to his childhood years, it also tells the story of the return to his native Sicilian village for the funeral of his old friend Alfredo, who was the projectionist at the local "Cinema Paradiso". Ultimately, Alfredo serves as a wise father figure to his young friend who only wishes the best to see him succeed, even if it means breaking his heart in the process.
Seen as an example of "nostalgic postmodernism", the film intertwines sentimentality with comedy, and nostalgia with pragmaticism. It explores issues of youth, coming of age, and reflections (in adulthood) about the past. The imagery in each scene can be said to reflect Salvatore's idealised memories about his childhood. Cinema Paradiso is also a celebration of films; as a projectionist, young Salvatore (a.k.a Totò) develops the passion for films that shapes his life path in adulthood.
During the 1980s in Rome, Italy, famous Italian film director Salvatore Di Vita (Jacques Perrin) returns home late one evening, where his girlfriend sleepily tells him that his mother called to tell him that someone named Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) has died. It is made clear that Salvatore tends to shy away from committed relationships and that he has not been back to his home village of Giancaldo, Sicily in 30 years. As she asks him who Alfredo is, Salvatore flashes back to his childhood.
The bulk of the film takes place in this flashback, which takes place shortly after World War II in the late 1940s. We meet Salvatore, the mischievous, highly intelligent son of a war widow. Six-year-old Salvatore, nicknamed Toto, discovers his love for films early and spends every free moment at the local moviehouse — Cinema Paradiso, where he develops a friendship with the fatherly projectionist, Alfredo, who takes a shine to the young boy and often lets him watch movies in the projection booth. In the several scenes of the movies being shown, there is frequent booing from the audience, during the "censored" sections. The films suddenly jump, missing a critical kiss or embrace. The local priest has ordered that these sections be cut out. They lie on Alfredo's floor. At first, Alfredo had seen Toto as a pest, but eventually he teaches Salvatore how to operate the film projector. The montage ends as the moviehouse catches fire — film in those days was made of highly flammable nitrocellulose. Salvatore saves Alfredo's life, but not before the film reels explode in Alfredo's face, leaving him permanently blind. The Cinema Paradiso is rebuilt by a citizen of the town, Ciccio, who invests his football lottery winnings in it. Salvatore, though still a child, is hired to be the new projectionist, as he is the only one in town who can run the machines.
The film abruptly jumps forward a decade or so. Salvatore, now in high school, is still the projectionist at the Cinema Paradiso. His relationship with the blind Alfredo has only strengthened, and Salvatore often looks to him for advice — advice that Alfredo often dispenses by quoting classic films. We also see that Salvatore has started experimenting with filmmaking using a home movie camera, and has met, and captured on film, a new girl, Elena, daughter of a wealthy banker. We watch Salvatore woo — and win — Elena's heart, only to lose her due to her father's disapproval. As Elena and her family move away, Salvatore leaves town to serve his compulsory military service. His attempts to write her and keep in touch are fruitless; his letters are always returned as undeliverable. Upon his return from the military, Alfredo urges Salvatore to move away permanently, counseling him that the town is too small to enable Salvatore to ever find his dreams. Moreover, the old man tells him that once he leaves, he must pursue his destiny wholeheartedly and never look back and never return — never returning to visit, never to give in to nostalgia, never to even write or think about them.
Back in the present, we understand that Salvatore has obeyed Alfredo but is now returning home for the first time since he left to attend the funeral. Though his hometown has changed greatly, he now understands why Alfredo thought it was so important that he leave. Alfredo's widow tells him that the old man followed Salvatore's successes with pride and has left him something — an unlabeled reel of film and the old stool that Salvatore once stood on to be able to operate the projector. Salvatore comes to know during his short stay, that Cinema Paradiso is being demolished to give way to city parking lots. As he looks at the proceedings, he recognizes many of the people who he had seen in the younger days as a projectionist at the Cinema.
Salvatore returns to Rome. At this point in the 123-minute release, he watches Alfredo's reel and discovers that it is a very special montage. It is of all the kiss scenes that the priest ordered to be cut out of the reels. Alfredo has spliced all the sequences together to form a single film. It finally seems that Salvatore has made peace with his past.