February 26, 1990 [Cinema Paradiso, Amarcord]

Is it fair to compare Cinema Paradiso with Amarcord? Maybe it's because I've watched Fellini's movie so often that it's begun to feel as though I'm remembering my own, not his, childhood. Or that the fog in Amarcord loses its menace and rolls on me like a blanket in a long-gone bed, the ceiling low and window small, the room cold but not clammy, the early morning light asking me to sleep just a little longer. For all its extravagances, even almost-cynicism, Amarcord plays its little Nino Rota music with calm insistence, urging me to let the big ships pass on and to return to the wedding-party, rain or no rain.

Cinema Paradiso does not have that particular magic, but there are moments that surprised me into chest-thumping yearning. I wanted to be with them in the projection booth as they reflected the movie out of the theater and onto the housefront so that everyone could enjoy--no, be in--the movie, even the angry tenant at the balcony. And I wanted Alfredo to be my father--if only so that I could save him, as did little Toto, and earn that pride and sorrow. And I wanted to do what both movies asked--remember and regret--until I realized I do remember, and I do regret--but try not to stand still and cry like a child, because no hand appears and holds mine to remind me of my address; like the grandpop in Amarcord I have to find my own way home.


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