I watched this film over two nights, last Sunday and Monday. It was a film to savor. In fact, I could not bear to finish watching it, and decided to view it again the same night, Monday, with the additional commentary that came with the DVD. Then I realized that I was watching a drastically edited version made for the box office. That the director's cut, lasting nearly 3 hours, had a much darker vision of the relationship between life and art. Great art comes at the expense of life and love, as Salvatore Di Vita discovers. His film mentor, the humble projectionist of his village cinema in Sicily, gave him art but denied him love.
Philippe Noiret plays the Devil/God in the form of Alfredo the projectionist. Salvatore Cascio is the precocious child Salvatore, nicknamed Toto. Marco Leonardi plays the teenager in love with both film and Elena (Agnese Nano). Jacques Perrin is the adult film-maker who returns to the village after an absence of nearly 30 years to attend the funeral of Alfredo. The memorable music, a grand symphony really, is by Ennio Morricone. It is incredible to think that Italian critics panned the movie for its sentimentality. I sank into it as I sank into Matisse's sofa. It is a film that makes me glad that I am alive to watch it.