Fans of Cinema Paradiso know what to expect from Giuseppe Tornatore: lovingly evoked scenes of an Italian childhood, domestic intimacy, classroom horseplay, public eccentricity and the early movie-house.
This family saga, set in his native province near Palermo, offers the same, only at greater length. From the 1930s (cows in the street, Fascism), the war years (bombers in shadow, wailing women in shelters) and the 1950s (Communism, the Mafia) up to the 1980s (shopping arcades, traffic everywhere), it follows the lives of Cicco the shepherd, Peppino his son the Communist activist and Pietro his photographer grandson. Event is piled on incident, land is grabbed, good guys call for agrarian reform, bad guys are confronted, babies are born, elders die operatically slowly, faces are aged five years by sneaky editing. It's Fellini's Amarcord, with more politics but less sex. Ravishingly photographed by Enrico Lucidi, with music by Ennio Morricone, it's a glorious wallow in passionate nostalgia, and little else.