Cinema Paradiso, Giancaldo Italy - Cinema Electra, Loutraki Greece

Cinema Electra Loutraki

Once again, I watched Giuseppe Tornatore’s splendid film “Cinema Paradiso” and once again had vivid memories of the many summer evenings, spent at the open-air cinema; Electra, Loutraki.

Why this happens? I don’t know.

 The mind and how it associates certain things is a mystery, to me, at least!

Cinema Paradiso is an indoor Cinema in Sicily, a few years after World War II.
The Electra Cinema, outdoors and in Loutraki, Greece, first visited by me about twenty five years ago.

Cinema Paradiso. Giancaldo, Sicily

Maybe it’s the Italian scenery, the village life? Very similar to Greek village life, whatever it is, I love both the film and the Electra cinema!

Here’s a bit about the film, which, by the way, has a wonderful soundtrack by Ennio Morricone.

One of my choices for  balmy summer evening listening!

Find the soundtrack below.


Cinema Paradiso

It’s a film about lost innocence and nostalgia.

 Salvatore (Toto), a six year old boy played by Salvatore Cascio, who lost his father at the end of World War II, befriends Alfredo, played by the great French film star Phillipe Noiret, the projectionist at the local cinema: Cinema Paradiso.

Here begins Toto’s love of films and a poignant relationship with Alfredo, who becomes a father-figure to him.

Toto & Alfredo

The priest, Father Adelfio, who is also the local film censor, demands that Alfredo cut out all “inappropriate scenes” .

Unbeknown to Alfredo; Toto has collected all the cut offs and keeps them in a box under his bed.

Toto & Alfredo

Eventually, after being taught by Alfredo, Toto becomes the assistant projectionist and when offered a job on mainland Italy, Alfredo encourages him to accept.

Alfredo has recognized Toto’s talent and knows that the small village of Giancaldo (Fictional) has nothing to offer him, he tells Toto:

“Don’t look back, don’t write, and don’t give in to nostalgia”

Toto left and didn't return until thirty years later, after being informed of Alfredo’s death.
He returned as a famous film director, he had followed his passion.

After Alfredo’s funeral, Toto’s mother gives him a present from Alfredo, which he doesn't open until he is home.

It is a film, a film made from all the cut out scenes that Toto’s mother had found under his bed and given to Alfredo.

Toto, now a famous film director,
watching the film made for him by Alfredo.

It is a beautiful film, if you haven’t seen it, you must!

Open-air cinemas are the very essence of Greek summers, sadly; they are becoming
a thing of the past.

When I first came to Loutraki there were four or five, now, I think the only one left is the Electra.

Electra cinema Loutraki

The Electra really is a “Cinema Paradiso”

 It sits by the harbour in Loutraki, surrounded by Pine and eucalyptus trees with vivid-coloured bougainvillea trailing over the walls.

It is heaven to sit there on a summer evening, a cool breeze blowing off the sea, the gentle lapping of the waves and the heady aroma of jasmine, intermingled with the mouth watering smell of souvlaki being grilled, for the interval.

Cinema Electra Loutraki

Once the Electra has opened we know that summer has truly  arrived.

There are two showings every night, one at nine and one at eleven and on Tuesdays; children’s films, dubbed into Greek, all other films have Greek subtitles.

Through experience, I realized it was better to go to the early showing.

Because of the Electra’s close proximity to apartment buildings, the sound was turned down very low after midnight, so, if you couldn't read the Greek subtitles, you had a problem!  

My children loved it, most Tuesdays; we would sit at the seafront and, just as the sun was setting, take them along to the cinema, give them money for souvlaki and chips, which were served during the interval, get them settled in their seats. We would have a drink, in a little café, next door to the cinema and then collect them when the film ended.

Sunset in Loutraki

One summer, when my sister was here with her family, my daughter Nais , about seven years old at the time, took her cousins, aged about four and five to see the film Bambi, or some such.

Cinema Electra  Loutraki

We dropped them off as usual and went on to our little café.

 Just as we were finishing our drinks and about to collect them from the cinema, I saw all three of them heading towards us from the opposite direction.

Nobody had thought about the film being dubbed into Greek.

 Sophie and Matthew, knowing not a word of Greek couldn’t understand a thing, so, Nais, instead of coming back to us, very kindly took them on a tour of Loutraki!

I still shudder at the thought of those three young children sauntering around at night on their own!

Cinema Electra, Loutraki

This summer, I shall take my granddaughter, Melina, who by the time the Electra opens, will be nearly three and a half, old enough, I think.
We shall see.

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