The role that art plays in human lives is not the only theme of the movie, it also speaks of how life conspires without ones knowledge and leads people to where they end up. Life is like a giant puzzle for each person, events have conspired since the beginning of the universe to lead to their lives. This is not to say that human lives are predefined or that destiny controls the way people end up but more like that the people and events that came before each person effect our lives, just as the people and events around oneself does. For example if someones great great etc etc grandparent died and didn’t have a child they would never have been born nor would one of their parents etc obviously. But even in the most simplistic parts of daily lives everything from the school people go to, to the last horrible blind date are affected by outside events that most people never find out about.
Although eventually in “Cinema Paridiso” Salvatore learned how Alfredo “chased” away Elena, most people never get the chance to realize these background maneuvers. Without Alfredo’s meddling Salvatore may have have his own personal “Happy Ending”, however he may have just ended up realizing that the romance he had with Elena was not what he wanted out of his life too late and ended up unhappy anyway but in this case never to realize his dreams. Although many people are quick to pas judgment on Alfredo saying what he did was right or wrong, no one can know if that was the best choice. Instead all we can say for sure is that Alfredo did what he thought was best and in the end that is the best that anyone can do.
As for Alfredo telling Salvatore to never come back, I believe this was to protect Salvatore from the nostalgic sentimentality that would give him cause to regret his decision. It would also force Salvatore to make his mark on the world without thinking of home as an obligation, something he would have to return to eventually just to keep up appearances. By forcing Salvatore to leave the town behind completely Alfredo was forcing Salvatore to face any problems that would inevitably arise from his new life instead of giving up and returning to a “security blanket”.
Movies for the most part are a way for people to live other lives and in essence to live vicariously through another person’s shoes. Foreign movies are especially good at this because they not only let you live in another life but another culture through that cultures eyes.