[Notice: If you haven't seen this film, watch the original theatrical version.]
In the 154-minute extended cut of this film, we find out Alfredo tried to convince Elena that if she loved Salvatore, she must leave him for his own good, but she was unsure, and left Salvatore a note, with an address where she could be reached and a promise of undying love and loyalty. Salvatore never found her note, and thus never finds her, not for more than thirty years. Salvatore asks Elena why she never contacted him or left word of where her family was moving to. Elena tells Salvatore that she had indeed left a note for him before her family moved away to Palermo. Later Salvatore returns to the Nuovo Cinema Paradiso and searches through the piles of old receipts stuck on nails on the wall of the projectionists booth. There, under 30 years of old receipts, he finds the note that Elena had left him but that Alfredo had never given him. It was Alfredo that had kept them apart so the Salvatore would leave to seek his fortune.
It then ends with Salvatore returning to Rome and viewing the film reel that Alfredo left for him, tears in his eyes. The mood is far more bittersweet, as Salvatore sees Alfredo as both the source of great love in his life — and great loss.