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I recently completed a degree with the Open University and although I mainly studied the Social Sciences, the Open University gives you the relative freedom to chuck in a few random modules! I decided to study 2 x 9 month media courses and absolutely loved every single minute of them. One of the modules allowed that I would study the history of film over 6 essays and for one I must choose a French film and an Italian film and compare and contrast. I will have to admit that I am so stuck in my ways I was absolutely dreading this particular essays as I hate (or thought I did!) films with subtitles. How narrow minded was I?! When I finished watching what is now one of my all-time favourite films ever, I had laughed, cried and shouted at the TV enough time to make a crazy person think they are sane! This film grabs you and doesn't let go until the very end.
So now, I suppose I should tell you what the film is about?!.... It's a comedy about the holocaust (she says slightly cringing!). When we were first told about this film in a lecture, our tutor was quite open in that he just didn't get the film but insisted we should all watch it and make up our minds independently of others. This is most definitely true and you will either love it (like I did, and my husband did) or you will recoil at what some might call the insensitivity of it. The film is definitely a talking point and I have plenty of opinion about it, but I will say that you do need to remove yourself from the fact that is a comedy about the holocaust and think past that. Think about the title.....
Life is beautiful takes the holocaust and turns it into a comedy by trying to make light of a horrific situation. It is set in the middle of the war and follows the loveable and hilarious Guido Orefice (played by Roberto Benigni who is also the Director), who is a Jewish book keeper in Italy. The film follows from the beginning, the fairy tale romance with his wife and how they met. This is where a lot of the comedy begins and there are some very clever scenes. They marry and have a son Giosue and are all extremely happy together until the peacefulness is invaded by the occupation of the German forces in their village and they start to take away the Jews. I'm not giving away much (it's even on the back of the DVD!) by telling you that Guido and his son are taken away to a concentration camp where Guido uses his wit to keep them alive and also to keep from his son that they are actually in a concentration camp! This part is obviously so unbelievably sad as we all know the atrocities that occurred are true and happened to millions of people, but the scenes are full of comedy and laughs and you will find tears running down your cheeks while you are howling with laughter! Guido tells his son that they are actually in a competition and must do all they can to win the number one prize of a tank! The story seems in part so far-fetched but it really does work and there are many deeper meanings within the film that I won't bore you with but it really is a fantastic film, and also an important part of film history for Italy who were struggling to produce quality films before the release of Life Is Beautiful in 1997 (and Cinema Paradiso which is also an amazing film - review to follow!).
The film is terribly moving and definitely has had a lasting effect on me. I recently recorded it on Sky even though I own it on DVD and I will watch it many more times to come. The film follows human emotions and feelings but also the bond between father and son and the lengths a father will go to protect his son both emotionally and physically. There really could not have been a more suitable film title than the one it has. It also goes some way to show the human element of a Nazi, by portraying the friendship between Guido and a Doctor who Guido waits on every day in a plush restaurant where they share riddles and try and catch one another out. It shows the relationship in two different lights and this is also incredibly moving. The creativity that Benigni has in bringing this beautiful film together is evident on screen as you watch, and he mocks the Nazi's in various scenes which is hilarious to see.
The film has won many awards including 3 Oscars, a BAFTA, Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes Film Festival and Screen Actors Guild Award to name but a few (so it's not just me that likes it!).
I cannot recommend this film more and given its importance to the Italian film industry and its portrayal of the holocaust (especially from Italy considering their role) it really is a film that you have to watch at least once.
Life is Beautiful tells the story of a Jewish Italian family during their internment in a Nazi concentration camp. The movie is directed by Roberto Benigni and joined written by Benigni and Vincenzo Cerami. Released in 1997, the movie has won 3 Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Foreign Language Film and Best music, and nominated for Directing, Film Editing, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay.
Set in the Italian town of Arezzo during World War II, the movie begins with a rather 'cheesy' comedy/ romantic story of the parents, Guido a Jewish waiter then bookstore owner, and Dora daughter of a wealthy aristocratic family; the couple went though a series fast flowing events and ended up married. They had a really cute little boy (Giosue aka Joshua) but the very happy family life soon ended on Joshua's birthday when the father and the son, along with the uncle (Eliseo) were taken away, unknown to them at that point, to a concentration camp. The wife soon followed and entered the camp (her personal choice) to be with her husband and son.
In the father's best attempt to comfort his young son, he pretended the experience is a planned 'birthday surprise' - a point based competition where the prize is to be a real tank. Once in the camp, the father tried in every way to minimize the emotional and physical discomfort of the son by constantly bathing his son in the fantasy of 'a fun competition' and that they are winning, while finding channels of communication with his wife and to seek help with their escape.
The ending challenged my eyes one too many times to hold back the tears, I think it's best you find out for yourself what happened. I haven't the heart to be a wicked spoiler.
This is a simple story... but not an easy one to tell.
Life is Beautiful is set in Italy during World War II and centres around Guido (Roberto Benigni), a Jewish book keeper/waiter, Dora (Nicoltette Bruschi Benigni) an Italian School teacher and their son Giosué .
The film is in Italian, but there are subtitles and if you prefer English dubbing. I watched the film with the English dubbing.
Life is Beautiful is also known as La Vita E Bella.
Set in late 1930s Arezzo, Italy, during World War II. Life is Beautiful tells the story of Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni) and Dora (Nicoletta Braschi Benigni). Guido is a Jewish book keeper/waiter and Dora is an Italian schoolteacher, The film for me is is in 2 halves, the first is Guido's attempt to woo Dora. She is already engaged to another man. Undetered Guido seeks to charm his "Principessa" (Princess) and win her hand in marriage. To achieve this he uses a mixture of adult and rather childlike humour. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time, whether its to stop an out of control car or offer to suck the wasps venom from dora's leg after she has been stung.
The second half of the film deals with the Holocust and their struggle to remain together and even alive. They now have a son Giosué, and for them Life is Beautiful until, Guido and his son are to be sent to a concentration camp. Guido and Giosué are on the train ready to leave as Dora (unable to stand being parted from her husband and child) demands to be sent to the camp also, a fate which she does not have to endure as she is not Jewish.
To protect Giosué, from the horrors of life and death inside the camp Guido tells him "it is all a game" on their hoilday, and in order to win they must get a thousand points once they reach a thousand points they will get a real tank in which they can leave.
Giosué later refuses to take a shower, and unknowingly escapes being gased. As Guido hides him with the help of other Italian prisoners. This as strange as it sound produces some brilliant comedy moments. The big question is can they all survive until the camp is liberated?
I have not gone into huge detail as this would spoil the film for you
Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni)
Simply brilliant. He won the Best Actor award for this performance and quite rightly so. His comic timing is simply exceptional in every way. He delivers passion, humour and sorrow with ease. An outstanding actor.
Dora (Nicoletta Braschi Benigni)
From her surname you may have guessed that she is Roberto's real life wife. In the film there is obvious chemistry between them. She is delightful in her portrayal, charming, elegant and funny.
The opening of the film almost makes you forget the what the underlying message of the film is. However, for me that is the beauty of the film, simply to remind you that life is indeed beautiful. Roberto Benigni as both actor and director has worked magic in this film. It takes you through all the differing human emotions. His comic timing is simply brilliant. His natural desire to protect those around him he loves is very moving. He is ever the optomist but, this film gives you a optimism and pessimism in equal measures. His use of a game to protect his son from the daily horror of life in the concentration camp is both funny and tragic.
His good nature and undying love is the perfect answer to the abject horror of the Holocust and indeed the second world war. This really is a fantastic story and film. I defy anyone not to be moved by this film. Simply fantastic.
Without a doubt you should watch this film. Its simply brilliant.
Roberto Benigni ... Guido Orefice
Nicoletta Braschi ... Dora
Giorgio Cantarini ... Giosué Orefice
Giustino Durano ... Eliseo Orefice
Oscar: Best Actor in a Leading Role - Roberto Benigni
Oscar: Best Foreign Language Film
Oscar : Best Music Original Dramatic Score - Nicola Piovani
Director: Roberto Benigni
Writers: Vincenzo Cerami & Roberto Benigni
118 min (English dubbed version)
Language: Italian, German & English
To date, my favourite foreign language film had been 'Cinema Paradiso.' I have just finished watching 'Life Is Beautiful,' which I got bought for Christmas. Directed by and starring the loveable Roberto Benigni, the film scooped several awards including an academy award for best actor. It comes in at a brisk 111 minutes and in that time, manages to tell a truly captivating story.
We start by being introduced to the hapless Italian Jewish man called Guido, who has a job as a waiter. When he is not entertaining his diners, he is attempting to woo a lady he keeps bumping into (Nicolette Braschi). There is an obvious attraction between the pair and the first half of the film is about the build up of their romance. It is all done in a charming and amusing way, as Guido uses his sprightly personality to win her over. The couple wind up married with a son and the film then hurtles into the second half of the story. Carted off to a Nazi concentration camp, Guido tells his young son that the camp is a big game and that if they play it well, he will win a tank at the end of the game. His son believes him and Guido strives to stay ahead of the Nazis and keep his family's spirits up. It sounds dreadfully bleak, but the film is handled so expertly, that you never feel saddened by events.
Benigni delivers a thoroughly upbeat and exhausting turn in the lead role, lighting up every moment he is onscreen. There is amicable support from Braschi as the wife and even his young son offers an enjoyable and touching performance.
A wholesome and whimsical soundtrack which runs throughout never weighs the film down and works well with the beautiful set pieces. With no real violence, bad language or anything of an adult nature, it is a film that the whole family can enjoy. Stunningly shot, often very funny and astute and very different from hollywood mainstream, I recommend it.
Life is Beautiful is a life affirming Italian film about the Second World War, it takes an incredibly scary period and shows how the human spirit can overcome fear and hate.
Produced by Disney, the film is directed and stars the Italian Comedy actor, Roberto Benigni, he plays the Italian Jew, Guido, a good hearted and clownish man who meets the love of his life (Nicoletta Braschi), they have a son, (Giorgio Cantarini).
In Mussolini's Fascist Italy, Guido and his son are taken to a concentration camp, to shield his son from this horrific spectacle, Guido tells his son that they are in the camp as part of an elaborate competition to win a camp, he makes everything into a fun game and some of the more laborious horrible elements of the camp are made into laugh out loud situations by Guidos wonderful improvisation and imagination.
This film is stunning in every sense, the horrible nature of the concentration camp is not ridiculed, it is played seriously and touchingly so, Benigni is wonderful in the lead role, he mixes madcap with pathos and a wonderful affection for his son.
Cantarini is wonderful as the son, he is cute and wide eyed and his innocence makes his father all the more determined to shield him from the chaos.
The film is beautiful and poignant, a father is willing to sacrifice everything to shield his son from the full horrors of the camp, the film is silly at points but this is underlined by some incredible acting and some touching, tear provoking acting, it is a bittersweet tale that makes you proud of the real human spirit and horrified by the awful nature of hate that was brought about in this period.
The film rightly won oscars for best picture and best actor and those who denigrate it, really don't have the heart or mind to appreciate it isn't trying to be anything other than a wonderful story of the human spirit.
The DVD is available for £3.97 on Amazon and includes subtitles.
Life Is Beautiful (1997) (Italian with English subtitles) stars Roberto Benigni who not only plays the lead role of Guido but also directs. Winner of three Oscars including best foreign language film Life is Beautiful is a good movie.
However, I would say it is good but not great. The film is split into two parts. The first part based in Florence, Italy follows Guido A young Italian Jew looking for work and a better future. Guido settles and find himself a wife Dora and in time has as son Joshua.
This first section of the film is in the style of a rom-com with slapstick humour. It shows Guido to be a quirky character who is full of life and seems to enjoy the challenge of winning the hand of Dora. Whilst their lives are all together perfect things take a very dark turn for them.
In the second part of the film the Nazi's have rolled into town and Guido, Joshua and Dora find themselves in the concentration camp. In this section Guido and Joshua are seperated from Dora. Guido spends his time trying to protect Joshua from the horrors of the camp.
With such a grim chapter of European history on display Life is Beautiful handles this really well. The film is not necessarily about suffering Jews or the horrors of the holocaust (Schindlers List) but more about the strength of human character. Guido's human and merry way with Joshua even in the knowledge that his fate looks bleak is heart-breaking to watch. Guido stays strong though and never shows his terror to his son he simply explains it to him as if they are just playing a big game.
This film, whilst on the same subject as Schindlers List, tackles the concerntration camps in an entirely different style. With the comedic role of Guido staying consistent right to the end of the movie. This is such a sad film but one that is beautiful.
Is it a great film? Well for me no, not great just good. The scenes in Florence are drawn out and padded in truth. The film does plod along in parts. Once inside the concerntration camp the film really does develop nicely and the strength of Guido really comes to the fore.
This is a good watch and like Schindlers List records for all time the horrific events of the 2nd world war.
Quite possibly my favorite film. This movie is an Italian made fairy tale directed by Roberto Benini in which he also plays the main character, Guido, who is a happy-go-lucky, humorous type of person. Guido shows his true character when he's trying to get with Dora, his princess. Years later, Guido and Dora have a lovely family in dark times. Nazis are just coming to Italy and soon they will whisk little Joshua (Gosue) and Guido away from their loving home. Not knowing what to do Dora asks the SS to join them without realizing that she's going to a concentration camp. The movie is a heart-breaking story of the courage of a father trying to keep his son and his family alive at the worst of time, having endless courage and making sure that his little boy's faith in humanity is preserved by making the worst nightmare in any father's eyes a simple game. Absolutely gorgeous and hilarious.
First time I have seen this movie I was only 13 years old, but I have remembered this movie for years. Life is beautiful is unforgettable movie and first time, when I went to the rental movie store, I knew I just have to watch it again. At first I was little disappointed , when I could not find it, but of course I was looking in wrong section. Finally I found it between internationals movies. It made a big smile on my face , because I was excited to watch it again. At first I though the movie will be with English dubbing, but I was wrong again. It has only English subtitles. Yeah , I know some of us are lazy to read the subtitles through all movie, but please don't be. This is one of the best way how to learn another language. And tell you truth, I don't think anyone can imitate their temperament, because Italian people are really original with their expression and style of their talking.
Roberto Benini (Guido) is coming to a city to see his uncle and stay in his house, what have been using only for storage and no one have been living there for long time. Guido is travelling with his friend in the car but the breaks all of sudden breaks down and they have to repair it. Near the street where they stop is a little farm , where Guido is meeting first time Dora (Nicoletta Braschi). She jumps from the hay-barn right to his arms. Right then he makes very good impression on her and introduce himself as a prince, even if he is only a waiter. After that he is meeting Dora almost on daily basis, but they never arrange it, it is just the struck of luck. Make the long beginning of the story short, after a while Guido win her heart and they have beautiful boy Joshua. He is only about three years old, when he have to face cruel reality of the World War two. Guido is Jewish and he and his sun have to go to the concentration camp. After Dora get to know that, she goes to the train station, where all people are waiting on the trains for their deportation. Dora is trying to get on the train to be with her husband and her sun and she is being successful after convincing one of the Hitler soldier. There is a lot what is going on in the camp (hard work, putting old people and kids to the gas....) and that's why Guido is playing game in front of his son and convincing him that all this is only game and if they win , they will get a real tank. He just want to protect his sun and that's why all the tragic thing happening in the concentration camp are somehow simplify by Roberto Benini and you will find a lot of hilarious moments in the movie. But sometimes you will just struggle between the laugh and tears. Ending of Life is beautiful is breathtaking and you will have probably tears in your eyes like I had.
I think Roberto Benini could not play his role any better and the message from the movie he is giving us is how we should protect our kids from the cruel truth when we are in situation between the life and the death.
Life is beautiful win 3 Oscars and was the best movie, of the year 1998. I have rent this movie for $5 , but I have seen also in the amazon, where you can purchase it.
Thank you for reading.
It's the late 1930s and Guido, an easy going Jew, arrives in the Tuscan town of Arezzo, where he dreams of opening a book store. Too finance his dream he gains temporary work as a waiter at a local hotel. Whilst working towards his dream, he meets Dora, a local school teacher who is engaged to a local Fascist official. This doesn't stop him from wooing her with his romantic gestures and humour. Finally winning her affections, they get married and have a son called Giosué.
Several years on, and the family are sent to a German-run Concentration Camp where Dora is separated from Guido and their son. Too try and make the harsh surroundings more bearable, Guido convinces his son that they are part of a huge game, where you win points for behaving and doing as you are told, with the winner getting a tank.
Life is Beautiful (La Vita è bella) is an Italian film, which has English subtitles, but before you stop reading dismissing this as something you wouldn't watch, I urge you to read on. The film is set during the Second World War and follows the life of Guido as he creates a life for himself in Arezzo with his new family but unfortunately ends up in a concentration camp, the whole time trying to make life as enjoyable as possible for his loved ones. The film is a beautiful mixture of comedy, romance, drama and war, which although is very humorous it also shows the darkness of the war. The film is actually split into two halves, the first half which covers the arrival of Guido to the Tuscan town and his romance with Dora, culminating with them having the perfect little life. The second half of the film is the harsher side, where it is set in the brutal concentration camp. Whether this side of the film is historically accurate, I cannot say as I am no expert, but it certainly made the horrors very real.
In the lead role of Guido is Roberto Benigni a very prominent Italian comedian who prior to this was known for the disappointing "The Son of the Pink Panther". Benigni brings a sort of Chaplinesque slapstick to the film which is a major reason why the film is so watch able to all audiences. You actually forget that you are listening to Italian dialogue or reading the subtitles as he tells the story through his actions. If it wasn't for the beautiful soundtrack, you could switch off the volume and still fully understand the movie. Opposite Benigni is his real wife Nicoletta Braschi as Dora who although doesn't provide the humour, is still great as the object of his affections. Finally, there is Giorgio Cantarini as their seriously loveable son, Giosué. Cantarini also featured in Russell Crowe's Gladiator as his son. There are plenty of supporting actors and actresses in the film all of which are reasonably well known in their native Italy.
The film is also directed by Roberto Benigni and it is no surprise that he received an Oscar nomination for his direction, plus he also won the Oscar for Best Actor. What he has achieved, is to keep the film simple enough so that it will appeal to a universal audience, whilst also giving it enough depth to keep you entertained. Also, the sound track really helps to set the mood in every scene, from the light hearted string pieces during the first half of the film, too the much more sinister and heavy pieces in the concentration camp. This is one of the very few soundtracks to a film that I have ever bothered buying, purely because it is so beautiful.
Roberto Benigni .... Guido Orefice
Nicoletta Braschi .... Dora
Giorgio Cantarini .... Giosué Orefice
Giustino Durano .... Eliseo Orefice
Lidia Alfonsi .... Guicciardini
Sergio Bini Bustric .... Ferruccio Papini
Giuliana Lojodice .... School Principal
Amerigo Fontani .... Rodolfo
Length: 116 mins
Conclusion & Rating
This is one of my favourite films, purely because it's the performances which tell the story rather than the dialogue. Benigni is a brilliant comic, and at times this film harked back to days of Chaplin, with side splitting slapstick comedy. Although the film does have the dark undertones of the Second World War, it treats it in a respectful but easy to watch manner. I know that being a foreign language film, it will not appeal to a lot of people, but I seriously recommend you watch it as it will open your eyes to a better quality of film making. Life is Beautiful is available on Amazon for £5.97 which is a very reasonable price to pay for a film which will open a whole new genre of films to you.
Over 15 years ago, Israeli playwright Joshua Sobol had a tremendous run at the National Theatre in London with his play Ghetto. The play told the story of a theatre group performing amid the madness of the Warsaw ghetto. In the play, one group objects to the existence of the troupe claiming that any levity in the context of the surrounding atrocities was dishonourable and in poor taste. The counter argument is that the refusal to perform, the denial of art, humour, life represents victory for the anti-humanity of the Nazis.
Robert Benignis wonderful movie covers much of the same ground and sparked many similar discussions upon its US release in 1998 (1999 in the UK).
Benigni won an Academy Award for his performance as Guido. At the start of the film we see Giudo fall in love and woo his principessa, Dora, played by Nicoletta Braschi. The chemistry between these two performers is utterly charming. Married in real life, Benigni and Braschi are such an unlikely looking couple that you cannot help but believe their happiness at finding each other.
They have a son, Giosué, and they seem to be perfectly happy. But then the movie takes a sinister turn. Guido is a Jew. He is arrested by the Italian police and sent to a concentration camp. Dora refuses to identify herself as anything other than her husbands wife and she is taken too. Somehow Giosué ends up traveling with his father without their captors knowing and Guido decides that the only way to rationalize their lives from this point forward is to pretend to his son that it is all a game. Guido explains the points system to his son warning him that he will lose points if the guards ever spot him or if he cries or if he asks to see his mother.
Even writing this now I am aware what a bold movie this is. Benignis father was a prisoner in Belsen from 1943-45 and he wrote at the time that his screenplay was dedicated to the people who were held with his father and to the stories that survived. It is overly simplistic to suggest that the movie is life affirming. There are too many unmarked graves for this to be the case, but Life is Beautiful is a smart, funny and honourable fiction about human beings in mans darkest hour.
The DVD is available from Amazon.co.uk for £6.97 and rated PG.
The DVD is in Italian with subtitles although it may also be watched with a dubbed English soundtrack. There are no special features.
Title: La Vita è Bella (Life is beautiful) Year: 1997 Director: Roberto Benigni (Subtitles) Intro: I've been a member of dvdsontap.com (now known as lovefilm.com) for a while now, and this has been waiting in my queue for ages. My boyfriend was a bit sceptical when i told him that it was a comedy about the holocaust (what i'd heard from a friend) but we decided to watch it anyway. I'd just like to point out that i usually wait a while before posting reviews of films that i have seen recently, but this one just made me want to tell as many people as possible about it, so i apologise if the review isn't up t my usual standard, having not had the time to digest the film properly. Plot: Guido, a jewish man, goes to the city to see his uncle, and discover the delights of city life. While there, he finds romance and excitement in the form of Dora. later, tragedy strikes and Guido and his son must find a way of escaping the horror that is a Nazi death camp. Overview: I was going to section this, but I'm not sure how without trivialising it. I hope you don't mind if i liberally abuse my usual structured style. Firstly i have to say that i have not seen a film like this in years. I have not cried at a film since i was seventeen, I though I'd grown out of it and become tired and cynical in my old age (!) but apparently i haven't - this had me weeping buckets. But then i suppose that's because it's not meant to. There's not a Spielberg-style manipulation here, I just found it almost painful to watch. Sorry, I'm getting carried away, I'd better start again. the film starts off innocently enough, with guido and his friend driving through Italy in search of his uncle. The early scenes, and the ones in the city are good, but not particualarly spectacular. I found the subtitles intrusive, because I feel that if i had known Italian the scen
es would have been even more funny. I say 'even' because if you're a fast reader there is a lot of appreciation to be gotten from the early scens. If not, don't worry because there is more than enough here to make the point that this is a lighthearted man with a heart of gold who has fallen in love. however, the coupling is not adored by everyone, and the earlier suggestions of anti-semitism come to the fore as guido and his son are shipped off to a concentration camp. the difference with this film though, is that, unlike 'Schindler's List' and other films attempting to show how bad the concentration camps were, this one actually succeeeds. The approach it takes is like no other film I've seen. Guido gets through the later part of the film by describing their occupation f the camp as a game. he has an explanation of everything which makes it seem like fun. This sounds like it's trivialising the whole situation, and I'm sure that in the hands of any other director it would be, but somehow benigni makes you feel in a way that films rarely achieve these days. It's hard to describe without giving too much of the plot away, but somehow the coping strategy of guido and the constant upkeeping of spirits despite what is thrown at him, makes this film more unbearable than any 'realistic' account of what went on in these places. The fact that someone would care so much for this child to be so unselfish in his attitudes and actions is incredible, and such an original approach. The first part of the film, despite featuring some slapstick comedy that i found to be a bit silly in places (i suppose a bit chaplinesque) was completely necessary as far as character development goes, something which i was a bit wary about from the start. The performances of the actors are hard to judge with a subtitled film i find, but did not find them bad in any way. loved the fact that benigni overplayed the cheerf
ul father role, making everything sound exciting, so that at times even i found myself believing him that everything was going to be ok. The scenery is gorgeous too. The part that struck me being the shot at the station as the train to the camp is pulling away. no pathetic fallacy for benigni: Life 'is' beautiful, even when perhaps it would be better for it not to be. Conclusion: What else can i say: the direction was superb, the script was entertaining at worst, genius at best, and at the end both my boyfriend and i were in tears (and he is really not one to cry at films). I would recommend anyone who has sat through histoy lessons thinking "yes the holocaust was bad, I'm bored now" to watch this film, and also anyone else. it moved me in a way i didn't think was possible with a film, and made me feel good about myself that i had been moved. what more could you ask for in a film? This is going straight in my top ten.
Several years ago I remember an Italian actor winning an Oscar and literally jumping for joy on the stage. I'd never seen him before and thought him a funny looking man. That night, the movie he starred in won two other Oscars too, and it was an incredibly popular choice with the audience. The man was Roberto Benigni and the film, which he starred in, directed and co-wrote, was called Life is Beautiful. I made myself a mental note to watch it some day, and I finally got around to it last week. To say that I was glad I did has to be my understatement of 2002. Life is Beautiful (1998) is set in Italy during the Second World War. It stars Benigni as Guido, a likeable, excitable bumbler who moves from the countryside to Florence and becomes a waiter. Guido loves beauty, loves thinking, loves knowledge, and loves life. He sees the good in everything and everyone. His most endearing qualities are his fantastical and childlike imagination, his kindness, and his quick and often cryptic intelligence. In Florence Guido falls in love with a schoolteacher, Dora, and woos her through a series of genuine and set-up 'surprise' encounters. The two marry and have a son, Joshua. Guido opens up a bookshop - his dream - and together they live a happy, magical life. But Guido is a Jew, and this is fascist Italy. One day, Joshua's fourth birthday, while Dora is out, Guido and Joshua are taken away and put on a train to the concentration camps. Dora chases after the train and demands to be put on it too. On their arrival at the camp, Dora is sent to the women's quarters while Guido and Joshua go to the men's. Guido is determined that Joshua's innocence and happiness will be preserved, and pretends that the whole concentration camp experience is an elaborate game. His camp tattoo thus becomes his and Joshua's 'registration number' into the game. The winner will be the first person to get to 1000 poi
nts, and the prize is a real tank. In order to gain points, Joshua must keep himself hidden all day every day when Guido is working, and in order not to lose points, Joshua must not cry, or ask for his mummy or for a snack. As life goes on in the camp and children disappear for a 'shower', Guido thinks of ever more fantastic reasons of where they have really gone and how it all fits into the game. Ditto when Joshua overhears people talking about how the Nazis are burning people in ovens and turning them into buttons and soap. Guido also finds ingenious ways of letting Dora know that he and Joshua are still alive and thinking of her. She never knows whether these 'messages' are real, but her belief that they are is what keeps her going through her own terrible ordeal. The performances in Life is Beautiful are absolutely perfect. Benigni is masterful as the bumbling, lovable, quick-witted Guido, and his concentration camp scenes, where he caries the burden of knowing the truth whilst trying to make life 'fun' for Joshua, are superb. Giorgio Cantarini as Joshua is outstanding. He manages to show us innocence, a great sense of fun, a huge intelligence, an underlying fear and a longing for his mother all at once. The beautiful Nicoletta Braschi as Dora is equally good, and her lonely, steadfast scenes in the camp are truly moving. Life is Beautiful is an incredibly moving and very funny film. Yes, funny! The pre-camp scenes are full of slapstick, wit and romance, and these moments persist through the second half of the film despite its utterly bleak setting. At the time of the film's release, some critics accused Benigni of making fun of genocide, but thankfully most saw that this was not the intention of the film at all. I have never seen a film that manages to portray so many emotions and so many sides of humanity simultaneously. The tragic camp setting is made all t
he more affecting by the contrasting humour, and in a way the humour is all the funnier by its dreadful backdrop. In common with so many of the concentration camp films, Life is Beautiful strongly reaffirms the strength and dignity of the human spirit and the power and necessity of hope. It is a story about Nazism, a story about love, a story about relationships and in the end, a story about sacrifice. Life is Beautiful was the highest grossing non-English language film ever in the US and it deserved to be. It is a movie that is eminently watchable, rich in character and storyline, and ultimately heartwarming. How it manages to walk such a tightrope between comedy and tragedy, genuine emotion and schmaltz, and come out triumphant on both counts, is quite remarkable. I've hardly stopped thinking about this film since watching it. It has been hailed as 'a modern masterpiece' and in this case such praise is entirely justified. If you only ever see one subtitled film in your life, make it this one and you will not be disappointed. Running time 111 minutes Italian with English subtitles Available on DVD from play.com for £8.99 delivered
I cannot get on with subtitled films, I don’t know if it due to middle-aged eyes, lack of concentration or just plain laziness so it was all the more of a surprise to me when I saw this film and thought it was fantastic. Life is beautiful (La vita e bella)an Italian film with English subtitles has changed my thinking and shown me that it can be worth the effort. Actually I honestly forgot I was having to read them I became so absorbed in the story. I am sure you will have seen this film by now, either at the cinema, in video or on DVD, I have done all three and I think it is fantastic! I saw it first with one of my sons and his wife when they were here visiting from the States and just amazed myself at my reactions to it. If you want to excursus a whole mass of emotions during one film then this is the one to watch. Please don’t think that I do not appreciate humour but I do not easily laugh out loud at films or TV but here again quite out of character I spent the first half of this film unable to stop laughing.It is set in Italy durng 1939 when we see the main character, Guido (Roberto Benigni) meet and then win the affections of Nicoletta Braschi with such wit and imagination! As the story goes along our two main adult characters marry and sometime later they have a son. Now let me say at this point I was so glad that I had been told what the story was about because there is a sudden change of pace and atmosphere. Guido and his son are taken away by Nazis and put on a dreaded train to a place that many never returned from. His much-loved wife is not taken but, as she thinks, to remain with her family she puts herself on the train too. Of course they are parted the ‘men’ from the woman and Guido has then the protection of his son to deal with. The remainder of the film is about there time in the concentration camp and how Guido keeps up his sons spirits (with a deal of difficulty) and also amusingly ma
intains brief moments of contact with his wife. He manages to convince more or less his son that the whole expedition is an elaborate game with the winner receiving a tank as their prize! You could be forgiven if you had assumed that the humour ended when they entered the camp because it does not. I certainly found my laughter very much subdued and tears were never far from my eyes. As just maybe you have not yet seen this film I will not talk about the ending but I will just urge you to go and buy it as soon as you can. Don’t waste time or money renting it because you will want to own it! Like most of you I was born after the war ended (though not as long after as most maybe!) but I think it is imperative that we do not lose sight of the things that happened. Not to keep alive bitterness or hatred of any race but to remind each of us of what people are capable of and can be led into so we can guard against repeats, (whoops too late if you’ve seen the news lately) well at least here. This film won three academy awards including Roberto Benigni for best actor, (you remember him at the Oscars don’t you, so excited and using up all his English on his first acceptance speech!). He stars with Nicoletta Braschi but it really is Roberto’s film. He stars, produces and writes it as well. The other two Oscars were for best foreign language film and best music, original dramatic score. As I mentioned before I already owned the video but when it became available on DVD I could not resist, even though I had told myself I would not duplicate, this was to be the one exception! The quality of picture and sound (Dolby digital) is great and as always I love being able to jump in at a chosen scene. The DVD is broken down into 27 all absorbing chapters but doesn’t have a lot of extra features. You can watch the DVD in its original Italian or in English, personally I feel it is better seen as intended. Of cour
se it has English subtitles and also Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and to finish Finnish (sorry). So why would I recommend it, because it’s 111 minutes well spent, it is extremely funny and equally moving but not slushy. Having first seen it with my son I then bought the video as soon as it was available and spent weeks trying to persuade my other son and daughter to watch it with me. After some time my son did and I think he rated it as highly as I did, however my daughter has yet to see it. In a way I am envious of that because there is nothing quite like being a virgin watcher, seeing a great film for the first time!
Throughout the begining section of this film it's a slow mover and quiet hard to beleive that the lead characters are actually living in Nazi Italy. Please people, do not be put off by the fact it is subtitled and in Italian (DO NOT USE THE DUBBED SOUNDTRACK) my girlfriends mum walked out of the room when we put it on and she realised. When she came in at the end she said "oh this looks good what is it?!?" The story goes like this........the main character (who is Jewish) lives in Nazi Italy. He is a very fun loving guy, heartwarming once we get to know him and seems to refuse to notice or accept the bad things that go on around him. He is not the most attractive guy but his personality shines though and he is determined to get this pretty lady he kept meeting up with! His "principessa" - so the first part is where he woes her and it has some very funny bits in it, but it's hard to pick up on the some of political jokes (like the fact one guys children are called Adolf and Benito!) because of the speed of subtitles......so for maximum enjoyment then this is something you have to see a few times BUT you will not be dissapointed on the first showing. So the second part basically tracks the downward standard of life for the jews and our hero and his little boy get taken off to the labour camps. But the whole time our star tell the boy it is a game and if they win they will get a magnificent prize! The boy is totally sucked in and really it shows the fathers love and care for his son in the face of the Nazi's hate. It is very funny and also very clever and sad to see his denial of the terrible things. It's amazing the white lies he comes up with to fool the boy! A classic film, one of my favourites. I don't want to give anymore away! SO WATCH IT!
Italy's rubber-faced funnyman Roberto Benigni accomplishes the impossible in his World War II comedy Life Is Beautiful: he shapes a simultaneously hilarious and haunting comedy out of the tragedy of the Holocaust. An international sensation and the most successful foreign language film in US history, the picture also earned director-cowriter-star Benigni Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor. He plays the Jewish country boy Guido, a madcap romantic in Mussolini's Italy who wins the heart of his sweetheart (Benigni's real-life sweetie, Nicoletta Braschi) and raises a darling son (the adorable Giorgio Cantarini) in the shadow of fascism. When the Nazis ship the men off to a concentration camp in the waning days of the war, Guido is determined to shelter his son from the evils around them and convinces him they're in an elaborate contest to win (of all things) a tank. Guido tirelessly maintains the ruse with comic ingenuity, even as the horrors escalate and the camp's population continues to dwindle--all the more impetus to keep his son safe, secure and, most of all, hidden. Benigni walks a fine line mining comedy from tragedy and his efforts are pure fantasy--he accomplishes feats no man could realistically pull off--both of which have drawn fire from a few critics. Yet for all its wacky humour and inventive gags, Life Is Beautiful is a moving and poignant tale of one father's sacrifice to save not just his young son's life but his innocence in the face of one of the most evil acts ever perpetrated by the human race. --Sean Axmaker