Newest Review: ... 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 ... more
An unforgettable fable that proves love, and family conquer all
Life Is Beautiful (DVD)
Member Name: carlz2001uk
Life Is Beautiful (DVD)
Advantages: Characters, comedy, clever clever film
Disadvantages: Its a Comedy. About the Holocaust....
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.
Summary: 5 stars