60/60 Extra: Life Is Beautiful.

In a long line of Nazi films this month, here comes another centering in a concentration camp. Fortunately, it's one that I was relatively looking forward to. I've been wanting to see this one for a while. In fact, someone once asked me to review this film in a comment quite a while back. Also, funnily enough, director Roberto Benigni's Oscar win is my earliest memory of the Academy Awards (I was at least 13 when it happened, so I wasn't that young. I guess it was just the biggest moment, so it stuck with me). I just remember loving it when he jumps up, climbs over a couple chairs, dashes for the stage, and makes one great speech. And boy did he deserve it.

Life Is Beautiful tells us the story of an Italian Jewish waiter named Guido Orefice (Robert Benigni), a man full of fancies and who has not a care in the world. He keeps running into a woman named Dora (Nicoletta Braschi) whom he calls Princess and falls in love with. Eventually they get married and have a son, Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini), and open a book store. Unfortunately, they're in the middle of World War II, and the family ends up in a concentration camp. To keep fear out of his son's life, Guido tells him that everything is a game and that once they reach 1000 points, they'll win a real tank. But with every passing day, it gets harder to keep that illusion alive, but Guido makes sure nothing stands in the way of keeping his son safe, mentally and physically.

This was one of the most simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking films I've seen. The whole movie is fantastic and beautiful from start to finish. Guido is an amazing character--funny and charming and romantic and carefree and loving. The first half of the movie with him trying to get with Dora is amazing. It's really funny and, again, heartwarming to watch. But then it jumps ahead a few years and pretty fast they end up in the camp. Even from the trip there, Guido is making sure his son thinks nothing dangerous is going on.

Needless to say that the acting is great. There were quite a few times when they spoke too fast and the subtitles were on and off the screen before I could finish reading, but that's no fault of the film's. Robert Benigni also won an Oscar for lead actor for this film, and he did definitely deserve it.

There's no real reason for me to go on with this as a review. Everything about this movie is fantastic. Even though it's another concentration camp movie, it's different. It has a more optimistic view than most others. Most are gritty and depressing. And while there still is the sense where you know Guido is worried and pained, it's not about that. The focus is on his relationship with his son and his wife and how he'll do anything to make sure he knows they're safe and that he loves them. So in a film set in a place of death and evil, the true focus is purely on love and goodness. So at that, I'm just going to stop reviewing, because I honestly don't think I have a fault in this movie.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese


  1. One of the things I love about this movie is that it is so upbeat, so charming, even in such a desolate and sardonic place that it really manages to make the ending all the more shocking, because you just don't think that could ever happen in a world like this.

  2. Glad you mentioned you'd watched it in Italian. For a moment I worried that you'd seen a dubbed version. There's something about how it's written and the way Roberto speaks that keeps you engaged.


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