Life is Beautiful - an Italian film - Directed by Roberto Benigni
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Life is Beautiful
(La Vita E Bella)
Italy - 1997
Directed by Roberto Benigni

Life is Beautiful


Roberto Benigni has achieved that which would seem impossible.  A comedy about the holocaust?  Unthinkable.  Most would agree, but not after seeing Life is Beautiful.  Benigni deftly crafts his story from scratch.  First allowing the viewer to be completely charmed by the irrepressible Guido, who arrives in the Tuscan town of Arezzo as the film begins.   His uncle, who works for a grand hotel, has arranged a job for him as a waiter.   We delight in Guido's conquest of the woman he loves, Dora, the beautiful schoolteacher (played by actress Nicoletta Braschi, Benigni's wife), whom he wins from her fascist boyfriend with his sheer joie de vivre.

The story takes a leap forward in time.  Dora and Guido are married and have a young son, Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini).  Guido's dream of owning a bookshop has come true and he couldn't be happier.  Life is beautiful for Guido and family until the looming threat of fascism gives way to the reality of Nazism.  Guido is Jewish.  He and his son are forced to go to a concentration camp.  Dora, who is Christian, is not forced to go, but chooses to follow her family.

Guido will not allow the events surrounding them to suppress his optimism.  Rather than allow his son to believe in the horror he is witnessing, he explains it as a game in which one earns "points" for enduring the camps hardships.  Giosue is promised a real tank if their "team" wins.  

Life is Beautiful won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival and eight David di Donatello(Italian Oscar) awards including Best Picture, Actor, Director and Screenplay.  Roberto Benigni has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Foreign Film.


Guest Comments

From: "Dave" 

"One of the best movies of 1998.  Most of the movie theater that I saw this movie in all stood up and clapped after the movie ended."


From: "Aimee" 

"Deeply Touching","This film is deeply moving and thought provoking. It leaves you pondering its message for days."


From: "Sabri Bebawi & Lamia"

"A GREAT production...It puts Hollywood to shame. We the minority of art lovers forward our gratitude to all those who worked on this production. We do hope that The American Academy of Moving Pictures will have the decency to recognize such a talent.


From:  hlffootz@mindspring.com 

"I went to see this film with great expectations and left after 45 minutes. The incessant mugging of the star, the almost Jerris Lewisesque nature of his comedy was simply not my cup of tea. Those who prefer verbal comedy a la W. C. Fields as opposed to Chaplin, might have similar feelings. I am sure many will feel I did not give the film enough chance to make its impact felt. If you consider my reaction to the star, it is easy enough to understand my disappointment."


From: "Syl" 

"An extremely moving film. Starting so frivolously that it doesn't seem possible that the movie will have an impact. Not knowing the story I found it incredible to find we were going into the horrors of the Holocaust. Is it possible that this story is non-fiction? It really was the story of an extremely courageous man, well worth seeing. "


From: "Linda Borrelli" 

"The content was brilliant, and the acting superb. The child was captivatingly natural. Thank you for your great work."


From:  "Nancy S." 

"A truly remarkable undertaking for a comedic actor to embark on such a ""risky"" undertaking as to put such an unusual take on such a horrific historical event. Bernigni has produced a magnificent and worthwhile film. Life can be beautiful for all of us if we adjust our attitudes and make the best of our lives and situations which are sometimes out of our control. I have recommended this film to many of friends. Foreign films allow us to come away from and reflect on what we have just observed: to coin a vintage phrase, they provide us, the audience, to hold up ""a moral mirror"" to our society and let us think more deeply about love, family and social co-existence. And! Without the sex, violence and ""razmataz"" of present day American films whose only trademark is to make history by making the most box office $$$$$. Thank you Mr. Bernigni!!!"
"I'm really glad that I found you. Your reviews are ""right on the money"". Thank you."


From:  "Sicnarf, from Virginia."

"I thoroughly enjoyed this great movie. I first saw Roberto in "Johnny Stecchino". He is a master comic. I never thought I could laugh and cry at the same moment until yesterday (not tears from laughing). Hollywood should get the message and try some of this real wholesome entertainment."


From:  Anonymous  

"Holocaust "Lite" - Reduces the Holocaust to air-brushed, family entertainment. Try "Au Revoir, Les Enfants" instead.


From:  "Mike"  

"I think this film being constantly called a "comedy about the holocaust" is a misrepresentation. The first half is certainly, but the second half of the film, though still light-hearted for its subject matter, shouldn't be clumped under a heading of comedy. What I'm saying isn't meant to detract from the film at all, this was the most beautiful and moving picture I have ever seen, I just think it is being somewhat misrepresented by constantly being called a "comedy about the holocaust," which might alienate some potential viewers."


From:  "TedA" 

"Bravo Roberto, cast and crew! Great movies begin with great stories and Life Is Beautiful tells one. It is a love story set during the Holocaust, not a Holocaust movie. The love that Guido has for his wife and son is powerful, and made more so by the stakes involved with a Nazi concentration camp and attempting to shield his young boy from the horrors of war. I was deeply moved by Benigni's adept interweaving of comedy and tragedy in this affirmation of life in all its complexity. Life is comedy, life is tragedy, but most of all Roberto reminds us that Life Is Beautiful. Bravo!"


From:  "W. van Leeuwen"  

"This realy is the BEST FILM EVER!!!!  See it!!!!!!  Begnini for president!!!!"


From:  "Mwahahaha me =)"  

"I would like to say that Benigni deserved all the awards he won. He is a great actor and director, and he really moved me with how wonderfully he made the movie. I never knew that a movie could be so funny, yet sad at the same time. Also, they spoke beautiful Italian, which i think is pretty cool! Go watch this movie, you definetely won't be disappointed. ???BRAVO ROBERTO!!!"


From:  "Amanda"

"Now the Italians have had a go of winning lets see if they can be so kind to give an Australian a go. Like Kate who deserved it over Gwynith."


From:  "Angie and David"  

"Concentration camp comedy'must be one of the most horrible tag lines ever given to a film.  That this film has survived such a title,speaks for itself.  A comedians view on life, and it's tragedy, is certainly just as valid as a philosophers. And in his art, Roberto Benigni has given much justification to this point.  The film is wonderful.  The story told, obviously through the eyes of a man remembering as a child, is almost unbearably touching and true. This point seems to have been missed, by some of the respected critics out there, who have staggered me with their reaction.   Thank goodness for people like yourselves on this page who have good sense."


From:  "anchar4@hotmail.com" 

"Buon Giorno Principessa... The best film ever"


From:  "Lizzie" 

"HELP!!!! Have seen "La Vita e' Bella" six times now (bordering on "groupie" status). I cannot seem to locate the screenplay on the web though, to buy. Not in English, however, in original Italian. Bravo, Benigni, to the most ""beautiful movie of the decade."


From:  "Hannah Thompson"  

"Thank you, Mr. Benigni...you have restored my faith in all things bright and beautiful...this movie is lovely, rarely can you think about one of the darkest periods in human history and come out thinking that maybe things will be ok. There are no words for this film...it's simply beautiful."


From:  "Seth Karlyle"  

"Why didn't it win the best movie Oscar?","Superb acting, superb story, superb "movie mood", making this movie one of the greatest movie, if the not the best. Even though I've seen it about 10 times, each time, at the end, I'm just so amazed how it makes you feel inside, like a kind a good calm mood, and I just sit there, the generic passing by, thinking about nothing, just thinking about thinking."


From:  "Gigi"  

"magnifico, bellissimo, la piu bella movie in tutto del mondo"


From:  "Maria" 

"I loved Roberto Benigni's La Vita e Bella and am happy to read so many positive comments about it. I'm taking my Italian high school students to see it and am eager to see what their reactions are."


From:  "piperoni"  

"I absolutely am in love with Roberto Benigni-not that I would want to break up his marriage with the beautiful Nicoletta Braschi who I also love-!!! I've seen Life is Beautiful 10 times (we have it here at the movie theatre where I work) and I still can't stop crying and laughing. I hope he keeps on making more movies that can bring about such emotions in me and in the rest of the world. Bellissimo!!!"


From:  "jimmy"  

"What a sensational movie. Just when I thought that a trip to the movie theatre was not worth making anymore. I hope that other producers are inspired by this masterpiece. Now, if only I knew the name of the Opera that is sung throughout the movie."


From:  "A viewer from Miami" 

I saw this film in Honduras twice. It was in Italian with Spanish subtitles. The comedy in the begining was very funny and ending very emotional. "Bella, bella, bella" magnificent work of art and a must see. One of the best this year !!!


From:  "Steve"  

" Benigni has done it! Combining comedy and tragedy in something that is so horrific and unbearable to imagine has finally discovered a light of brightness from the holocaust and make 'Life so Beautiful"". An experience for all ages to witness. This masterpiece will never be forgotten and will be held high in the realms of movie making. Congratulations Benigni! You took a piece of tragic history and have made people laugh and cry all at once. "


From:  "J. Fluckiger"  

"At the recommendation of a friend, I went to see my first foreign film, Life is Beautiful. I don't think I have ever felt so touched by anything. To be able to tell the story of a family enduring the horrors of the holocaust with such hope is truly amazing to me. I came away speechless, weeping and feeling as though I must to a far better job at making life beautiful, for me, my family, and anyone else who crosses my path. What a beautiful film."


From:  "INGRID"

"I'M STILL RECOVERING FROM IT. BY FAR-THE BEST PICTURE IN MANY YEARS. YOU FEEL EVERY RANGE OF EMOTION AND YOU ARE LEFT REELING IN DELIGHT FOR...EVER..."


From:  "me and my friend"

"Hello all you people who have watched one of the best movies ever! :) Anyway, I think that this is quite possibly the best movie I ever saw.  The acting is good, the sets are good, the music is good, the people are beautiful.  I could go on but you get the idea.  Anyway, to whoever was asking about the opera, it is by Offenbach. We don't know the title, but it may be Tales of Hoffman. (we meaning my friend and I). Oh, and the little boy is so cute! i would take him home in a second."


From:  "Princess"

"My high school English class just saw this movie, as we are learning about the holocaust. This is a wonderful movie with superb acting, and much better seen in it's original Italian with subtitles rather than a dubbed version. ""Life is Beautiful"" cleverly combines a man's love for his wife and son with the horrors of the holocaust. I highly reccommend this movie for anyone who wants to learn about the holocaust or is just in the mood for a good movie. A warning: don't forget a box of tissues! ;)"


From:  "Spencer"

"I am very proud to be an Italian and very excited that Hollywood FINALLY gave credit to such a talented foreign director/actor/screenwriter. Roberto, you are the BEST!. My daughter and I watched Life is Beautiful 3 times and we found it hard not to keep from laughing out loud and cry throughout the movie! What a great experience! GRAZIE, Roberto!"


From:  "Ladybug"

"I recently watched the movie, Life Is Beautiful starring Roberto Benigni, on STARZ, what a wonderful movie!! "


From:  "D"

"Shame on me for not going to see this film when it was in theatres. I just rented it and it was absolutely captivating! I forgot I was reading subtitles, because you get so involved in the characters. This is the type of film that keeps you thinking for days afterward.  Roberto! Molto Bene!!!"


From: "Hour Hokkhieng"

"'Life is beautiful' is quite an excellent movie which I have ever watched. It reflects the real human society in German during WWII. Moreover, the actor and actess are very suitable for this movie. Roberto Benigni is very handsome and Nicoletta Braschi is very very beautiful, and a little boy, Johua is also lovely, clever and very cute as well. Thank for establishing such movie."


From: "Dan Griffin"

"I had heard that this was a great film. During the first part of the film, I was wondering if I we had picked up the wrong flick. It begins with comedy reminding me of Abbott and Costello movies, not a serious movie at all. I am distracted with the subtitles. But I hang in there. A subtle transition takes place as the movie moves from the slightly absurd to the tragically and deadly serious. This thematic movement in Life is Beautiful is robust with a richness of human emotion, ingenuity and sacrifice. By the end of this great movie, I was oblivious to the the subtitles, I was touched by its message. A movie you must see to the end to appreciate the talent, artistry and great story."


From:  "Terry Comino"

"The film expresses and reinforces our humanity in many levels."

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