Life is Beautiful, a Drama Comedy Film by Roberto Benigni

Life Is Beautiful, explores the power of laughter to lift the human spirit even in the face of extreme tragedy. Director, Roberto Benigni is able to do this buy taking a fairy tale approach that is both funny and moving but With an unusual shift in tone midway through the film. Benigni who plays Guido in the film uses humor to deflect criticism and confuse his enemies and watching his adventures, we are reminded of Charlie Chaplin. Now lets take a deeper look in to Benigni’s fairy tale approach in Life is Beautiful.

Set In Italy in 1939, amid a climate of growmg anti-Semitism and fascism In the town of Arezzo, a City south of Florence, Tuscany, in 1939. Guido is an enchanting JeWish waiter With a fantastic imagination. Guido instantly falls for Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), a beautiful schoolteacher from a prominent family whos inconveniently engaged to a powerful fascist town clerk Guido becomes an undeclared rival With Dora’s fianc.

Also at the beginning of this film Guido makes friends With a German doctor (Horst Buchholz) who is a regular guest at the hotel and shares his love of riddles.

In this first half of the film, magic gives Guido a chance to Win Doras, In town, Guido sun/ives by quick improvisation. Guido by the fantastic manipulation of carefully planned coincidences, he makes it appear that he is fated to replace the dour Fascist in Doras life. Mistaken for a school inspector, Guido invests a quick lecture on Italian superiority, demonstrating the excellence of his big ears and superb navel to impress Dora.

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All of this early material, the first act of the film, is comedy- much of it silent comedy involving the fate of a much traveled hat. Only well into the film do we even learn the crucial information that Guido is JeWish which I think is done to show people that love can exist no matter what your religion or political views are, Dora, a gentile, quickly comes to love Guido, and in one scene even conspires to meet him on the floor under the banquet table where they kiss, and Dora whispers, Take me away! Several years pass, off screen.

Dora and Guido are happily married With a fiveryearrold son Giosue (Giorgio Cantrini), In 1945, near the end of the war, the Jews in the town are rounded up by the Fascists and shipped by rail to a death camp. Guido and Giosue are loaded into a train. and Guido instinctively tries to turn it into a game to comfort his son. Guido makes a big show of being terrified that somehow they Will miss the train and be left behind. Dora, not JeWIsh, would be spared by the Fasmsts, but InSISIS on coming along to be With her husband and child. Although, women and men road in separate cars on the train and Where segregated in the camp, Dora still wanted to be in the presence of her husband and son because what was being done Was Wrong and her love Was by far greater. Now Guido. who has always constructed marvelous and imaginative stories for Giosue, comes up with a doozy: that the horrors surrounding them are actually part of a complex game, and if theyre resilient and resourceful, they can win.

The rules for the game was the first one to get 1,000 points will win a tankrnot a toy tank but a real one, which Giosue can drive all around. Guido constructs this elaborate game to comfort and protect his son. In on scene Guido acts as the translator for a German who is barking orders at the inmates, freely translating them into Italian designed to quiet his sons fears. Throughout Guido and Giosues’ stay at the camp, Guido literally hides Giosue from the camp guard, With rules of the game that have Giosue crouching on a high sleeping platform and remaining absolutely still. With in the camp no one wanted to be sent to the showers. When sent to the showers you were examined by a doctor and sent to the gas chamber. In on scene Guido is sent to the showers but the German doctor is the one he used to waiter for. Guido tells the doctor that his son is here and hiding and some how the doctor is able to send him back to the barracks.

You almost can see it In the doctors eyes when he sees Guido, a good friend, in the shower line. That is the doctor feels bad for what he has been doing but now even worse because what he stands for has separated a Iovmg family who only helped others. Some of the second half of this film does not work out logically. Would have Guidos numerous antics gone unnoticed or unpunished at the camp? The fact of the matter here is Benignis particular skill and ability to pinpoint specific moments of encroaching horror, and the using sharp humor. lay bare the situations inherent absurdity and in humanity. The second half of this film is a tender and tragic treatise on the transcendence of a parents thought and the power of manrmade magic to reconstruct the world.

In the final scenes of the film, when the war is ending, Guido dressed like awoman is franticly looking for Dora. While doing this Giosue in hiding is a metal box in a Courtyard Within the camp and is told to wait until Guido comes back or when he can see and hear no one and they Will win the game. Unfortunately Guido is found posing as a Woman and is shot by a German soldier. Very tragic but in a faiw tale like sense Giosue obeying all the rules of the game comes out when he hears and sees no one, When Giosue immerges from the metal hiding box, immediately from around the corner comes a real tank.

The tank stops when they see Giosue and picks him up to give him a ride home Which is where Giosue wanted to go the whole time, Only a fairy tale could end With a fiver yearrold boy Winning a made up game that was made up to comfort and hide the horrors of the holocaust from him but the film is not quite over. While on his ride home on the real tank, Giosue is happy that he Won the game but not as happy when he sees his Mother, The tank operator stops the tank when he hears Giosue calling for his mother. The tank stops and, like a fairy tale ending, Giosue not only Wins the game but also reunites With his mother. Although Guido dies at the end of the film, he has made something so horrific for a five-year-old into something that is beautiful and that is trust and love.

Although the mood shift is surprising and extremely risky, it works, thanks to Benignis beautiful characterization of Guido, the storys guiding force. Moreover. its strong technical aspects keep the film Just slightly from reality. Tonino Delli Collis delicate cinematography. with its subtle shifts in lighting, combines with Nicola Piovanis score to give the story the universal appeal of a fable (L. Loewenstei). Some have taken the issue With Benignis treatment of the Holocaust suggesting that it trivializes. I feel that the film finds the right notes to negotiate its delicate subiect matter. Benigni is not really making comedy out of the Holocaust, anyway, He is shoWing that Guido uses the only gift at his command to protect his son. If he had a gun, he would shot the Fascists. if he had an army, he would destroy them. He is a clown. and comedy is his Weapon.

I saw him once in a line at the airport customs, subtly turning a roomful of tired and impatient travelers into an audience for a subtle pantomime in which he was the weariest and most put-upon, said Roger Ebert. After this statement about Benigni we can see that in Life is Beautiful Benigni Was Just doing what he knows best, taking difficult situations and enlightening them. I think that the film actually softens the Holocaust slightly, to make the humor possible at all. In a real death camp there would be no role for Guido. But Life is Beautiful is not about Nazts and Fascrsts, but about the human spirit. It is about rescuing whatever is good and hopeful from the Wreckage of dreams. it is about the hope for the future and the necessary human convrction, or delusion, that thing Will be better for our children than they are right now.

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Life is Beautiful, a Drama Comedy Film by Roberto Benigni. (2023, Apr 10). Retrieved from

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