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Life Is Beautiful (1997)

La vita è bella (original title)
PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama, War | 12 February 1999 (USA)
1:30 | Trailer

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When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp.



(story and screenplay by), (story and screenplay by)
634 ( 12)
Top Rated Movies #26 | Won 3 Oscars. Another 66 wins & 46 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Giustino Durano ...
Sergio Bini Bustric ...
Ferruccio (as Sergio Bustric)
Doctor Lessing (as Horst Bucholz)
Giuliana Lojodice ...
Pietro De Silva ...
Francesco Guzzo ...
Raffaella Lebboroni ...
Claudio Alfonsi ...
Rodolfo's Friend
Gil Baroni ...
Massimo Bianchi ...
Man with Key


In 1930s Italy, a carefree Jewish book keeper named Guido starts a fairy tale life by courting and marrying a lovely woman from a nearby city. Guido and his wife have a son and live happily together until the occupation of Italy by German forces. In an attempt to hold his family together and help his son survive the horrors of a Jewish Concentration Camp, Guido imagines that the Holocaust is a game and that the grand prize for winning is a tank. Written by Anthony Hughes <husnock31@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


An unforgettable fable that proves love, family and imagination conquer all. (Canadian one sheet) See more »


Comedy | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for holocaust-related thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




| |

Release Date:

12 February 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Life Is Beautiful  »

Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$118,920 (USA) (23 October 1998)


$57,598,247 (USA) (1 October 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (first release)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In Italian, the answer to the "Snow White" riddle is seven "minuti" - a play on words between "minutes" and "dwarves". See more »


Just before Guido is caught by the spotlight at the end of the movie, a woman belonging to the group of Jews being deported smiles to the camera. See more »


[first lines]
Giosué Orefice: [narrating as an adult] This is a simple story... but not an easy one to tell.
See more »


Referenced in The 100 Greatest War Films (2005) See more »


Belle nuit (Barcarolle)
from the opera "Les contes d'Hoffmann"
Music by Jacques Offenbach
Libretto by Jules Barbier (uncredited)
Performed by Montserrat Caballé (as M. Caballé), soprano and Shirley Verrett (as S. Verret), mezzo-soprano
Recorded by RCA Victor
New Philharmonia Orchestra (uncredited)
Conducted by Anton Guadagno (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The best foreign language film I have ever seen.
25 June 1999 | by (Toronto, Ontario) – See all my reviews

I typically don't care much for sub-titled movies. Foreign films to me are slow and about nothing. So I naturally went to see Life is Beautiful with a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to hate it. I wanted it to be just another movie that Hollywood was praising to show that they were an intelligent bunch of people. Oh boy was I in for the surprise of my life. Not only is this film good, I honestly believe that it was the second best film of 98, next to Saving Private Ryan. The mere fact that Shakespeare in Love won best picture over not only Ryan but over this, is a joke. It's actually funny.

Benigni did everything in this film. He wrote, produced, directed and probably swept the floors at night. There is that much raw energy in this film. There really is. For someone to have that kind of vision is truly incredible. And not only is the film a terrific cinematic experience because of the importance and seriousness of the subject matter, but it is one of the funnier films I've ever seen. When Roberto is translating the German soldiers insructions to his son so that he isn't scared, it is at that moment that you realize you are under his spell. He's got you and no matter how much sceptisism you may have about the film you know you're witnessing a classic in every sense of the word.

I loved this film. Loved everything about it and I am so glad that I got to see it and cheer Benigni at the Oscars. He certainly deserved his best actor award and he should have gotten more.

178 of 287 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Americans , really ? rabarbers144
I'm sorry, but I don't get it. mcintyre-15
Not in the IMDB Top 250 kent_over_pi
Greatest Italian movie ever? I don't think so... art_of_cinema
ok for those who cried.... jono101
Italian version with English subs or English dubbed version? artknish
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