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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)
576 ( 7)
Top Rated Movies #25 | Won 3 Oscars. Another 66 wins & 51 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Giustino Durano ...
Sergio Bini Bustric ...
Ferruccio (as Sergio Bustric)
Madre di Dora
Dottor Lessing (as Horst Bucholz)
Lidia Alfonsi ...
Guicciardini (as Lydia Alfonsi)
Giuliana Lojodice ...
Direttrice Didattica
Pietro De Silva ...
Francesco Guzzo ...
Raffaella Lebboroni ...
Claudio Alfonsi ...
Amico Rodolfo
Gil Baroni ...


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. 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 USA:

$118,920, 25 October 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$57,598,247, 3 October 1999

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$229,163,264, 30 June 2012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (first release)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Box office of the film reached more than $225 million internationally. See more »


Horst Buchholz (Dr. Lessing) is mistakenly credited as "Horst Bucholz." See more »


[first lines]
Giosué Orefice: [narrating as an adult] This is a simple story... but not an easy one to tell.
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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)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The best foreign language film I have ever seen.
25 June 1999 | by 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.

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