La vita è bella
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FAQ for
Life Is Beautiful (1997) More at IMDbPro »La vita è bella (original title)

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A NOTE REGARDING SPOILERS

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. It is assumed that no one who is diligently avoiding spoilers will be visiting this page in the first place.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDbs Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for La Vita Bella can be found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118799/parentalguide.

In an interview, Roberto Benigni said the riddle has no solution - it was nonsensical to point up the ridiculousness of the situation.

Despite this, a plausible answer does exist, and it's "a jew". In fact, the initial part of the riddle, in italian, is:

Grasso grasso, brutto brutto | tutto giallo in verit: | se mi chiedi dove sono | ti rispondo "Qua qua qua".

The English version, which was fairly but not completely accurate, is:

Fat, fat, ugly, ugly / truly all yellow / if you asreferring to cowardice, and 'quack, quack, quack'

The only answer Dr. Lessing proposed is "duck", but he knows it's wrong. That's because of the misunderstanding of the word "qua/quack". "Qua!", in italian, is the cry of a duck, but it also means "here!". And the word "here" answers to the questions contained in the previous verse "se mi chiedi dove sono = if you ask me where am I".

So, in that context, the answer is "a jew". Furthermore, to the eyes of a nazi, the stereotype of a Jew is a fat, ugly person with a yellow skin.

So, that riddle in English is meaningless. But in Italian it's pretty obvious & shocking, which is why Guido is horrified. Guido also realizes that Dr. Lessing knew the answer but he didn't want to accept it, so he loses his mind. This also explains Guido's reaction--it's mixed with pity for the doctor. And of course Guido realizes his chances of escape have been dashed.

A better english translation would say "cheep, cheep, cheep" instead of "quack, quack quack", so to keep the cry of a bird but also to sound like "cheap, cheap, cheap", as a reference to the prejudice about Jewish avarice.

Attention!! Is there an Italian who speaks German?

Listen! I say this only once There's only one reason why you have been transported to this camp-- to work!! Any attempt of sabotage will be punished immediately with death penalty. The executions will take place at the courtyard by shots in the back. You have the honour to work for our great German fatherland and participate in the construction of the greater German empire.

You should never forget 3 basic rules: 1. Don't try to flee! 2. Follow every command without asking! 3. Any attempt of a rebellion will be punished by hanging!

Is that clear!?! You should be happy to work here! Nothing will happen to you as long you obey the commands. Obedience is everything!!

And another thing At this whistle, everyone into the courtyard- fast!! Muster in two rows --SILENCE!!-- every morning with appeal.

One more thing~ You will work over there and you will recognize the dimensions of this camp easily.

Page last updated by tiqty, 3 months ago
Top 5 Contributors: bj_kuehl, klantry, AriArnold, tiqty, paul_coada

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