Life Is Beautiful (1997) Poster

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The Best Movie I've seen for a long long time
kvonarx6 December 1999
I am surprised about the negative comments that some people made on this web-page. I can see how some people might not experience the same kind of uplift or joy that most of us lived through when seeing the movie. But that some viewers felt insulted and betrayed because the movie did not depict "reality" as it really was or is, is not fair.

I must concur with my fellow proponents of the movie -- it was a great and very satisfying movie. It provided me with something that everyone in one or another shape or form needs -- Hope. The movie showed the cruelty of life and yet managed to shed some light and insight into the beauty of love and life in general.

I urge anyone who has not seen La Vita è bella to go out there and watch it. If we all take with us just little bit of that hope and love that this movie is trying to convey; this world would be a much better place.

Thank you for reading this and I hope you enjoyed or will enjoy the movie as much as I did.
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Courage Personified...10/10
Conservative-SNAG23 October 2004
I can't understand how other reviewers see this as a film about the Nazis or the Holocaust. It's not!!! "Life is Beautiful" is a film about love, optimism, courage and inner strength.

To be honest I can't get this film out of my thoughts and decided to write this brief review in the hope that I could move on.

"Life is Beautiful" is an unforgettable film. You go through emotions you were surprised could have for a fictional film. The story, although totally implausible, is uplifting and depressing at the same time.

Please see it for yourself. Have a box of tissues handy.

Best film ever seen!!!
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One of the best movies ever.
amira_berzi29 August 2000
This is one of those movies that have a lasting effect on you. After watching it, I found that it has less to do with the Holocaust and more to do with the human feelings and the beautiful relationship of a father and his son. The holocaust provides the ultimate context, that brings and highlights the story and adds yet another deep dimension to the movie. No such piece of art has ever before combined laughter and tears of sadness in me before and that is the miracle of the movie. The realism of the movie is not its strong point, but then again it is not supposed to be; this helps in bringing the audiences to a state of mind away from reality, focusing on the feelings generated by forgetting about all external events and developments of the war. Despite that, the movie does not fail to point out an element of the nazi psychology demonstrated by the doctor who was obsessed with riddles. This portrayed the nazi 'state of mind' (if ever such an expression existed) as a sick mentally disturbed state. Life is really beautiful as you watch Guido's relentless efforts to make a lovely exciting experience of the concentration camp to his son. You get exhausted just watching him going through his painful day and yet you smile as he speaks to his son and makes him laugh. One can go on forever describing the creativity of this movie, but one will not be able to capture all its beauty in writing.
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Funny, entertaining, and amazingly intense and dramatic.
Anonymous_Maxine27 March 2000
I find it sad that so many people are so narrow-minded that they will not watch a movie that is black and white or, in this case, is subtitled. I feel sorry for people who refuse to watch a movie like Life Is Beautiful just because it is a foreign film. They have no idea what a beautifully acted and directed film this is, and they'll never know what an amazing experience they are missing.

Life Is Beautiful manages to walk the extremely thin line between humor, fantasy, and tragedy. Sure, the film is clearly comedic, but nevertheless it manages to very effectively communicate the tremendous losses suffered in the Nazi concentration camps and has scenes at least as intense as any scene in Schindler's List.

This is one of the best films that I have ever seen. It manages to be so encompassing that you hardly notice the subtitles are even there. I proudly cast my vote of 10.
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Monika-53 January 2000
This may be one of the best films ever made. I've never seen a movie with such a balance of hysterical comedy and serious drama. Roberto Benigni totally deserved his Oscars. People on this site have said such negative things about him and this film. Mr. Benigni had a lot of guts to make this film, and there's not another film like it. He handled both the comedy and drama aspects beautifully. I loved the beautiful cinematography, scenery, and the characters. This movie is magnificent in every way. Don't miss it!
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A superb tragi-comedy
Serpico-726 February 1999
Roberto Benigni's Vita e bella, is in many ways similar to Chaplin's Great Dictator. Both are comic attacks on fascism, but the former's is the more successful. Benigni initially accesses the emotions of his audience through simple comedy, which is a pleasant mix of Keaton and Chaplin. Romance ensues with his real life wife Nicoletta Braschi. The first half of this film has been seen by various critics as being inferior to the second, but this is certainly not the case. In the first section we follow the delightful romance that will eventually lead to marriage and the creation of the wonderful Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini).

It is the first half where the audience can laugh the loudest and delight at the immense comedy talent of Benigni. Unlike so many films nowadays there is nothing crude or course, his is simple innocent humour, which is all the more effective. The way he ties together little strand in the film to create comedy elements shows a great writing ability, and a mastery of timing when it comes to their execution on screen. Various incidents related to the rise of anti-semitism and fascism in Italy show that there are sinister forces at work which come to the fore in the second segment.

Guido (Benigni) moves events on from Tuscany in 1939 to the last year of the war in a concentration camp. In this period he and Dora (Braschi) have had their son Giosue (Cantanarini). The five year old greatly reminds me of Toto in Cinema Paradiso, and plays an equally important role in his prospective film (though in Paradiso's case it is at the beginning of the movie). The relationship between the two is very similar to that of Jackie Coogan and Charlie Chaplin (though Benigni, unlike Chaplin, keeps the best of the comedy moments). Guido attempts to keep from the boy the horrors of what is going on, and this eventually manifests itself as a game where the aim is to score 100 points, with the winner winning a real tank (which, of course appeals to the young boy). Comic moments are still present, that involving Guido's translation of the rules of the camp is particularly notable, but it becomes somewhat more difficult to laugh when we consider the gravity of what is going on.

The emphasis begins shifts, and we realise that this is a film about human spirit above all else. Guido not only appeals to the audience due to his comedy and sheer pleasantness, but also in the way that he loves his family and the measures that he will go to to protect them.

This is certainly no Schindler's List, but it never pretends to be. Occasionally events seem a little contrived, but this does seem to work in the film's favour. However, this film avoids the tendency of Hollywood to go far over the top in emotional and credibility terms.

Benigni shines like a lantern throughout the picture, showing that he is a talent, not only in comedy terms, that far outshines his peers. Cantanari is a delight, and Braschi also plays her part well. There is even an appearance by The Magnificent Seven's Horst Buchholz as Doctor Lessing, a man who events change for the worse.

Please don't let the fact that it, to all but the Italians, is a foreign language film. The language itself adds a beauty of form to the film, much as it did in the case of Il Postino. This has to be a certainty for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, though something tells me that it will be overlooked for other awards as it is Italian and not a mainstream English language picture.

Please see this film, and make up your own mind. It is appealing in so many different ways that I'm sure that you will not be disappointed.
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One of the Best Movies I've Ever Seen
farkas41930 January 2006
The first time I saw the movie was when I was about seventeen or so, and I never forgot it. The incredibly human characters (such as the doctor who loved riddles), the fantastic script-writing, the amazing acting, and of course the heartwarming story. This movie proves once and for all how strong we are, as humans, that in the face of adversity we can make the best of things. There is so much love in the characters; Dora's love for her husband Guido is boundless, as well as Guido's love for his son. Sure, it's a slightly unrealistic movie, but hey, aren't they all a little unrealistic? I've also seen people review this movie and say that it made light of the Holocaust, which was of course a dark point in history. I don't think so; I think that it's only delicately handled, and because of that, the movie is one that a person can watch in one sitting without being thoroughly disgusted by mankind. I would say that those who think this movie is too "light" are cynical and bitter. The whole point to the movie is to show what love is capable of, and to provide encouragement and perhaps guidance. This movie changed my life from the first time I watched it. I came away with this feeling that no matter what I have to face in life, that I can overcome it. This is a movie that I would recommend to anyone over the age of eleven. The acting is superb (though Roberto Benigni is a little over-the-top, LOL), the story heartwarming and easy to understand. It's excellent!
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The most aptly named movie - A classic
gaur-abhi12 November 2005
I have never in my life seen a movie that so truly symbolizes its name and its message. Roberto Benigni - 'The Italian Treasure House' has probably given to his viewers his best. The story, the performances, the entire theme of a person performing his duties as a husband, as a father is very 'moving' and inspiring. 'Life is beautiful' as the name goes is about a Jewish man, who falls in love with a non-Jewish lady, marries her, has a kid and who is then taken as a prisoner in a concentration camp along with his wife and kid. But the way he protects his kid from the horrors of the genocide, how he always tries to find ways to make his wife and kid smile and laugh, is what makes the movie, a MUST SEE.

It is certainly one of the best movies that I have seen.
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A satire set in a concentration camp, tough a hit internationally, was thought by some critics to be in bad taste...
Nazi_Fighter_David4 September 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Mixing humor and the Holocaust isn't anything new: Ernst Lubitsch's 'To Be Or Not To Be' is just one enduring classic; Mel Brooks' 'The Producers' is another; and 'Life Is Beautiful' has the small-town charm and ambiance of 'Amarcord,' and light-straight satire of 'The Great Dictator.'

Set against the stark reality of World War II Europe, Roberto Benigni's sentimental fable is not a film about the Holocaust, it's a film about life and hope merely against the backdrop of the Holocaust... It's not a denial of the Holocaust, it is a manifestation that humor itself can be courage... It's not about betraying the experience of millions of Jews, it is about the great lengths a father will go to protect his family from the horrors of the Nazis... It's a demonstration of the power of cinema, it's art without claim, hope without fear, dreams without limitations... It's a motion picture about love, not a documentary about the Nazis... It delivers a powerful message that despite everything—life is truly beautiful...

The story begins in 1939 Italy, where a simple, free-spirited Italian Jew Guido Orefice (Benigni) and his poet friend Ferrucio (Sergio Bini Bustic) have dreams of owning their own bookstore... For now, however, Guido must be satisfied to wait tables, while Ferrucio is unable to get a job...

Benigni's character is introduced during a long set of fast comedy scenes, particularly when he meets a cute gentile woman, Dora—Nicoletta Braschi, Benigni's real-life wife... When she 'falls out of the sky,' and he quickly nicknames her 'Principessa'... When he rides, in a fascist ball, on a horse painted green... When he turns a gloomy rainy night into a red carpet event... When he is caught by the Nazis as he hurries about securing the safety of his wife and son.. When his car speeds, without brakes, through a village and is mistaken for a king...

Guido falls hard for the radiant schoolteacher, daughter of a wealthy family, and pursues her with all the charm and imagination he can discharge... In one sequence he pretends to be a school inspector and gives an impromptu speech on racial superiority before the assembled students and teachers, ending with a striptease...

That hilarious side of the film takes up the first half... Benigni (who also wrote and directed) borrows a bit of Chaplin's grace and a bit of Groucho Marx charm... All of the action is so neatly contrived that the film essentially ends when it's over, and then begins again with the introduction of Guido and Dora's cute five-year-old son Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini) few years later...

There, in 1945, we catch a glimpse of their enchanting household, but things are soon shattered, and the Nazis take Guido, with his tolerant uncle (Giustino Durano) and little Giosue off to an unidentified concentration camp... Dora races to the train station and demands to be put also on the train...

At the death camp, and in order to protect his son from the nightmare of the place, Guido uses his imagination by creating the illusion that everything that's happening is just a game, an epic game that will be exciting and fun...

He convinces Giosue that by hiding from the Gestapo soldiers (whom he refers to simply as the "men who yell a lot") and maintaining silence, he can gain the necessary points to win a tank... Not a toy tank, but a full-size tank, which they'll be free to take home...

As co-writer, Benigni (with Vincenzo Cerami), doesn't just mix drama and comedy, he often hides drama in the comedy... The film does not dwell on the horrors of the camp, nor does it ignore them...

With a memorable score by Nicola Piovani, "Life Is Beautiful" is an important film, triumphant, timeless, and sublime... It manages to entertain, educate, and move with its potent combination of humor, poignancy, and dignity... Roberto Benigni has taken pure horror and turned it into a love story between a man and a woman, between a father and his son... As an actor, Benigni manages with his wise and simple performance to make us laugh in tragic situations... He was very realistic, natural, distant from great special effects, far from Hollywood style, only nice and beautiful cinema...

The film won Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Foreign Film and Best Dramatic Score...
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The best foreign language film I have ever seen.
baumer25 June 1999
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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A Movie About Hope
gbheron12 November 2000
Life Is Beautiful takes the premise that love and hope can survive the most trying of conditions, in this case a Nazi concentration camp. Most everyone knows this very popular and honored film, so I won't belabor the story. Briefly, in my humble opinion, this film deserves all the accolades it's been awarded. A near perfect film, my only gripe is that Mr. Benigni's performance could have been more understated, especially the half of the film that's set in the concentration camp. But this is only a slight complaint. For a joyful, life-affirming movie, Life Is Beautiful is tops. But be forewarned, as its principal backdrop of anti-Semitism and Nazi murder, it is not a very happy movie.
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A movie filled with love & hope.
ellendellen14 December 2001
I love La vita è bella/Life is beautiful. It's one of my favorite movies and Benigni is fantastic! I laughed until I cried when he translated the Nazi soldier´s threats to Italian. I was skeptic to non-English movies before, but after seeing this movie I can easily say that I'm not. I thought it would be a problem that I didn't understand the language, but Benigni isn't just a talking actor. He is an acting actor, and I don't think I missed a lot being dependable to the subtitles. I sure hope not, but I guess you always miss a bit.

I have seen other movies about the Holocaust, but they have all been so dark. Not surprisingly since the the Holocaust is a dark chapter in our history. But it's painful to watch them. It's easier to watch La vita è bella, because it's not as dark, but it still succeeds in telling the story about the Holocaust.

And Roberto Benigni doesn't joke about the Holocaust as some criticizers claimed. He simply puts some love and hope into it. And I get the message. Love is everywhere, even in the darkest of places.
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Poignant , misunderstood masterpiece
steve_y11 May 2005
There are a small handful of reviewers who are lambasting this film , crying phrases like "unrealistic and contrived" , "emotionally manipulative" and most risibly "an insult to the memory of the victims of the holocaust".Id like to address such interpretations.

In the latter day audiences search for films bereft of cliché, derivativeness and lack of independence there seems to be a counterintuitive rationale that if a film cannot be explicated and stand up to analysis from every myriad aspect of possible critique, then it lacks worth or merit , taken as a piece of work in its own right.It should be suggested that the intent of the film is so clear,the aims of the film so evidently manifest, that to brand the film unrealistic and then carp on with minor details regarding obvious inconsistencies, is to not be able to see the film for what it very plainly proclaims itself to be.

This film NEVER tries to be realistic in the modern sense of film critique, this film freely admits to being contrived, this film unashamedly focuses on the characters at the expense of portraying an historically accurate reality.For the whining reviewers to not see this, is either an example of disingenuous folly or plain hard-heartedness.

The film is driven by ideals, of romance and of selflessness.This film clearly asks the watcher to suspend belief, to enter into its fantasy, to embrace the human emotion as elucidated through the characters.Not only is this film NOT an insult to anybody who has ever been persecuted (Jew,Chilean,African,Russian,Japanese,Chinese,Cambodian - the list of persecution goes on), rather it heightens empathy for such people in this plight ,through the use of poignancy.Its intent is NEVER to trivialise such.Yes the uniforms aren't dirty enough , yes Guido takes ridiculous risks,yes the likelihood that the German guards knew some Italian are apparent but the question is - given the context of the presentation - do those niggling details matter ?

Surely the film is engaging the viewer on an emotive level,evoking empathy for the individual case,for the desperation that sees a father moved to unthinkable extremes in an attempt to prolong the life of his son.Thus - surely , Guido's actions should not and never were intended to be 'realistic' but rather he is - to our despairing eyes ,simply pathetic ie he is evoking pity.How any discerning fair minded person could honestly and objectively brand this film as disrespectful and hateful because of comedic elements, is missing the point by oceans.This film is about the individual circumstance and thus the slapstick and ingenious way we are drawn into knowing the characters and the way we are immersed in the burgeoning love story of the small boys' parents, necessitates the audience to empathise,to engage,to feel.

The by-play between father and son is to look at innocence personified,the bitter sweet forgoing of self in a seemingly doomed essay at escaping the impending inevitable spiral into oblivion.I think Life is Beautiful is an important work that might demand a rethinking of priorities by hard hearted critiques , who may have to shed that veneer of bloody-minded nitpicking and, to wit, see the forest for the trees.Of course the film is flawed,what film attempting such a tight balancing act between comedy and poignancy isn't? But there is a certain state of mind and spirit that needs to be adopted to be receptive to its message and i fear perhaps that such vulnerability and innocence required seems too hard and bitter a pill for some.If only they dare taste - its sweetness and candour resonate persuasively,indelibly.
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A beautiful film... but not an entirely perfect one
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews6 February 2005
When I first saw this film, I was told up front that the first full hour of the film, the first half, was all slapstick comedy and character development, and that the second half was more serious and important. I prepared myself mentally for the first half, but I was still surprised by how annoying the gags and jokes were. We're talking cake-in-face, fall-over, slip-on-banana humor. For one full hour. At the end of the first half of this film, I was thinking "this had better get better very soon..." And it did. Right then and there. From the very beginning of the second half, the serious mood enters. And it doesn't take long for even the most average minded viewer to realize that the first half of humor and character development was important. It was important for us to ease into a less tense mood, to make the important subject strike even harder, and for us to get to know the characters, to make us care more about what happens to them. I've just finished seeing it for the second time, and I've come to realize that this film is not entirely perfect, as I felt just after seeing it through first time. It does have its flaws, though there aren't many of them. The first half, and some parts of the second half, are heavy on humor, which some will mistake for making fun of the subject(which is almost a crime), or trying to make it seem less important. I don't believe this to be true, it's just a retelling with a more positive message; yes, people do horrible, inhumane things sometimes... but after all, there is beauty, too. The first half will also deter some viewers who will enjoy the second half much more. The plot is very good, though slightly unrealistic. The acting is pretty much all flawless, even in the child actors. The characters are well-written and interesting. The humor is more acceptable in the second part, because it's more toned down and not trying way too hard to get a quick laugh out of the audience. All in all, a great film which anyone and everyone should see at least once during their life... you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll realize that, in the end, Life Is Beautiful. I recommend this to just about anyone, but I know that not everyone will enjoy it equally. A near-perfect film. Keep watching past the first half... you won't regret it. 9/10
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Life IS beautiful, but I prefer to take the "Train of Life"
NoRealityShows4Me13 May 2003
When I rented this movie, about 2 years ago, I thought I was going to love it. It already had an Oscar and the ratings on IMDb were very high, so could it not be great? It was a BIG disappointment! I thought `Life Is Beautiful' lacked consistency most of all. It this movie was a Holocaust fairy tale (!?) for everyone to enjoy, it should have ended with the nazis and prisoners dancing and kissing each other, because `love conquers all'. If it was a comedy, I should have laughed more than twice. And if it was realistic, it would have ended sooner and tragically. Fortunately, my family didn't experience the Holocaust, but I have read enough about it and seen enough pictures, that I can never understand how you cannot be offended by this movie. I think a lot of people don't realize how wrong it is to trivialize the Holocaust, because it doesn't seem real to them. Can anybody even imagine a comedy about 9/11? I didn't think so. Maybe 50 years from now, when it doesn't seem so real and tragic.

Last week, I watched `Train Of Life', an European co-production about the inhabitants of a small Jewish village in Central Europe who organize a fake deportation train so that they can escape the Nazis and flee to Palestine. The subject seems as unrealistic as LIB's, but the very surprising ending makes the movie brilliant! I absolutely loved `Train Of Life', the story, the acting, the music, the humor, everything about it!

I wanted to learn more about Radu Mihaileanu, the Romanian director (a Jew himself) and found an article from "Le Nouveau Cinema" (feb.1999), entitled "Inferno Train". According to "Le Nouveau Cinema", director Radu Mihaileanu, who also wrote the script for "Train Of Life" wanted Roberto Benigni for the role of Shlomo, "the village foul". He sent the script to Benigni in 1996, but was refused politely. Strangely enough, less than a year later, Benigni was directing his own Holocaust comedy movie! Having trouble with finding financing for his movie in France (because of the delicate subject), Mihaileanu started filming a year later. This delay was more than enough for Benigni and his `La Vita E Bella'. His movie was out in theaters in Italy, during Christmas, while `Train Of Life' was still in editing. Because of the scandal surrounding the 2 movies, Gilles Jacob, the person in charge with the selections for Cannes, refused both. After Miramax bought the rights for `Life Is Beautiful' for 7 million dollars, the movie was finally selected for Cannes! In spite of everything, `Train Of Life' was nominated and won awards (about 9) all over the world. It even won the Audience Award at `Sundance' (tie with `Run Lola Run'). I recommend `Train Of Life' to everybody!
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themadstork29 December 2003
There are very few movies, no matter how bad, where I come away personally disliking all those involved. "Life is Beautiful" is one of those movies. Why because beneath the shiny, happy coating "Life is Beautiful" embodies a narcisstic and almost nihilistic view of the world; I say this because Begnini et al. are apparently willing to use genocide to infuse a poorly written, badly acted, and sloppily directed movie with dignity it doesn't deserve. And make no mistake this movie is all three. The drama is fake, the segments don't flow, the acting sophomoric, the history laughable, and the characters stereotypes at best. Begnini can do slapstick and there is a funny bit or two, but these add up to nothing and seem positively grotesque in light of what comes later. This movie is the most banal and manipulative sort of crowd pleaser, the sort that assumes the crowd is composed entirely of idiots, but because it nominally concerns the holocaust otherwise intelligent people are unwilling to call the movies cynical little game for what it is, fearing the -"What you didn't like 'Life is Beautiful?!' No don't say anything else you don't have a soul," or the more common, "Well go back to your Jerry Bruckheimer movies." Well in all honesty that's an insult to Mr. Bruckheimer. His movies may insult my intelligence, but never to the level this movie did. At the predictable and overdone ending I remember thinking, "I know what you want me to do movie, but there's no way I'm buying." Worse this movie is an insult to anyone who had to suffer because of the Nazis and their fascist allies. Watching this movie I'm reminded of how Salem, MA uses historical atrocity as a kitchy tourist draw (going so far as to put witches on broomsticks on the sides of police cars). Begnini uses the holocaust to draw in suckers in the same way. Group Mr. Begnini with the all those in the holocaust industry who are willing to use the worst atrocity of the 20th century to open wallets and flatter their inflated egos. Beyond being an insult to the victims of National Socialism this movie is terrible because it crowds out much better movies on the same subject. Everyone chalks in "Life is Beautiful" as their art movie of the month and ignores better movies on the holocaust like "The Ogre," "Invincible," or "Heimat."
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Shows a Lighter Edge To A Tragic Event In History
eric26200328 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I never thought the day would come when a movie centred during the Holocaust would be provided with humour. The Holocaust was anything but funny then and now as thousands of Europeans of Jewish faith were killed off mainly towards fear, paranoia, economical insecurity and just plain hatred. But once in a while towards sadness, we can open our hearts and try to survive the grimness with some humour to raise our spirit. And that is exactly what actor/director/writer Roberto Benigni succeeds in "Life is Beautiful". It's a refreshing break from the graphic and and disturbing images that has haunted the theatres past and present like Spielberg's "Schildler's List" or Polanski's "The Pianist" as we look to a more brighter side of the Holocaust mainly toward the humour of the leading protagonist, Guido Orefice (Benigni).

When it first came out and it was listed as a comedy, I thought it was just too surreal to be true. I mean nothing funny ever happened in the Holocaust. And film adaptations have been quite demonstrative at that. In those troubled times, lives were lost, families were separated, people were cold, starving fear and doubt was on the minds of Europeans Jewish and non-Jewish. at the time. But Benigni showed his mastery in front and behind the camera that we can enjoy the goodness of life, even in times of uncertainty because we only live once and we must enjoy it while we can.

Benigni was not the only person who made this film all the more worthwhile. Nicoletta Braschi turns in a wonderful performance as a Catholic girl who loves her husband regardless of what religion he practises. A grand portion of scenes demonstrates just how pointless racism is and the best example is set in the schoolroom scene.

Concentration camps are one of the worst establishments anyone would ever dream of entering and yet in this movie we can enjoy a chuckle. In one scene, Guido persuades the soldiers as he defends his son as a ploy to prevent his son from further dire circumstances. While we laugh as he tries to weasel his way out from further punishment, we are still aware and concerned about the welfare of Guido and his young son and the dangers they are encountering.

The fearful and depressing effects of the Holocaust is exhibited in brief moments of sad truths that weave into Guido's detailed fantasies. But you never see him fall victim to disparity. His wild imagination and his determination are the only weapons of protection he utilizes to keep his family and his son in tact. The remarkable story of love and tenderness is worthy enough for everyone to see. This movie should be cherished for a long time to come.
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I Agree 10 of 10 and bring tissue
guidecca-26 November 2008
I am in agreement that the story is implausible but utterly moving. I sit here and think about Captain's Courageous and would place it in the same category. It will make you cry. What a beautiful story of love and sacrifice. Children are always worth saving and any sacrifice for them is moving. I do not know why there is a minimum number of lines to submit a review of movies on IMDb. That is a change from the original rules. I'm not a film critic and barely find time to write this review. I was very happy to receive help from IMDb in identifying the movie and I am surprised that it was filmed so recently. It deserves 83 ranking and I hope it remains there so that others will get a chance to discover it.
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A pleasant surprise!
livar18 December 2002
Didn't really think that much about what to expect of this movie and expected a sort of "happy happy comedy" where life's a dance on flowers. But a positive surprise the film appeared to have deeper tones, the movie is set in Italy right before and during WW2. The main-person is a jew and that causes bad things to happen. But in spite of everything that happens Guido keeps his spirit up to the last and shows a wonderful and humorous perspective of life. A must see!

Notice how everything in the movie has a purpose. Every little thing that happens will serve a purpose later on in the movie. For example the weird habit of swapping hats with this other person at any possible occasion will serve its purpose later on in the film :) I liked this intelligent and highly entertaining way of bonding the story together. This and many many other things makes this film well worthwhile watching. Go see it and make up your own meaning!
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Schlock at its lowest level
mullymt-112 May 2000
I saw this movie soon after its American release, before the massive wave of buzz set in. At the time, I remember thinking that America's intelligience level had to be much higher than the level this film speaks to. I was wrong. This movie might as well have been directed by Joel Schumacher (who, in my opinion is the worst director in Hollywood) Pure schlock. This movie is on the same level of Patch Adams: cheesy, brainless and horrible.

Everything in this film is weak: the script, the pacing, the cinematography, and especially the acting. Roberto Benigni winning an Oscar is the equivalent of Danielle Steel winning a Nobel Prize in literature. The only point of this movie is to make the viewer cry.

If you are interested in a foreign film that shows how the relationship between an doomed father and an unwitting child should be played, watch the Russian film Burnt by the Sun. This film is just poor.
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but this film is not
mheuermann30 January 2006
Admitively, I'm not a big fan of Benigni and I don't consider his kind of humour as even remotely funny, but what makes this exercise such a truly unbearable experience is that good old Roberto chooses the Holocaust of all things as a gloomy backdrop to make himself shine all the more.

Its always a big risk if the same person directs, writes and plays the lead and to my knowledge only Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Vincent Gallo and Woddy Allen can get away with it. But all of them have some kind of self-deprecating approach. A quality that is completely absent with Roberto Benigni. What makes it all the more annoying is, that most of the people fall for it, as was evident in the cinema when I watched the film.

So in order to make himself look good he writes a script that places himself in the middle of some very mean and nasty Nazis. Thankfully he doesn't need to bother with characters as everyone knows that the Nazis are are the epitome of evil anyway. But portraying himself as the tireless adversary of the oppressors isn't quite enough for Benigni. In order to hammer it home to the everyone that he is the good guy, he puts himself in charge of a cute little child, that he has to protect from the trauma of concentration camps. Sometimes this is quite easily done. As the two of them wander aimlessly around the grounds, they happen to come across a huge pile of bodies. We haven't realized this at first cause there was some very spooky fog floating around. Protectively Benini shields the boy's eyes from the unappetizing sight while the music reaches a dramatic crescendo. What a nice guy. This might seem like nitpicking to you but as they were apparently deported to a labour camp and not to an extermination camp, they wouldn't have come across such a sight. But any historic accuracy is secondary to Benigni as long as something gives him another opportunity to make out what a emphatic, altruistic and considerate character he is. Its so unsubtly done, it has to insult anyone with a bit of intelligence.

I know, coming up with a comedy set in the Third Reich is always a tricky business but Lubitsch and Chaplin have proved that it can be done. Benigni though fails on all fronts. Some scenes are shamelessly nicked from 'the Great Dictator', in another some raw eggs are placed in a hat and you think that this is so corny and predictable and he can't possible have the villain don the hat (ha ha) and yet he does, and even worse, the audience around me behaved as if this was the funniest thing they'd ever seen. Well, if this is your kind of humour you're in for a real treat.
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The most overrated movie of the 90's
claudemercure7 November 2001
Despite its unusual approach (it's a holocaust comedy) this is at heart a fatally self-conscious, shamelessly lowest-common-denominator film with the subtlety of a brick to the head. When he isn't straining to act 'lovable' (actually coming off as obnoxious), Benigni keeps busy pushing every easy emotional button he can think of. But why should we care? His romance is never made believable, and the horror of the holocaust is never made real, because the way he edgelessly films it, we might as well be watching a film set in a medium-security prison. (The movie numbers a grand total of one effective dramatic moment, which is Benigni's artfully handled last scene.)

The lowest point in recent Academy Awards history is when Roberto Benigni won best actor for this film (he was up against Nick Nolte, Ian McKellen, Edward Norton and Tom Hanks, all in career-best performances, for god's sake!).

If you feel such a strong need to be manipulated that you don't care that the guy doing the manipulating is a shallow egotist, then this movie will suit you just fine.
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A lie for the naive and ignorant.
dgmyers8 June 1999
Only the naive and ignorant will find this film charming. Those who know anything about the Holocaust will see it for what it is--a lie that desecrates the memory of six million dead.

Under the Nazis, six million Jews died for no other reason than that they were Jewish. This invests the fact of their Jewishness with transcendent importance. In "Life Is Beautiful," however, Roberto Benigni's character Guido is Jewish only because the film announces that he is. His Jewishness has no other significance; it is not the affirmation of anything; it is a manipulative plot device. Guido's goodness is not attributed to his being Jewish--that is something to be dispensed with quickly, as if it were an embarrassment.

And so Benigni ends up treating the Jews very little differently than the Nazis. For one thing, he shamefully misrepresents the reality of the Nazis' Konzentrationlagers. A Jew would have been murdered for any ONE of the acts of defiance that Guido gets away with. Benigni's film turns the real danger and real violence and real death of the Holocaust into something like a Roadrunner cartoon in which Wile E. Coyote never really suffers or dies. But this is a lie: under the Nazis, the Jews suffered and died. They did not get away with carefree acts of defiance.

What is more, the mass of Jews in the camp in which Guido and his son are imprisoned are treated as nothing more than the faceless and nameless background to Benigni's disgusting clowning. They are given no more individuation--no more personhood and uniqueness--than they were by the Nazis themselves.

"Life Is Beautiful" is an obscene exploitation of enormity and sorrow.
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A Shining Example of Cinematic Bull****
gogo_97417 December 2000
How far will Benigni go for a few laughs and tears? Very, VERY far. Here, after all, is a film which portrays concentration camps as loosely structured playgrounds, Nazis as inept buffoons, and its hero as a lovable trickster, able to come and go as he pleases. It's "Hogan's Heroes" with a violin ending. But let's be fair. It's not the historical inaccuracies alone which make this movie such a shining example of cinematic bull****. Credit must also be given to its shameless sentimentality, bad jokes, shoddy plot, and the flagrant narcissism of its "creators".

And to my fellow reviewers who maintain that this is not a film about the Holocaust but rather the importance of familial love, I should like to say two things: One, you're confusing the film's theme with its subject, and two, if Benigni didn't want to make a movie about the Holocaust then perhaps he shouldn't have SITUATED HIS STORY IN A NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMP!!
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How the reviews for this came in as they did, I can't imagine. I think maybe people like to hear themselves say aloud that they loved a movie with subtitles.
brennanm9 August 1999
This movie is possibly the most wretched abomination I've ever been forced to endure. Never was I amused, stimulated, impassioned, engrossed, or even interested. Divided into two independent halves (which in and of itself isn't necessarily bad), it proceeds to bore and insult the unfortunate viewer with two seperate stories. The first of these unlikely tales involved a horribly contrived and utterly loathsome tale of a man and a woman falling in love. Basically, he drags her around the city to various locations where he knows something specific will happen, such as a man tossing a set of keys down from a second story window to a locked-out friend, and she falls in love with him. Whoopee. Nothing is done here that hasn't been done a thousand times over in better movies. The second half amazingly and deftly trumps even the first's diabolical drabness by continuing its utter bore-fest, but then contributing what may be the most insulting, degrading, and unholy storyline ever to grace (or in this case, curse) the screen. The filmmakers evidently thought it appropriate and amusing to have a good chuckle at the expense of all of those sustained and killed in Nazi concentration camps, as the one in this film is depicted as more of an expensive resort than a death camp. Of course, there were token scenes that showed a death or two, but never was the horror ever at the focus of the story. (This may have worked if the picture had anything else going for it, such as a storyline, but sadly such amenities are absent from this stinker.) I am shocked at the poorness of this movie, and I walked out asking myself something that years of exposure to the supposed decay of society, American pop culture, had never caused me to wonder: "Is nothing sacred anymore?"
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