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In World War II Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia, a childless couple, Josef and Marie Cizek, can only watch while the Jewish family of their employers, the Wieners, are first removed from their own home to a spare room in their house by the Nazis, then deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp. Years later, young David Wiener, the sole surviving member of that family has managed to escape and make it to the Cizeks. Although fully aware of the extreme danger of harboring a Jew in the Third Reich, the Cizek's can not permit themselves to leave David to certain death and agree to hide him. However, this decision leads to terrible danger of discovery by the Nazis and especially their friend and Nazi collaborator, Horst Prohazka, who is attracted to Marie. With desperate cleverness and luck, the Cizeks struggle to keep the secret, even when Horst begins to suspect. In doing so, they find themselves making unorthodox choices and learning about the true nature of the people around them.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
'Life Is Beautiful' is often called a great 'holocaust comedy', but it pales in comparison to this. Life Is Beautiful awkwardly shifts between scenes that are supposed to be funny, and scenes that are supposed to be meaningful or sad or intense, as if Benigni was making a joke, then apologizing for it, then apologizing for being too serious, and making a joke again, and so on. This movie plays it straight pretty much, and everything just works. Particularly the scene with the hands in the bed, and the scene where Josef is taught how to make Nazi-like facial expressions are hilarious. The characterizations are very well done, particularly Horst, the horny scumbag of a Nazi who you get to like in the end. The movie is sometimes surreal. In many scenes the images are very jumpy and distorted, but that shows us what the characters are going through, effectively. The ending is maybe one of the greatest movie endings of all time. It's very surreal, and you can interpret it in many ways. Its abstraction is what helps to make it powerful. When many people create art that has to do with the holocaust, they often go out of their way just to show us that they are making a statement about how horrible the holocaust is, as if theyre afraid that we won't think that otherwise. Even the classic Schindler's List does that, I think. But this movie is a different kind of holocaust movie. It doesn't try hard to show us that the holocaust was bad, but it doesn't neglect how serious the holocaust was, either. The only complains I have about this movie is that it is often slow, and a little confusing at the beginning. It's not a completely perfect movie, but it's definitely a masterpiece of holocaust movies. All the schools that show kids Life Is Beautiful should definitely switch to this.
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