‘Life is indeed beautiful’, beautifully amazing, painfully true and truly eternal.
One of my all time favourite movies out there is ‘La vita e bella’. If you never heard of it, I dare to say, you’ve been blind to a masterpiece of the cinema.
Life will never look the same once you’ve seen it; for me it was a stepping stone into a new era, a new way of waking up in the morning and breathing the air… if once you’ve felt love, love will be the bubble you live in, if you ever felt pain, pain will shatter through your existence like a river cuts through rocks. Love and pain will drive one’s life and when you thought there’s nothing else, you will find yourself smiling when tears should be falling.
Director: Roberto Benigni
Writers: Roberto Benigni, Vincezo Cerami
Lead actors: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini
1997 Drama, Comedy, Romance
“This is a simple story, but not an easy one to tell…like a fable, there is sorrow and like a fable, it is full of wonder and happiness.”
If at any time we look at this story as a fantasy, it is perhaps because facing the brutal reality of history is unbearable.
The film has two parts; one is a sweet love story surrounded by pure comedy as Guido a Jewish hotel waiter meets Dora, a gentile soul who falls in love with him through a series of funny carefully planned encounters.
The second part of the movie reflects the many ways we try to cope with the unexpected but most importantly how we always try to protect whom we love the most. After several years we find out the couple’s life changed, they have a 5-year-old son, Joshua and Guido owns a book store. The year is 1945, when all the Jews are rounded by the Fascists and shipped by rail to a death camp. Everything happens on Joshua’s 5th birthday, when they are taken; Guido constructs an amazing fiction to protect his son from reality. Their journey becomes a game and the winner’s prize will be a real tank.
One of my favourite scenes that made me smile with tears in my eyes is when Guido acts as the translator for a German captain who is giving instructions to the inmates, freely setting the game’s rules in italian designed to quiet and excite his son.
As the story reveals itself to us, we realise that an undiscovered lie becomes the truth and the promised prize will come with a huge sacrifice.
If we would take one thing away from watching ‘Life is beautiful’ is that a child’s innocence is worth protecting.
PS. Watch it with an open mind and don’t be afraid to smile through the tears.