Film – La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful)

Yes this does contain spoilers.

So I have just recovered (from crying my eyes out) and felt the need to let out more emotions – hence this post.

I’ll just give a brief “summary” of the film (but you really need to watch this masterpiece if you haven’t already)

When the movie beginnings it has this charming comic vibe. It starts of with Guido (played by the genius Roberto Benigni) an optimistic, impulsive man meeting a “princess” who falls into his arms. Guido takes any chance he can get to see her – often in impromptu crazy scenarios. His character is very care free, happy and seems to appreciate his life (even through tragic events). Eventually him and Dora (his princess) end up together.

Flash forward a couple of years and they are married and have a beautiful son Joshua. Sadly, it is now 1945ish and Guido and his son are Jewish. On Joshua’s birthday they are abruptly taken away to a Concentration Camp. Not wanting to traumatize his son Guido decides to use is skill of improvising to give his son hope. He tells his son they are about to enter a game, and if they earn 1,000 points they will win a real life tank. The film gets (obviously) a lot less comical and a lot more intense despite Guido’s optimistic barely faulting. At one point to keep up the game ruse he bravely pretends to speak German and translate’s what a guard is saying and explains the “rules of the game” – it is heart warming but also heart breaking as fuck. Throughout their time there Guido does everything in his power to bring happiness to his son and his wife ( as they are separated he finds ways of sending her messages they are alive).

Earlier in the film he is a waiter and befriends a doctor who happens to come into the camp (on the Nazi side) the doctor invites Guido to be a waiter on a special evening for the Nazis. Guido (and myself) assume the doctor is going to help him – he even mentions to his son they may leave “the game” early – but the Doctor turns out to be a ignorant cunt. In a tragically powerful scene, the Doctor begs Guido to help him solve a riddle – and you see for one of the first times Guido lose faith as he realizes the Doctor isn’t going to help him.  I have to mention another powerful scene that I can’t get out of my head because it is that powerful; Guido is walking back from waiting at the dinner, his son falling asleep in his arms, after just losing faith because of the doctor, and still manages to try focus on the positive whilst he is talking to his son about how it may all just be a dream and he may wake up with his wife the next day in their home. He then walks forward through the mist and in front of him is a enormous pile of dead bodies. Guido is silently horrified and then slowly backs off back into the mist to find his “dorm”.

On their last night, as havoc is breaking lose, Guido tells his son they are in the lead but Joshua needs to hide for one last night and takes him to a secure hiding place. When Joshua is safe Guido tries to find his wife. He puts a jersey over his head to disguise himself onto the woman side. He is then caught and a solider takes him away. They pass by where his son is hiding, and although he knows he is on the way to get shot, he makes eyes contact with his son for the last time, winks, smiles and walks away playfully as if it is all a game. Then he gets shot. In the morning the Joshua comes out of hiding and sees a big tank coming up and thinks he is won and is eventually reunited with his mother.

I haven’t cried so hard in a movie in years. I honestly did not see it coming. I was convinced that Guido would survive and they would all be reunited and have a happy ending. It was painful to watch but such an amazing film.

The title “Life is Beautiful” is very misleading yet accurately spot on. Roberto said that the title comes from a quote by Leon Trotsky, who when he was about to be killed saw his wife in the garden and wrote “that in spite of everything, life is Beautiful”.

And I think this film teaches us that. Have hope and be optimistic because life is beautiful in spite of tragedy. Joshua got through one of the most tragic situations happy because of his amazing courageous father.

The director and writer (I told you Roberto Benigini was a genius) had the great mix between being light hearted and intense as fuck. It is a film that will stick with you. It even won 3 Oscars which is amazing.

5/5 Stars for this film.

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