Life is Beautiful t is probably the most internationally acclaimed and beloved Italian film. The script, the soundtrack and the actors’ interpretations make it an unforgettable film that can make us laugh and cry and convey an infinite amount of emotion. In short, it’s a masterpiece of film, full of messages, directed by Roberto Benigni in 1997.
This film is inspired by the book Alla fine ho sconfitto Hitler (Finally I Beat Hitler) by Rubino Romeo Salmoni, a survivor from Auschwitz, who recounts his experience . The film is about the story of Guido Orefice, a Jewish-Italian boy who moves to Arezzo to work at his uncle’s hotel. He runs into Dora, a teacher from a wealthy family, close to the fascist regime. Guido does everything to overcome Dora. He always shows up unexpectedly and tries to surprise her in every possible way.
-Guido, life is beautiful
Finally he wins her and they have a son, Giosue. Life seems to favor Guido. But World War II causes his entire life to fall apart, and he ends up in a concentration camp.
Life is beautiful t leads us to an Italy immersed in fascism and leads us to the horrors of the concentration camps. It does it another way . It presents the story as a kind of narrative with a bittersweet ending.
“This is a simple story, but not easy to tell. Like a fable there is sorrow,
and like a fable it is full of wonder and happiness ”.
-Giosue, life is beautiful-
Life is beautiful, from the comedy to the tragic
Life is beautiful begins in a cheerful, humorous and fun tone. Because of the first scenes, we can hardly guess that we are seeing a drama, even if we see the beginning of fascism in Italy from the beginning.
The comedy in Life is Beautiful is in the small details, in the small moments that lead to comedy. However, it is really interesting how an unpleasant and eerie situation manages to make us smile.
The race manifesto was published in 1938, due to the fascist ideology that prevailed at the time. It was a text signed by Italian scientists that endorsed the existence of human races. These races were divided into subordinate and superior races, where the Aryans were, of course, the superior race. A pure Italian breed. These ideas, along with the fascist racial laws, were taught in schools, and the children would therefore avoid spending time with the Jews, so as not to diminish their “purity.”
Is it possible for a Jew to make fun of these racial laws? Is it possible for a Jew to dismantle a completely fascist theory in front of a group of children? Yes, that is, at least in life is beautiful.
Dismantling racist ideology
Guido pretends to be an inspector from the ministry who is to talk to the children about the race manifesto. In fact, he wants to get Dora’s attention, but this scene just shows that we’re all the same.
Guido says his navel is an authentic Italian navel, his ears the same, etc. Children, when they see this, imitate him and laugh . Guido manages to remove the differences that the manifesto appeals to, as he is Jewish and does not present any physical trait that distinguishes him from the “purely Aryan” Italian children.
This scene gives, without a doubt, a smile to all of us. But it’s a bittersweet smile if we consider the true meaning of those words from a gentleman from the ministry talking about human races.
Guido makes fun of all these beliefs and dismantles all racist ideologies with witty and funny comments. He is a character we love from the beginning. He is carefree, very creative and his struggle to overcome Dora fascinates us. Nothing stops him, not even fascism.
“Last night I dreamed of you all night! We went to the cinema. You wore the pink suit on… “
-Guido, life is beautiful
Guido and his family are torn apart by the Holocaust. Guido is sent with his son and uncle to a concentration camp. Dora, who is Italian and not Jewish, does not have to leave, but decides to go voluntarily, to try to be with her family.
From this moment on, the film takes a radical turn. The cheerful and carefree tone goes towards tragedy. But Guido does not lose his smile for a moment. He always tries to fight for his survival and his family and begins to invent a story to keep little Giosue from suffering.
Guido’s struggle and sacrifice
A phrase, a belief, or an idea can make a person’s world completely changed. It can transform our way of looking at life, and make everything make sense. Ferruccio, one of Guido’s friends, tells him at the beginning of the film that according to Schopenhauer “… with willpower you can do anything” . This sentence will mark Guido forever. At first he will use it comically, but over time it will become his lifestyle.
Guido has a purpose. He wants to survive, but first and foremost he wants his son to survive. He tries to keep his son from losing his smile, from being happy even in hell, he will fight to the end. He sacrifices his own safety so that his son does not see the horrors of the concentration camp. He will do anything to find Dora and send her signals so she knows they are still alive.
Guido is an example of fighting and overcoming adversity. Using his imagination and will, he creates a false reality so that his child is not aware of what they are going through. He makes his child believe that everything is a game, that they are free and can go whenever they want. But if they persevere and manage to win a thousand points, they will get their reward. Giosue has always dreamed of getting a real tank, so Guido will make him believe that is the price. He creates a will to live in Giosue.
To accept and confront adversity
Guido does not know if they will survive. He does not know how long they will stay in the concentration camp. But his zeal for survival is stronger than any uncertainty. Do not let your child see you devastated, sad or without the desire to live . Life is beautiful t shows us that happiness is sometimes in our way of looking at life, in accepting and confronting adversity.
Despite the great genocide that took place in the concentration camps, there were also survivors who managed to be subjected to torture, starvation and injustice. An example of this is the psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, who, after surviving a concentration camp, published Man’s Search for Meaning. He talks about his experience in the book and adds a famous Nietzsche quote that can accurately sum up the plot of life is beautiful : “He who has a why to live for can carry almost any how”.
Life is beautiful is an example of overcoming. It makes us see the beauty in horror and freedom, even where there is no one to make us laugh and cry … Guido had a reason and a will to live and managed to create that feeling in his son. That way, despite the rawness of the film, we could say that his struggle and his efforts paid off.
“This is my story. This is the sacrifice my father made. This was his gift to me. ”
-Giosue, life is beautiful-