A gentle Jewish-Italian waiter, Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni), meets Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), a pretty schoolteacher, and wins her over with his charm and humor. Eventually they marry and have a son, Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini). Their happiness is abruptly halted, however, when Guido and Giosue are separated from Dora and taken to a concentration camp. Determined to shelter his son from the horrors of his surroundings, Guido convinces Giosue that their time in the camp is merely a game.
Release date: October 23, 1998
Featured song: La vita è bella
Awards: Academy Award for Best Actor
I have seen this film over five times now, and yet it remains in the list of my top ten favorite films. This film follows Guido, a Jewish Italian with a very whimsical and carefree attitude towards life. I like to consider this film being split into two acts- the first act follows Guido winning the girl and growing a family together and the second act follows Guido’s family in a Nazi concentration camp.
My favorite thing about this film is that the audience watches it through the eyes of Guido’s son in a way. Throughout their stay at the concentration camp, Guido makes it his goal to shield his son from the surrounding horrors. Therefore, Guido tells his son Joshua that it is all a game to win points, and that the first person to reach 1,000 points receives an actual tank. This allows Joshua to hold on to his childhood innocence, which is the strongest gift his father could give him.
Because of this, the audience is spared from seeing an excessive amount of the horrors going on in the camp. However, a lot of the horrors are suggested and as an audience member who knows the history of WWII and concentration camps, it’s easy to be aware of what is really going on. Even though the son remains clueless to the reality of his situation.
This is such a wholesome and incredible film that will truly tug at your heartstrings. Watching the love Guido shows to his wife and son is inspirational and moving to watch. The only negative thing I have to say about this film is that it starts off a little slow. However, once you get past the first twenty minutes it’s worth it. I love that this film takes on a different spin on telling a story about the Holocaust, and unlike most movies centered on concentration camps, it isn’t extremely gut wrenching to watch.
5 out of 5
If you have not seen this film, I highly suggest finding it and giving it a watch. This is the film that will leave a positive impact on you forever.
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