Life Is Beautiful
|Life Is Beautiful|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roberto Benigni|
|Produced by||Gianluigi Braschi
|Written by||Roberto Benigni
|Music by||Nicola Piovani|
|Cinematography||Tonino Delli Colli|
|Editing by||Simona Paggi|
|Studio||Cecchi Gori Group|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Running time||116 minutes|
|Language||Italian, German, English|
Life Is Beautiful (Italian: La vita è bella) is a 1997 Italian comedy-drama film directed by and starring Roberto Benigni. Benigni plays Guido Orefice, a Jewish Italian book shop owner, who must employ his fertile imagination to shield his son from the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp. Part of the film came from Benigni's own family history; before Roberto's birth, his father had survived three years of internment at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The film was a critical and financial success, winning Benigni the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 71st Academy Awards as well as the Academy Award for Best Original Dramatic Score and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
In Italy in 1939, Guido Orefice (Benigni) is a funny and charismatic young Jewish man looking for work in a city. He falls in love with a local school teacher, Dora (portrayed by Benigni's actual wife Nicoletta Braschi), who is to be engaged to a rich but arrogant civil servant. Guido engineers further meetings with her, seizing on coincidental incidents to declare his affection for her, and finally wins her over. He steals her from her engagement party on a horse, humiliating her fiance and mother. Soon they are married and have a son, Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini).
Through the first part, the movie depicts the changing political climate in Italy: Guido frequently imitates members of the National Fascist Party, skewering their racist logic and pseudoscientific reasoning (at one point, jumping onto a table to demonstrate his "perfect Aryan bellybutton"). However, the growing Fascist wave is also evident: the horse Guido steals Dora away on has been painted green and covered in antisemitic insults.
Later in World War II, after Dora and her mother (Marisa Paredes) are reconciled, Guido, his Uncle Eliseo and Joshua are seized on Joshua's birthday, forced onto a train and taken to a concentration camp. Despite being a non-Jew, Dora demands to be on the same train to join her family. In the camp, Guido hides their true situation from his son, convincing him that the camp is a complicated game in which Giosue must perform the tasks Guido gives him, earning him points; the first team to reach one thousand points will win a tank. He tells him that if he cries, complains that he wants his mother, or says that he is hungry, he will lose points, while quiet boys who hide from the camp guards earn extra points.
Guido uses this game to explain features of the concentration camp that would otherwise be scary for a young child: the guards are mean only because they want the tank for themselves; the dwindling numbers of children (who are being killed by the camp guards) are only hiding in order to score more points than Giosue so they can win the game. He puts off Giosue's requests to end the game and return home by convincing him that they are in the lead for the tank, and need only wait a short while before they can return home with their tank. Despite being surrounded by the misery, sickness, and death at the camp, Giosue does not question this fiction because of his father's convincing performance and his own innocence.
Guido maintains this story right until the end when, in the chaos of shutting down the camp as the Americans approach, he tells his son to stay in a sweatbox until everybody has left, this being the final competition before the tank is his. Guido tries to find Dora, but is caught by a soldier. As he is marched off to be executed, he maintains the fiction of the game by deliberately marching in an exaggerated goose-step as he passes Giosue's hiding place.
The next morning, Giosue emerges from the sweatbox as the camp is occupied by an American armored division; he thinks he has won the game. The soldiers let him ride in the tank until, later that day, he sees Dora in the crowd of people streaming home from the camp. In the film, Giosue is a young boy; however, both the beginning and ending of the film are narrated by an older Giosue recalling his father's story of sacrifice for his family.
Life is Beautiful was shown at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival, and went on to win the Grand Prix. At the 71st Academy Awards, the film won awards for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score, and Best Foreign Language Film, with Benigni winning Best Actor for his role. The film also received Academy Award nominations for Directing, Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture.
Life is Beautiful became commercially successful. After its release on October 23, 1998, the film went on to gross $57.24 million in North America, and $171.60 million internationally, with a worldwide gross of $229,163,264.
The film also received mostly positive reviews, with the movie aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a "Fresh" 80% rating. Despite its acclaim, actor-director Roberto Benigni received criticism for its comedic elements incorporated into the backdrop of the Holocaust. Roger Ebert gave the film 3 1/2 stars, stating, "At Cannes, it offended some left-wing critics with its use of humor in connection with the Holocaust. What may be most offensive to both wings is its sidestepping of politics in favor of simple human ingenuity. The film finds the right notes to negotiate its delicate subject matter." The film has a rating of 8.5/10 on the Internet Movie Database and is currently ranked as the 51st greatest film of all time on IMDb's Top 250 chart.
See also 
- Positive psychology
- The Day the Clown Cried (1972), an unreleased film by Jerry Lewis
- Train of Life (1998), by Radu Mihaileanu
- Hotel Lux (2011), a tragicomedy by Leander Haußmann
- Joseph Schleifstein, real-life child survivor of Buchenwald
- Stefan Jerzy Zweig, real-life child survivor of Buchenwald
Further reading 
- Grace Russo Bullaro, Beyond "Life is Beautiful": comedy and tragedy in the cinema of Roberto Benigni, Troubador Publishing Ltd, 2005, ISBN 1-904744-83-4 / ISBN 978-1-904744-83-2
- Box Office Information for Life Is Beautiful. The Wrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013
- Box Office Information for Life Is Beautiful. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 4, 2013
- "Festival de Cannes: Life Is Beautiful". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
- Life is Beautiful The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Retrieved 2010-12-28
- Life Is Beautiful Box Office Mojo Retrieved 2010-12-28
- Life is Beautiful Rotten Tomatoes Retrieved 2010-12-28
- "Ebert". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-05-06.
- "IMDb". Retrieved 2012-08-17.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Life Is Beautiful|
- Official website
- Life Is Beautiful at the Internet Movie Database
- Life Is Beautiful at AllRovi
- Life Is Beautiful at Box Office Mojo
- Life Is Beautiful at Metacritic
- Life is Beautiful at the Arts & Faith Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films list
-  rogerebbert review
|Awards and achievements|
The Sweet Hereafter
|Grand Prix, Cannes