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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXTRAORDINARY...BOTH WONDROUSLY JOYOUS AND INFINITELY SAD...
This is one of the best and most creative films ever made. Totally inventive in concept, the story revolves around an exuberant and romantic Italian man named Guido, who also happens to be Jewish. He sweeps the woman of his dreams,his "Principessa", off her feet. They marry and have an adorable little boy whom they dearly love. Unfortunately, this all happens during World...
Published on July 24 2006 by Lawyeraau

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Benigni buoyed by brilliant cast, but still annoying.
La Vita e Bella (Roberto Benigni, 1997)
Roberto Benigni finally gets out from under the blanket that is Jim Jarmusch (Benigni and Jarmusch teamed for such cult classics as Down by Law and Night on Earth) in America. It should have been obvious for anyone who followed both men that Jarmusch's humor is of a decidedly different sweep than is Benigni's. After all,...
Published on May 5 2003 by Robert Beveridge


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXTRAORDINARY...BOTH WONDROUSLY JOYOUS AND INFINITELY SAD..., July 24 2006
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Life Is Beautiful (DVD)
This is one of the best and most creative films ever made. Totally inventive in concept, the story revolves around an exuberant and romantic Italian man named Guido, who also happens to be Jewish. He sweeps the woman of his dreams,his "Principessa", off her feet. They marry and have an adorable little boy whom they dearly love. Unfortunately, this all happens during World War II in fascist Italy.

Ultimately, Guido and their son are whisked away to a concentration/work camp on their young son's birthday. Meanwhile, his wife and the boy's mother, coming home and expecting to find a birthday celebration in progress, discovers, instead, that the inevitable has occurred. She tracks them down to the train that is taking prisoners to a work camp and, after confirming that they are on board, insists upon boarding the train herself, so that she may remain close to them. They see her board the train and know that she is with them.

In order to get his son through this horror as best he can, Guido tells his son that they are involved in a real life game to win a tank, knowing that the boy had wanted a toy tank for his birthday. Talk about a reality survival game! In any case, his son is young enough to fall for it and gets with the program as only the very young can. What follows is a series of inventive scenarios which tells the viewer of the lengths that the father goes in order to keep his son quiet, obedient, entertained, and safe from harm. All along, the father has his son believing in the game and playing to win, to the point that the boy believes that they are actually in first place to win the tank.

While this may sound like an odd venue in which to find oneself laughing, that is exactly what the viewer does. At the same time, the film is achingly poignant, and the end is infinitely sad. Guido is played to perfection by comedic star and filmmaker Roberto Benigni, who also directed this masterpiece. His on screen wife and comedic foil is played by his real life main squeeze, Nicoletta Braschi. The son is played with wondrous innocence by the totally adorable Giorgio Cantarini. This is an award caliber film that saw Benigni deservedly capture Oscars for Best Actor and Best Foreign Language Film.

All in all, this film will leave the viewer both laughing and crying. It is simply a great movie. Bravo!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars my comments on "Life Is Beautiful", July 2 2004
This review is from: Life is Beautiful (Widescreen) (DVD)
When I watched Life Is Beautiful I wasn't at all impressed - at 1st I wasn't. Not until the scene where Guido is forced to pretend to be a fascist leader indoctrinating children at the school (where the woman he loves is teacher). My stomach turned in this scene. And the whole meaning of the movie came to me like an avalanche. Guido's pretending symbolized many things. That when people are put in inhumane situations they will be forced to find ways to "work around" the situation in order to survive (for instance...I'm sure that the slaves that built the pyramids laughed & joked about their inhumane situation & about the ones in power in order to make life bearable...forced to be a slave but also forced to find a way to make life more humane when a humane life simply should be a given). Though he thought he was being clever in speaking in the way he thought the leader of the fascist movement would speak he unwittingly hit the nail on the head - Guido used the same words the real fascist leader would use but from a different point-of-view. Though Guido was innocent of the far-reaching implications of fascism he knew, on some level, what the policies were (enough to be able to pretend to be the leader that was suppose to be there instead). His playful speech is in actuality the same speech the leader would make but from different angles: Guido's own angle is one of joking disbelief regarding the philosophies of facism; the fascist leader (when he arrives) would say exactly the same words but said in total & unwavering belief in the fascist's philosophy. If you can imagine the real fascist leader in that classroom making that speech instead of Guido you'll see what I see.
Guido using the horse that was painted green as a symbol against Jews is something we all do - we joke & laugh off insane political philosophies but we can only do that for so long because they simply can gain power & control that will turn everyone's life upside down (as shown in this movie). I'm sure, in that time, there were people brave enough to use facist symbols as a joke & to ridicule facist beliefs. Benigni showed that brilliantly in that scene.
This movie also revealed that parents basically have no idea what their children are being taught (well back then I think that was the case). Benigni included that scene for that reason - children were being taught facism. His playful pursuit of his love to the school allowed that subtle implication to be included in the movie without hitting everyone over the head with that fact. The teachers standing meekly by while Guido made his speech symbolized how people can really be oblivious to a dangerous philosophy. I'm sure most people couldn't imagine how something like facism could nearly destroy the world. That's what the teachers symbolized to me.
The whole beginning of the movie hit me like a ton of rocks after the schoolroom scene (this explains the beginning of the movie). That life is made up with many chances & sometimes coincidences & even unbearable situations all at once. Though chance & coincidences can bring joy in our lives (Guido meeting the "princess" all by chance for the very 1st time) chance can bring a lot of misery too (facism growing & becoming extremely powerful by strokes of chances & coincidences). That with enough "chances" & "coincidences" situations (good or bad) will grow & take hold (Guido constantly running into the schoolteacher by coincidences & chance allowed their love to grow...I think he was telling us that is how facism grew which is all by chances & coincidences...enough of these 2 things & you may have something dangerous OR something wonderful depending on the situation).
On many levels Benigni showed how something like facism can grow out of control in the real world. The beginning of the movie people live their lives as they see fit (Guido going where the wind blows in trying to win the teacher's heart). Then a new philosophy seeps over the horizon but no one really pays attention (the schoolroom scene...Guido joked but was oblivious to the implications that facism had if it ever had real power & many followers). Some people will make political satire out of this new idea (Guido on the green horse). If the new philosophy gains power it will benefit a person's life or interfere with their life depending on who you are OR who they say you are (Guido's store failing because of the new policies and because the policies doomed him & his family). And eventually total control over everyone's life & sometimes to the extreme in which it's decided who lives & who dies (the concentration camps).
I was rather startled by the very simple ending with Joshua being reunited with his mother. All I can say is that Benigni understands human nature very well - people will continue to live their lives & history will repeat itself. He doesn't show an end to facism but possibly the beginning of more if people don't try to come out of their shells & try to make a difference. A simple ending yet a powerful statement. Perhaps he also wanted to say that some people remained unchanged by tragedy because most people just want to live no matter what happened in the past or what may happen in the future. It seems that he wanted to show that though there are some things that our beyond our control happiness & love are never beyond our control.
I won't touch on the heart-wrenching scenes of the concentration camp. I wanted to reveal all the other parts that have been missed (or maybe they have not been missed...I'm just guessing here) From what I've read just about everyone has criticized the beginning of the movie which was in fact a reality check - things can creep into your life without being noticed until it's too late. And that's what happened in the beginning of the movie - facism showed up here & there in different scenes but always in a subtle & an unthreatening way like in real life. I'm sure, at the time, most people didn't feel facism was a threat (political parties & philosophies live & die time all the time). The most horrific fact is that no one really knows what are the real intentions of this type of philosophy until they actually have power.
Bravo Benigni. Your movie is pure genius. And the most humane movie I've ever seen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars La Vita A Bella - A Magnificent Triumph, June 27 2004
By 
This review is from: Life is Beautiful (Widescreen) (DVD)
Roberto Benigni's "Life is Beautiful" is an outstanding movie. The movie combines comedy, romance and the Holocaust which could have backfired easily, but he pulls it off superbly. It won the hearts of people across the world. The story is one of an Italian Jewish waiter who bumps into an Italian woman and wins her heart. The movie can almost be broken into two parts, the first part full of mirth and the second part dark and depressing. A lot of people who have the DVDs refuse to see the second part (with good reason).
I asked a number of holocaust survivors how they felt about the movie. Most of the them found it beautiful, they realize that it is unrealistic but the fantasy in it moved them. Of course, there were some people who did not accept it as the scars in them were too deep. But such things are to be expected. However, if one watches the DVD extras and sees the effect in the Simon Wiesenthal center, one sees that this movie has an overall positive impact among a lot of the Holocaust survivors. As far as Steven Spielberg not liking it, well, he may be a gifted director, but he is not the sole authority on the Holocaust just because he has made one movie on it. His movie is ripped off from one of the most gifted writers, Thomas Keneally. When he comes up with a story with imagination, he can talk. I have read numerous books on the Holocaust and talked to survivors and understand that this is not reality. But, it still makes you appreciate the story without undermining the Holocaust in anyway whatsoever. That is the magic of the movie.
There are a number of special scenes in this movie. Particular among them are how he shields his son, Joshua from the Nazis Nuremberg laws - "We will not allow spiders and visigoths into our shop from tomorrow". Another is one where he goes to the school as the inspector and shows how the Italian Aryan bodies are superior to others. The other part where he convinces his son that he will not be made into soap in the camp.
I would urge everyone to see the movie and make their own judgement. This movie is a masterpiece. You can see it as a comedy, or as a serious movie that makes you think. I personally feel that as an imaginative story and acting, this movie is a product of genius. It won 2 oscars, best foreign film and best actor, I personally felt that it could have won best film as well that year. I could not believe that they gave it to "Shakespeare in Love". This movie will stand the test of time as it is a paradigm shift.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars La Vita A Bella - A Magnificent Triumph, June 28 2004
By 
This review is from: Life is Beautiful (Widescreen) (DVD)
Roberto Benigni's "Life is Beautiful" was probably the best movie of the year. This was a very unusual movie that I was not prepared for due to the content - a comedy based on the Holocaust. It had disaster written all over it, however when I went and watched it, I was stunned. The movie was about a Jewish waiter who woos a woman who is to marry another person. The movie can be broken into two parts, the first part which is humorous and romantic, the second part which is sad and dark. Here, he tries to protect his son from the horrors of the concentration camp. While the movie is obviously unrealistic, it has been beautifully put together.
I asked a number of my friends who have been through the Holocaust what they felt about the movie. Most of them loved the movie though they said that it was extremely unrealistic. Some of them could not stomach it, their scars were too deep. However, that is to be expected. I have read a number of books on the Holocaust and read the reaction to this movie from the Jerusalem Film Festival and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, most of it was overwhelmingly positive. I saw that Steven Spielberg did not like the movie, well he may be a gifted directed, but making one movie on the Holocaust does not make him an authority on the subject. His movie was ripped off from one of the most gifted authors of our times - Thomas Keneally. If you read the book, the movie will pale in comparison. This movie on the other hand, has creativity and fantasy that the ordinary movie.
One important thing about this movie is the way he mocks the fascists. In an opening sequence, he finds himself in a runaway car and sticks out an arm to protect himself -- only to confuse himself with the saluting Fascists who are also in town. He later goes to a school as an inspector to tell why Aryan race is supreme, "Where can you find someone more handsome than me?" he asks the children, leaping onto a desktop. "Look at the perfection of this ear!", this is outragiously hilarious. His interactions with his son are also wonderful. Most people who have seen the movie once refuse to see the second half of the movie, and rightly so. The father's gentle buffoonery and quick-witted fibs are perfectly suited to the child and also to the film's way of reducing the Holocaust to its essential absurdity. Mr. Benigni never trivializes his material, but he lies euphemistically to the boy with unspoken outrage. Why a "No Jews or Dogs Allowed" sign on a bakery window, the boy wonders? These are just matters of personal taste, his father tells him, explaining that a "No Spiders or Visigoths" sign would make just as much sense.
I personally felt that this movie must have been given the Best Picture instead of Shakespeare in Love. It is a paradigm shifting movie that will stand the test of time. For people who have not seen the movie, I urge you to try it. They rarely come better than this. Some people think that this is a Jerry Lewis slapstick, well they need to examine the content more. I have rarely seen a slapstick where people turn the movie off as they cannot stand it because it makes their heart wretch. This is a deeply thought provoking movie about parental love in an impossible situation. I grant you that it is fiction, but the fantasy is pure genius.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Testimony to the Human Spirit and to Love, June 10 2004
This review is from: Life is Beautiful (Widescreen) (DVD)
LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, the Grand Prix winner at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival, is one of my all time favorite films.
The first half of LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL is the story of Guido (Roberto Benigni), a hotel waiter in 1930s Italy and his courtship of the beautiful Dora (Nicoletta Braschi, Benigni's spouse in real life), with whom he falls immediately in love despite the fact that Dora all ready has a fiancé, the town clerk, a Fascist. Guido also become friends with the German doctor, Dr. Lessing (Horst Bucholz) who is staying at the hotel where Guido works, thus setting up an important subplot that will be resolved in the second half of the film.
Eventually, of course, Guido does manage to win Dora's heart and the two marry and have a son, Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini). Light and airy, this breezy, comedic first half, good as it is, is simply a set-up for the important second half as well as a device to let us get to know and love Guido and Dora, because knowing and loving them will be very important during the film's second half.
Fast forward five or six years. The year is now 1945 and Giosue is now five. World War II is entering its final days and the Fascist regime is rounding up all Italian Jews and sending them to death camps, and, as we learned late in this film's first half, Guido is Jewish.
One day, what Guido and Dora have feared actually happens and Guido and Giosue are taken into custody. Dora, being a gentile, is spared (technically, Giosue wasn't Jewish, either), however she insists on boarding the train and going to the camp rather than being parted from her beloved husband and son. The men are separated from the women but Guido, of course, knows exactly what's happening.
This second half of the film marks a shift from comedy to drama-with-comedic-overtones. In an attempt to shield Giosue from the horror around him, Guido pretends the entire thing is a complex game and, Guido is just the right age to buy it. The "game" Guido concocts is, by necessity, an elaborate one, with rules that change to fit the occasion. All of this is designed, of course, not only to allay Giosue's fears, but, if possible, to save his life.
There is comedy in the second half of LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, but it's heartbreaking comedy because we know Guido's chances of saving Giosue, let alone himself, are almost nil. And, we know Dora's fate is next to hopeless.
Roberto Benigni came under harsh and undeserved criticism for inserting comedy into a film with perhaps history's darkest hour, the Holocaust, as its backdrop. Benigni certainly wasn't mocking the Holocaust or underplaying it, as some have suggested. And, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL isn't a film about the Holocaust. I can't stress this point enough. It's a film about a father's love for his son and the fact that he'll use every weapon at his disposal to protect that son. The fact that comedy was Guido's only available weapon doesn't diminish this film's power and grace one iota. I think people who criticize this film just can't stand the fact the Benigni chose to focus on love and humanity rather than on politics. Personally, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL showed me the horrors of the Holocaust more closely than did the magnificent SCHINDLER'S LIST (and it is a masterpiece of the highest order) because of the close personal connection I felt with Guido and Dora. If one of the first rules of writing is to "make us care" (and it is), then Benigni certainly did that. I cared very much about Guido, Dora and Giosue and I think it would take a very hard-hearted person not to care.
What bothers me more about LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL is the fact that it seems like two separate films, the first a light romantic comedy and the second a tragedy with overtones of bittersweet comedy. I thought this film, great as it is, could have been seamless with only a few minor changes. Still, this minor criticism isn't nearly enough for me to lower my rating of LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL from five stars to four. This is certainly one of filmmaking's finest achievements and Roberto Benigni certainly deserved the award at Cannes and the praise this film has garnered. What he doesn't deserve is the criticism because, really, there is nothing at all to criticize here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life is truly Beautiful!!, May 10 2004
By 
Emmy M "billmcbill2" (Madison, WI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Life is Beautiful (Widescreen) (DVD)
Unlike most movies, Life Is Beautiful has managed to mix romance, comedy, and incredible sadness and coming out with an amazing film!
In the start, we meet a young Italian man named Gweedo. He and a friend move to the big city and move in with his uncle. On random occasions, Gweebo unexpectedly bumps in to Dora, a schoolteacher. This develops in to a budding romance, and they eventually get married ad have a son, Joshua. This is where the sadness begins. On Joshua's birthday, he and his father are taken away to a concentration camp, and his mother talks her way in to, not wanting to be separated from the rest of the family. Joshua, not knowing where they are going, becomes frightened, and Gweedo, in an attempt to calm him, Gweedo invents the story of 'The Game'. In The Game, whomever gets to 1000 points first wins a tank (Something that Joshua really wants). One of the best ways to get points is to remain hidden from the Nazis.
This was a very well made and thoughtful film, and in the end, you will truly believe that Life is Beautiful!
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5.0 out of 5 stars EXTRAORDINARY...BOTH WONDROUSLY JOYOUS AND INFINITELY SAD..., July 19 2006
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Life Is Beautiful (VHS Tape)
This is one of the best and most creative films ever made. Totally inventive in concept, the story revolves around an exuberant and romantic Italian man named Guido, who also happens to be Jewish. He sweeps the woman of his dreams,his "Principessa", off her feet. They marry and have an adorable little boy whom they dearly love. Unfortunately, this all happens during World War II in fascist Italy.

Ultimately, Guido and their son are whisked away to a concentration/work camp on their young son's birthday. Meanwhile, his wife and the boy's mother, coming home and expecting to find a birthday celebration in progress, discovers, instead, that the inevitable has occurred. She tracks them down to the train that is taking prisoners to a work camp and, after confirming that they are on board, insists upon boarding the train herself, so that she may remain close to them. They see her board the train and know that she is with them.

In order to get his son through this horror as best he can, Guido tells his son that they are involved in a real life game to win a tank, knowing that the boy had wanted a toy tank for his birthday. Talk about a reality survival game! In any case, his son is young enough to fall for it and gets with the program as only the very young can. What follows is a series of inventive scenarios which tells the viewer of the lengths that the father goes in order to keep his son quiet, obedient, entertained, and safe from harm. All along, the father has his son believing in the game and playing to win, to the point that the boy believes that they are actually in first place to win the tank.

While this may sound like an odd venue in which to find oneself laughing, that is exactly what the viewer does. At the same time, the film is achingly poignant, and the end is infinitely sad. Guido is played to perfection by comedic star and filmmaker Roberto Benigni, who also directed this masterpiece. His on screen wife and comedic foil is played by his real life main squeeze, Nicoletta Braschi. The son is played with wondrous innocence by the totally adorable Giorgio Cantarini. This is an award caliber film that saw Benigni deservedly capture Oscars for Best Actor and Best Foreign Language Film.

All in all, this film will leave the viewer both laughing and crying. It is simply a great movie. Bravo!
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5.0 out of 5 stars It blows most American Films into dust, April 5 2004
By 
Jeremy Bailey (Minneapolis, Minnesota United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Life is Beautiful (Widescreen) (DVD)
"Life is Beautiful" may be Italian, it doesn't follow the American film format, but that's what makes this GREAT.
"Life is Beautiful" is about a single man that keeps bumping into such a beautiful woman, whom he calls princess.
Through true romance, which is rare in American films, he wins her heart.
After they are married, which you dont even see them making out, they have a son name Joshua.
The father and son open up a bookstore and soon comes across signs on some stores "No Jews or Dogs allowed" "Jewish store", etc.
On Joshua's birthday, they are taken away on a train to the concentration camp. The wife finds out, and gets on before they go.
Meanwhile, throughout the whole movie, the father does everything he can to make his son happy.
In most american films, the father may try to keep the son happy as the son is scared of what might happen.
In this movie, the son is unaware for the most part that there is even any danger whatsoever, because his father said it's his birthday party.
Through hard times, the father continues to say they are in a game, and at 1,000 points, they win a real tank.
Not only does he keep his son happy, but at times that he can, he also does what he can to make his wife happy, who is on the other side of the camp.
Even to the end, when the father is shot down, it is quite decent, for you don't see him get shot down or blood gushing out. You just know he died.
And at the end, the tank drives on down. he believes that he did win, and the American gives him a ride until the son sees his mother.
It's a movie you MUST see.
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5.0 out of 5 stars La Vita è Bella, March 23 2004
This review is from: Life is Beautiful (Widescreen) (DVD)
This movie is by far the best movie I've ever seen! It's the only movie that has made me both laugh and cry. Anyone who says it is insensitve obviously wasn't paying attention. The movie has two distinct halves: the first is comical and is about how the main character Guido falls in love with a woman named Dora. The second half is dramatic. This is when they get married and have a son and get taken to a concentration camp. It is sad to see the devotion Guido has to his son and how much trouble he goes to to make sure his son doesn't get horrified by the truth of what is going on.
The DVD also deserves 5 Stars. The picture is very clear and presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio (if you don't know what I'm talking about, go to [...] The Italian audio quality is also very good. But whatever you do, do not watch this movie dubbed! The English does not fit at all with the Italian, and some lines have been re-written (horribly) to better coincide with the Italian. Also, the actors who did the dubbing seem to switch back and forth between really fake Italian accents and American accents. Trust me, after about 15 minutes you'll forget you're reading subtitles, you just read them automatically without thinking.
All in all, it is probably wise to first rent this movie. It seems most people either love it or hate hit.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Astounding, Jan. 25 2004
This review is from: Life is Beautiful (Widescreen) (DVD)
This movie has a very simple message and you read it in the title Life is Beautiful taking place during the holocaust in Italy no one could ever guess that this movie could be so touching and honest...Roberto Benigni who I believe won the Academy Award for his performance does the wonderful job in the role as a happy go lucky man who's whole life changes during the holocaust and it is up to Benigni to keep his family together...Another refreshing thing to see was the fact that this movie takes place in Italy during the holocaust and what is was really like for jewish families in Italy during the holocaust and very few history students know today that Italy was allies with Germany for a time...I love Benigni and enjoy watching his struggles and watching his love for his son and his wife. Why can't there be more guys like Benigi out there? The DVD features an English language track and of course English subtitles...I prefer the subtitles myself so I can get a real feel for the movie.I have been moved by this movie and you should rent or buy this movie for...by the end of this DVD you'll either be in tears or screaming life is beautiful!
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