Life is Beautiful a Robert Benigni Film
Uploaded by surfchick on Feb 20, 2005
Life is Beautiful
Roberto Benigni's moving film, Life is Beautiful, is a film that is set in a concentration camp and combines comedy with the seriousness of the extermination of the Jews in Nazi Germany. Benigni's task in making this film was significant, by taking a tremendous risk, making a "comedy about the holocaust," and the fact that he pulled it off so well, despite the expected controversy it has aroused in some, is downright miraculous.
The film's plot structure can be divided into two parts. The first half of Life is Beautiful is basically a slapstick comedy. It tells of two friends who move to "the city" (in Italy) and we follow Guido (played by Benigni) as he falls in love with a schoolteacher (played by Benigni's real wife, Nicoletta Braschi.) This takes place in pre World War II Italy, and the fascists are in rule. When he finally succeeds in wooing the schoolteacher and marrying her, the film jumps forward to the mid 1940's, when the war is in full swing. The racism shown toward Benigni, who was a Jew, becomes more apparent. Benigni gets himself into hot water with big bullying authority figures and uses slapstick comedy to get his point across.
He is then shipped to a concentration camp in Germany. There, Benigni invents an elaborate ploy to hide the truth of what is really going on from his son. He tells him that it is all a big game, and whoever is first to get 1000 points will win a real tank. Anything that threatens to break in on this fantasy is explained away as just part of the game. The movie is an attempt to keep the reality of the situation from his son; but equally important is the way he builds up the horror of the camp and then breaks the spell with a comic moment.
We see from the beginning that Benigni does not hold authority in high regard. He ridicules these people repeatedly in the first half of the film. In the beginning Benigni is mistaken for the king of Italy as he and his friend's car loses control and accidentally ends up in a parade. He is constantly switching hats (i.e. switching roles or identities) with a fascist employer of his. When the priest is to arrive from Rome, Benigni assumes his identity and winds up going to a local school where he...