User Reviews (1,128)

  • kvonarx6 December 1999
    The Best Movie I've seen for a long long time
    I am surprised about the negative comments that some people made on this web-page. I can see how some people might not experience the same kind of uplift or joy that most of us lived through when seeing the movie. But that some viewers felt insulted and betrayed because the movie did not depict "reality" as it really was or is, is not fair.

    I must concur with my fellow proponents of the movie -- it was a great and very satisfying movie. It provided me with something that everyone in one or another shape or form needs -- Hope. The movie showed the cruelty of life and yet managed to shed some light and insight into the beauty of love and life in general.

    I urge anyone who has not seen La Vita è bella to go out there and watch it. If we all take with us just little bit of that hope and love that this movie is trying to convey; this world would be a much better place.

    Thank you for reading this and I hope you enjoyed or will enjoy the movie as much as I did.
  • amira_berzi29 August 2000
    One of the best movies ever.
    This is one of those movies that have a lasting effect on you. After watching it, I found that it has less to do with the Holocaust and more to do with the human feelings and the beautiful relationship of a father and his son. The holocaust provides the ultimate context, that brings and highlights the story and adds yet another deep dimension to the movie. No such piece of art has ever before combined laughter and tears of sadness in me before and that is the miracle of the movie. The realism of the movie is not its strong point, but then again it is not supposed to be; this helps in bringing the audiences to a state of mind away from reality, focusing on the feelings generated by forgetting about all external events and developments of the war. Despite that, the movie does not fail to point out an element of the nazi psychology demonstrated by the doctor who was obsessed with riddles. This portrayed the nazi 'state of mind' (if ever such an expression existed) as a sick mentally disturbed state. Life is really beautiful as you watch Guido's relentless efforts to make a lovely exciting experience of the concentration camp to his son. You get exhausted just watching him going through his painful day and yet you smile as he speaks to his son and makes him laugh. One can go on forever describing the creativity of this movie, but one will not be able to capture all its beauty in writing.
  • Conservative-SNAG23 October 2004
    Courage Personified...10/10
    I can't understand how other reviewers see this as a film about the Nazis or the Holocaust. It's not!!! "Life is Beautiful" is a film about love, optimism, courage and inner strength.

    To be honest I can't get this film out of my thoughts and decided to write this brief review in the hope that I could move on.

    "Life is Beautiful" is an unforgettable film. You go through emotions you were surprised could have for a fictional film. The story, although totally implausible, is uplifting and depressing at the same time.

    Please see it for yourself. Have a box of tissues handy.

    Best film ever seen!!!
  • Michael DeZubiria27 March 2000
    Funny, entertaining, and amazingly intense and dramatic.
    I find it sad that so many people are so narrow-minded that they will not watch a movie that is black and white or, in this case, is subtitled. I feel sorry for people who refuse to watch a movie like Life Is Beautiful just because it is a foreign film. They have no idea what a beautifully acted and directed film this is, and they'll never know what an amazing experience they are missing.

    Life Is Beautiful manages to walk the extremely thin line between humor, fantasy, and tragedy. Sure, the film is clearly comedic, but nevertheless it manages to very effectively communicate the tremendous losses suffered in the Nazi concentration camps and has scenes at least as intense as any scene in Schindler's List.

    This is one of the best films that I have ever seen. It manages to be so encompassing that you hardly notice the subtitles are even there. I proudly cast my vote of 10.
  • Monika-53 January 2000
    This may be one of the best films ever made. I've never seen a movie with such a balance of hysterical comedy and serious drama. Roberto Benigni totally deserved his Oscars. People on this site have said such negative things about him and this film. Mr. Benigni had a lot of guts to make this film, and there's not another film like it. He handled both the comedy and drama aspects beautifully. I loved the beautiful cinematography, scenery, and the characters. This movie is magnificent in every way. Don't miss it!
  • Serpico-726 February 1999
    A superb tragi-comedy
    Roberto Benigni's Vita e bella, is in many ways similar to Chaplin's Great Dictator. Both are comic attacks on fascism, but the former's is the more successful. Benigni initially accesses the emotions of his audience through simple comedy, which is a pleasant mix of Keaton and Chaplin. Romance ensues with his real life wife Nicoletta Braschi. The first half of this film has been seen by various critics as being inferior to the second, but this is certainly not the case. In the first section we follow the delightful romance that will eventually lead to marriage and the creation of the wonderful Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini).

    It is the first half where the audience can laugh the loudest and delight at the immense comedy talent of Benigni. Unlike so many films nowadays there is nothing crude or course, his is simple innocent humour, which is all the more effective. The way he ties together little strand in the film to create comedy elements shows a great writing ability, and a mastery of timing when it comes to their execution on screen. Various incidents related to the rise of anti-semitism and fascism in Italy show that there are sinister forces at work which come to the fore in the second segment.

    Guido (Benigni) moves events on from Tuscany in 1939 to the last year of the war in a concentration camp. In this period he and Dora (Braschi) have had their son Giosue (Cantanarini). The five year old greatly reminds me of Toto in Cinema Paradiso, and plays an equally important role in his prospective film (though in Paradiso's case it is at the beginning of the movie). The relationship between the two is very similar to that of Jackie Coogan and Charlie Chaplin (though Benigni, unlike Chaplin, keeps the best of the comedy moments). Guido attempts to keep from the boy the horrors of what is going on, and this eventually manifests itself as a game where the aim is to score 100 points, with the winner winning a real tank (which, of course appeals to the young boy). Comic moments are still present, that involving Guido's translation of the rules of the camp is particularly notable, but it becomes somewhat more difficult to laugh when we consider the gravity of what is going on.

    The emphasis begins shifts, and we realise that this is a film about human spirit above all else. Guido not only appeals to the audience due to his comedy and sheer pleasantness, but also in the way that he loves his family and the measures that he will go to to protect them.

    This is certainly no Schindler's List, but it never pretends to be. Occasionally events seem a little contrived, but this does seem to work in the film's favour. However, this film avoids the tendency of Hollywood to go far over the top in emotional and credibility terms.

    Benigni shines like a lantern throughout the picture, showing that he is a talent, not only in comedy terms, that far outshines his peers. Cantanari is a delight, and Braschi also plays her part well. There is even an appearance by The Magnificent Seven's Horst Buchholz as Doctor Lessing, a man who events change for the worse.

    Please don't let the fact that it, to all but the Italians, is a foreign language film. The language itself adds a beauty of form to the film, much as it did in the case of Il Postino. This has to be a certainty for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, though something tells me that it will be overlooked for other awards as it is Italian and not a mainstream English language picture.

    Please see this film, and make up your own mind. It is appealing in so many different ways that I'm sure that you will not be disappointed.
  • farkas41930 January 2006
    One of the Best Movies I've Ever Seen
    The first time I saw the movie was when I was about seventeen or so, and I never forgot it. The incredibly human characters (such as the doctor who loved riddles), the fantastic script-writing, the amazing acting, and of course the heartwarming story. This movie proves once and for all how strong we are, as humans, that in the face of adversity we can make the best of things. There is so much love in the characters; Dora's love for her husband Guido is boundless, as well as Guido's love for his son. Sure, it's a slightly unrealistic movie, but hey, aren't they all a little unrealistic? I've also seen people review this movie and say that it made light of the Holocaust, which was of course a dark point in history. I don't think so; I think that it's only delicately handled, and because of that, the movie is one that a person can watch in one sitting without being thoroughly disgusted by mankind. I would say that those who think this movie is too "light" are cynical and bitter. The whole point to the movie is to show what love is capable of, and to provide encouragement and perhaps guidance. This movie changed my life from the first time I watched it. I came away with this feeling that no matter what I have to face in life, that I can overcome it. This is a movie that I would recommend to anyone over the age of eleven. The acting is superb (though Roberto Benigni is a little over-the-top, LOL), the story heartwarming and easy to understand. It's excellent!
  • gaur-abhi12 November 2005
    The most aptly named movie - A classic
    I have never in my life seen a movie that so truly symbolizes its name and its message. Roberto Benigni - 'The Italian Treasure House' has probably given to his viewers his best. The story, the performances, the entire theme of a person performing his duties as a husband, as a father is very 'moving' and inspiring. 'Life is beautiful' as the name goes is about a Jewish man, who falls in love with a non-Jewish lady, marries her, has a kid and who is then taken as a prisoner in a concentration camp along with his wife and kid. But the way he protects his kid from the horrors of the genocide, how he always tries to find ways to make his wife and kid smile and laugh, is what makes the movie, a MUST SEE.

    It is certainly one of the best movies that I have seen.
  • Nazi_Fighter_David4 September 2001
    A satire set in a concentration camp, tough a hit internationally, was thought by some critics to be in bad taste...
    Warning: Spoilers
    Mixing humor and the Holocaust isn't anything new: Ernst Lubitsch's 'To Be Or Not To Be' is just one enduring classic; Mel Brooks' 'The Producers' is another; and 'Life Is Beautiful' has the small-town charm and ambiance of 'Amarcord,' and light-straight satire of 'The Great Dictator.'

    Set against the stark reality of World War II Europe, Roberto Benigni's sentimental fable is not a film about the Holocaust, it's a film about life and hope merely against the backdrop of the Holocaust... It's not a denial of the Holocaust, it is a manifestation that humor itself can be courage... It's not about betraying the experience of millions of Jews, it is about the great lengths a father will go to protect his family from the horrors of the Nazis... It's a demonstration of the power of cinema, it's art without claim, hope without fear, dreams without limitations... It's a motion picture about love, not a documentary about the Nazis... It delivers a powerful message that despite everything—life is truly beautiful...

    The story begins in 1939 Italy, where a simple, free-spirited Italian Jew Guido Orefice (Benigni) and his poet friend Ferrucio (Sergio Bini Bustic) have dreams of owning their own bookstore... For now, however, Guido must be satisfied to wait tables, while Ferrucio is unable to get a job...

    Benigni's character is introduced during a long set of fast comedy scenes, particularly when he meets a cute gentile woman, Dora—Nicoletta Braschi, Benigni's real-life wife... When she 'falls out of the sky,' and he quickly nicknames her 'Principessa'... When he rides, in a fascist ball, on a horse painted green... When he turns a gloomy rainy night into a red carpet event... When he is caught by the Nazis as he hurries about securing the safety of his wife and son.. When his car speeds, without brakes, through a village and is mistaken for a king...

    Guido falls hard for the radiant schoolteacher, daughter of a wealthy family, and pursues her with all the charm and imagination he can discharge... In one sequence he pretends to be a school inspector and gives an impromptu speech on racial superiority before the assembled students and teachers, ending with a striptease...

    That hilarious side of the film takes up the first half... Benigni (who also wrote and directed) borrows a bit of Chaplin's grace and a bit of Groucho Marx charm... All of the action is so neatly contrived that the film essentially ends when it's over, and then begins again with the introduction of Guido and Dora's cute five-year-old son Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini) few years later...

    There, in 1945, we catch a glimpse of their enchanting household, but things are soon shattered, and the Nazis take Guido, with his tolerant uncle (Giustino Durano) and little Giosue off to an unidentified concentration camp... Dora races to the train station and demands to be put also on the train...

    At the death camp, and in order to protect his son from the nightmare of the place, Guido uses his imagination by creating the illusion that everything that's happening is just a game, an epic game that will be exciting and fun...

    He convinces Giosue that by hiding from the Gestapo soldiers (whom he refers to simply as the "men who yell a lot") and maintaining silence, he can gain the necessary points to win a tank... Not a toy tank, but a full-size tank, which they'll be free to take home...

    As co-writer, Benigni (with Vincenzo Cerami), doesn't just mix drama and comedy, he often hides drama in the comedy... The film does not dwell on the horrors of the camp, nor does it ignore them...

    With a memorable score by Nicola Piovani, "Life Is Beautiful" is an important film, triumphant, timeless, and sublime... It manages to entertain, educate, and move with its potent combination of humor, poignancy, and dignity... Roberto Benigni has taken pure horror and turned it into a love story between a man and a woman, between a father and his son... As an actor, Benigni manages with his wise and simple performance to make us laugh in tragic situations... He was very realistic, natural, distant from great special effects, far from Hollywood style, only nice and beautiful cinema...

    The film won Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Foreign Film and Best Dramatic Score...
  • Dan Grant25 June 1999
    The best foreign language film I have ever seen.
    I typically don't care much for sub-titled movies. Foreign films to me are slow and about nothing. So I naturally went to see Life is Beautiful with a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to hate it. I wanted it to be just another movie that Hollywood was praising to show that they were an intelligent bunch of people. Oh boy was I in for the surprise of my life. Not only is this film good, I honestly believe that it was the second best film of 98, next to Saving Private Ryan. The mere fact that Shakespeare in Love won best picture over not only Ryan but over this, is a joke. It's actually funny.

    Benigni did everything in this film. He wrote, produced, directed and probably swept the floors at night. There is that much raw energy in this film. There really is. For someone to have that kind of vision is truly incredible. And not only is the film a terrific cinematic experience because of the importance and seriousness of the subject matter, but it is one of the funnier films I've ever seen. When Roberto is translating the German soldiers insructions to his son so that he isn't scared, it is at that moment that you realize you are under his spell. He's got you and no matter how much sceptisism you may have about the film you know you're witnessing a classic in every sense of the word.

    I loved this film. Loved everything about it and I am so glad that I got to see it and cheer Benigni at the Oscars. He certainly deserved his best actor award and he should have gotten more.
  • gbheron12 November 2000
    A Movie About Hope
    Life Is Beautiful takes the premise that love and hope can survive the most trying of conditions, in this case a Nazi concentration camp. Most everyone knows this very popular and honored film, so I won't belabor the story. Briefly, in my humble opinion, this film deserves all the accolades it's been awarded. A near perfect film, my only gripe is that Mr. Benigni's performance could have been more understated, especially the half of the film that's set in the concentration camp. But this is only a slight complaint. For a joyful, life-affirming movie, Life Is Beautiful is tops. But be forewarned, as its principal backdrop of anti-Semitism and Nazi murder, it is not a very happy movie.
  • The Jash18 January 2009
    Its not a documentary people...
    Warning: Spoilers
    I watched this movie last night as it was listed as a favourite by my partner. I left the movie with a greater appreciation for the love a parent has for their child and the sense that under extreme duress sometimes its humour that drags you through to the other side. Yes it wasn't accurate, yes it was a caffeine free Holocaust Lite, but its not Schindler's List - nor a documentary. No-one with half a brain would expect that, yet here amongst all these reviews are people lambasting the movie for not being 100% factual. Last night I felt a greater empathy for what the Jews, Gypsies, Intellectuals, Political Dissidents, Blacks, Gays and all the others went through in the atrocities of Nazi Germany, but once again the belligerent attitude that accompanies any mention of The Holocaust has soured it. No-one is discounting any of the horror, but that wasn't what this movie is about. I would have thought that a movie embracing the triumph of human spirit over adversity would have been embraced by those that didn't agree with the less than factual nature of the portrayal of the camp.
  • JonB-212 December 1998
    Begnigni è Genio (Begnigni's a Genius)
    On seeing this film, my first thought (after wiping the tears from my eyes) was "My god, he pulled it off." I can think of only one other director who's dealt with the Holocaust in a comedic film and done it with any depth, and his name was Chaplin -- and "The Great Dictator" was made before the horrors of the Final Solution were known to the world. Chaplin didn't have to deal with that baggage. Begnigni did, and did so brilliantly.

    The film begins as an earthy comedy as only the Italians can do and ends as a dark tragedy with a hopeful note -- and the transition from one to the other is seamless. In fact, the latter half of the film would not work without all the meticulous set-ups of the first half. That we get to meet Begnigni's character, see his world and hopes and dreams, makes it all only more poignant as they are threatened with destruction. On top of this, the first half of the film is reminiscent of "Amaracord" (one of my favorite films) in appearance -- possibly a result of it being set in the same period, possibly intentional. (Begnigni pulls off at least one homage to "The Bicycle Thief," among other films, during the first act and a half.)

    Anyway... I really debated with myself before seeing the film, thinking, "Hm. A comedy... about the Holocaust. Do I want to deal with that tonight?" I went, I saw, and the film conquered me. Fellini made me suspect that the Italians might be film geniuses... "La Vita è Bella" made me realize they are film gods...

    See it. Now.
  • eric26200328 January 2013
    Shows a Lighter Edge To A Tragic Event In History
    Warning: Spoilers
    I never thought the day would come when a movie centred during the Holocaust would be provided with humour. The Holocaust was anything but funny then and now as thousands of Europeans of Jewish faith were killed off mainly towards fear, paranoia, economical insecurity and just plain hatred. But once in a while towards sadness, we can open our hearts and try to survive the grimness with some humour to raise our spirit. And that is exactly what actor/director/writer Roberto Benigni succeeds in "Life is Beautiful". It's a refreshing break from the graphic and and disturbing images that has haunted the theatres past and present like Spielberg's "Schildler's List" or Polanski's "The Pianist" as we look to a more brighter side of the Holocaust mainly toward the humour of the leading protagonist, Guido Orefice (Benigni).

    When it first came out and it was listed as a comedy, I thought it was just too surreal to be true. I mean nothing funny ever happened in the Holocaust. And film adaptations have been quite demonstrative at that. In those troubled times, lives were lost, families were separated, people were cold, starving fear and doubt was on the minds of Europeans Jewish and non-Jewish. at the time. But Benigni showed his mastery in front and behind the camera that we can enjoy the goodness of life, even in times of uncertainty because we only live once and we must enjoy it while we can.

    Benigni was not the only person who made this film all the more worthwhile. Nicoletta Braschi turns in a wonderful performance as a Catholic girl who loves her husband regardless of what religion he practises. A grand portion of scenes demonstrates just how pointless racism is and the best example is set in the schoolroom scene.

    Concentration camps are one of the worst establishments anyone would ever dream of entering and yet in this movie we can enjoy a chuckle. In one scene, Guido persuades the soldiers as he defends his son as a ploy to prevent his son from further dire circumstances. While we laugh as he tries to weasel his way out from further punishment, we are still aware and concerned about the welfare of Guido and his young son and the dangers they are encountering.

    The fearful and depressing effects of the Holocaust is exhibited in brief moments of sad truths that weave into Guido's detailed fantasies. But you never see him fall victim to disparity. His wild imagination and his determination are the only weapons of protection he utilizes to keep his family and his son in tact. The remarkable story of love and tenderness is worthy enough for everyone to see. This movie should be cherished for a long time to come.
  • ma-cortes4 December 2012
    Marvelous tale about a likable Jewish protecting his son and wife from horrifying concentration camp
    Wonderful fable plenty of amazing fantasy, lively comedy and sad tragedy . This is a poignant and moving fable about a sacrifice to save a son and a wife . It's an unforgettable story formed by two halves that proves imagination, family and love conquer all ; as Benigni's focus is on the love between daddy , mummy and son . The first part results to be an Italian comedy style , the second is horror along with humor . It concerns upon Guido (Roberto Benigni, a magnificent rubber-faced funny man), a Jewish man who has a wonderful romance with the help of his humour, but must use that same quality to protect his son in a Nazi death camp . He's a madcap romantic man and women wish him . But he falls in love with Dora (Benigni's real-life sweetie Nicoletta Braschi). Every day Guido dreams of marrying her , under Nicola Piovani score . When the Second World War spontaneously breaks out , he and his family is imprisoned at concentration camp . Guido is determined to save his lover and son (Cantarini) from dangers around them . His effort sometimes is pure fantasy , though with ruse he pull off more impetus to keep his son and accomplishes feats no man could realistically execute . Guido fabricates an elaborated game to convince his child that the whole ordeal is an endurance proof to be won with prizes forthcoming , as it turns out to be a special contest to win a tank.

    This is a story about love , war and sacrifice , well starred and directed by Roberto Benigni who develops a fire-line between comedy and tragedy . Inventive gags and wacky humor are splendidly proceeded . At first consideration , the theme of a feel-good holocaust comedy war was a non-sense . However , Benigni doesn't describe a holocaust film but rather a tale of endurance of family love . Benigni tirelessly maintains the humorous ingenuity, even as the horror war escalates. Actor and director Benigni shapes simultaneously haunting and hilarious comedy out of the tragedy of Nazi concentration camp . In a especially humorous scene , Guido translates a guard's barking at the inmates as furthers clarification of the rules of game . The picture is divided into two parts , the first half deals with an entertaining boy-meets-girl tale , a light-weight comedy in which Guido relentlessly pursues Dora ; the second half shifts and depicts the horrors of the concentration camps . Good support cast formed by notorious secondaries as the Spanish Marisa Paredes , Lidia Alfonsi and Horst Buchhold as a Nazi doctor . The film displays an emotive musical score by Nicola Piovani, who deservedly had Oscar winner . Furthermore , it won Academy Award to Foreign film and of course to Benigni ; Roberto Benigni's Oscar for best actor marked only the second time that an actor had directed himself in an Academy Award winning performance , the other was Laurence Olivier for Hamlet . Colorful and glamorous cinematography by Tonino Delli Colli . Effective and appropriate production design by the veteran Danilo Donati . The motion picture was marvelously directed by Benigni. He's a good comedy director (Monster, Johnny Toothpick, Little devil) with some flop (Pinoccio) and usual actor for Jim Jarmusch (Coffee and cigarettes, Night of Earth, Down by law). Rating : Better than average . Well worth seeing .
  • guidecca-26 November 2008
    I Agree 10 of 10 and bring tissue
    I am in agreement that the story is implausible but utterly moving. I sit here and think about Captain's Courageous and would place it in the same category. It will make you cry. What a beautiful story of love and sacrifice. Children are always worth saving and any sacrifice for them is moving. I do not know why there is a minimum number of lines to submit a review of movies on IMDb. That is a change from the original rules. I'm not a film critic and barely find time to write this review. I was very happy to receive help from IMDb in identifying the movie and I am surprised that it was filmed so recently. It deserves 83 ranking and I hope it remains there so that others will get a chance to discover it.
  • claudemercure7 November 2001
    The most overrated movie of the 90's
    Despite its unusual approach (it's a holocaust comedy) this is at heart a fatally self-conscious, shamelessly lowest-common-denominator film with the subtlety of a brick to the head. When he isn't straining to act 'lovable' (actually coming off as obnoxious), Benigni keeps busy pushing every easy emotional button he can think of. But why should we care? His romance is never made believable, and the horror of the holocaust is never made real, because the way he edgelessly films it, we might as well be watching a film set in a medium-security prison. (The movie numbers a grand total of one effective dramatic moment, which is Benigni's artfully handled last scene.)

    The lowest point in recent Academy Awards history is when Roberto Benigni won best actor for this film (he was up against Nick Nolte, Ian McKellen, Edward Norton and Tom Hanks, all in career-best performances, for god's sake!).

    If you feel such a strong need to be manipulated that you don't care that the guy doing the manipulating is a shallow egotist, then this movie will suit you just fine.
  • Matthias Heuermann30 January 2006
    but this film is not
    Admitively, I'm not a big fan of Benigni and I don't consider his kind of humour as even remotely funny, but what makes this exercise such a truly unbearable experience is that good old Roberto chooses the Holocaust of all things as a gloomy backdrop to make himself shine all the more.

    Its always a big risk if the same person directs, writes and plays the lead and to my knowledge only Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Vincent Gallo and Woddy Allen can get away with it. But all of them have some kind of self-deprecating approach. A quality that is completely absent with Roberto Benigni. What makes it all the more annoying is, that most of the people fall for it, as was evident in the cinema when I watched the film.

    So in order to make himself look good he writes a script that places himself in the middle of some very mean and nasty Nazis. Thankfully he doesn't need to bother with characters as everyone knows that the Nazis are are the epitome of evil anyway. But portraying himself as the tireless adversary of the oppressors isn't quite enough for Benigni. In order to hammer it home to the everyone that he is the good guy, he puts himself in charge of a cute little child, that he has to protect from the trauma of concentration camps. Sometimes this is quite easily done. As the two of them wander aimlessly around the grounds, they happen to come across a huge pile of bodies. We haven't realized this at first cause there was some very spooky fog floating around. Protectively Benini shields the boy's eyes from the unappetizing sight while the music reaches a dramatic crescendo. What a nice guy. This might seem like nitpicking to you but as they were apparently deported to a labour camp and not to an extermination camp, they wouldn't have come across such a sight. But any historic accuracy is secondary to Benigni as long as something gives him another opportunity to make out what a emphatic, altruistic and considerate character he is. Its so unsubtly done, it has to insult anyone with a bit of intelligence.

    I know, coming up with a comedy set in the Third Reich is always a tricky business but Lubitsch and Chaplin have proved that it can be done. Benigni though fails on all fronts. Some scenes are shamelessly nicked from 'the Great Dictator', in another some raw eggs are placed in a hat and you think that this is so corny and predictable and he can't possible have the villain don the hat (ha ha) and yet he does, and even worse, the audience around me behaved as if this was the funniest thing they'd ever seen. Well, if this is your kind of humour you're in for a real treat.
  • themadstork29 December 2003
    There are very few movies, no matter how bad, where I come away personally disliking all those involved. "Life is Beautiful" is one of those movies. Why because beneath the shiny, happy coating "Life is Beautiful" embodies a narcisstic and almost nihilistic view of the world; I say this because Begnini et al. are apparently willing to use genocide to infuse a poorly written, badly acted, and sloppily directed movie with dignity it doesn't deserve. And make no mistake this movie is all three. The drama is fake, the segments don't flow, the acting sophomoric, the history laughable, and the characters stereotypes at best. Begnini can do slapstick and there is a funny bit or two, but these add up to nothing and seem positively grotesque in light of what comes later. This movie is the most banal and manipulative sort of crowd pleaser, the sort that assumes the crowd is composed entirely of idiots, but because it nominally concerns the holocaust otherwise intelligent people are unwilling to call the movies cynical little game for what it is, fearing the -"What you didn't like 'Life is Beautiful?!' No don't say anything else you don't have a soul," or the more common, "Well go back to your Jerry Bruckheimer movies." Well in all honesty that's an insult to Mr. Bruckheimer. His movies may insult my intelligence, but never to the level this movie did. At the predictable and overdone ending I remember thinking, "I know what you want me to do movie, but there's no way I'm buying." Worse this movie is an insult to anyone who had to suffer because of the Nazis and their fascist allies. Watching this movie I'm reminded of how Salem, MA uses historical atrocity as a kitchy tourist draw (going so far as to put witches on broomsticks on the sides of police cars). Begnini uses the holocaust to draw in suckers in the same way. Group Mr. Begnini with the all those in the holocaust industry who are willing to use the worst atrocity of the 20th century to open wallets and flatter their inflated egos. Beyond being an insult to the victims of National Socialism this movie is terrible because it crowds out much better movies on the same subject. Everyone chalks in "Life is Beautiful" as their art movie of the month and ignores better movies on the holocaust like "The Ogre," "Invincible," or "Heimat."
  • mullymt-112 May 2000
    Schlock at its lowest level
    I saw this movie soon after its American release, before the massive wave of buzz set in. At the time, I remember thinking that America's intelligience level had to be much higher than the level this film speaks to. I was wrong. This movie might as well have been directed by Joel Schumacher (who, in my opinion is the worst director in Hollywood) Pure schlock. This movie is on the same level of Patch Adams: cheesy, brainless and horrible.

    Everything in this film is weak: the script, the pacing, the cinematography, and especially the acting. Roberto Benigni winning an Oscar is the equivalent of Danielle Steel winning a Nobel Prize in literature. The only point of this movie is to make the viewer cry.

    If you are interested in a foreign film that shows how the relationship between an doomed father and an unwitting child should be played, watch the Russian film Burnt by the Sun. This film is just poor.
  • Mark Honhorst28 November 2009
    Slapstick humor in a holocaust film?
    Warning: Spoilers
    You betcha. But it's not as offensive as you think. In fact, it's not offensive at all. It's a powerful and moving film about the power of family and what one man will do when that family is threatened. The plot is as follows: after Germans attack Italy, Guido and his family are forced into a concentration camp. Guido spends most of the rest of the film desperately trying to convince his young son that the holocaust is nothing but a game- and that the child has to keep out of sight in order to win. He promises him that the winner will earn a full size tank- and the boy does get a tank at the end of the film, just not in the way he thinks he will. The first hour or so is pure slapstick/romantic comedy, and the second hour or so is moving and heartbreaking- with touches of humor to(I assume) keep the audience from becoming too depressed or disturbed. I was amazed at how it could dramatically shift from comedy to drama so quickly.

    Try to watch this film without crying. If you don't, even just a bit, there's something seriously wrong with you.
  • kuldeep_ranthambhore4 October 2008
    one of those movies that have a lasting effect on you
    I have never in my life seen a movie that so truly symbolizes its name and its message. Roberto Benigni - 'The Italian Treasure House' has probably given to his viewers his best. The story, the performances, the entire theme of a person performing his duties as a husband, as a father is very 'moving' and inspiring.This may be one of the best films ever made. I've never seen a movie with such a balance of hysterical comedy and serious drama. Roberto Benigni totally deserved his Oscars. People on this site have said such negative things about him and this film. Mr. Benigni had a lot of guts to make this film, and there's not another film like it. He handled both the comedy and drama aspects beautifully. I loved the beautiful cinematography, scenery, and the characters.This is one of those movies that have a lasting effect on you. After watching it, I found that it has less to do with the Holocaust and more to do with the human feelings and the beautiful relationship of a father and his son. The holocaust provides the ultimate context, that brings and highlights the story and adds yet another deep dimension to the movie. No such piece of art has ever before combined laughter and tears of sadness in me before and that is the miracle of the movie. The realism of the movie is not its strong point, but then again it is not supposed to be; this helps in bringing the audiences to a state of mind away from reality, focusing on the feelings generated by forgetting about all external events and developments of the war. Despite that, the movie does not fail to point out an element of the nazi psychology demonstrated by the doctor who was obsessed with riddles. This portrayed the nazi 'state of mind' (if ever such an expression existed) as a sick mentally disturbed state. Life is really beautiful as you watch Guido's relentless efforts to make a lovely exciting experience of the concentration camp to his son. You get exhausted just watching him going through his painful day and yet you smile as he speaks to his son and makes him laugh. One can go on forever describing the creativity of this movie, but one will not be able to capture all its beauty in writing.
  • dgsred019 December 2007
    What a wonderful story.
    Warning: Spoilers
    I just watched this movie last week, and it really touched my heart. It was not about the Holocaust and how Jews were killed or tortured, but instead it was how love can keep the spirit alive to go through tough times. Roberto Benigni did a wonderful job playing the character of Guido. I was so impressed to see how nothing was impossible to Guido. His hyper personality got him in trouble all the time, but his spontaneous personality helped him to find quick solutions in a very intelligent way. Guido showed us how he devoted himself to his son, even though they were in a terrible situation. He used humor and jokes to protect his son from minimizing the horrible reality that him and his family were going through at the concentration camp. Even at the most bitter moment he sweetened everyone's and his son's life with a joke or a smile. It was really shocking to me that right before Guido was killed he made sure that his son was safe and he was still joking and smiling even though he knew that he was going to be killed. This movie was made so beautifully that I strongly recommend it to anyone to watch it.
  • steve_y11 May 2005
    Poignant , misunderstood masterpiece
    There are a small handful of reviewers who are lambasting this film , crying phrases like "unrealistic and contrived" , "emotionally manipulative" and most risibly "an insult to the memory of the victims of the holocaust".Id like to address such interpretations.

    In the latter day audiences search for films bereft of cliché, derivativeness and lack of independence there seems to be a counterintuitive rationale that if a film cannot be explicated and stand up to analysis from every myriad aspect of possible critique, then it lacks worth or merit , taken as a piece of work in its own right.It should be suggested that the intent of the film is so clear,the aims of the film so evidently manifest, that to brand the film unrealistic and then carp on with minor details regarding obvious inconsistencies, is to not be able to see the film for what it very plainly proclaims itself to be.

    This film NEVER tries to be realistic in the modern sense of film critique, this film freely admits to being contrived, this film unashamedly focuses on the characters at the expense of portraying an historically accurate reality.For the whining reviewers to not see this, is either an example of disingenuous folly or plain hard-heartedness.

    The film is driven by ideals, of romance and of selflessness.This film clearly asks the watcher to suspend belief, to enter into its fantasy, to embrace the human emotion as elucidated through the characters.Not only is this film NOT an insult to anybody who has ever been persecuted (Jew,Chilean,African,Russian,Japanese,Chinese,Cambodian - the list of persecution goes on), rather it heightens empathy for such people in this plight ,through the use of poignancy.Its intent is NEVER to trivialise such.Yes the uniforms aren't dirty enough , yes Guido takes ridiculous risks,yes the likelihood that the German guards knew some Italian are apparent but the question is - given the context of the presentation - do those niggling details matter ?

    Surely the film is engaging the viewer on an emotive level,evoking empathy for the individual case,for the desperation that sees a father moved to unthinkable extremes in an attempt to prolong the life of his son.Thus - surely , Guido's actions should not and never were intended to be 'realistic' but rather he is - to our despairing eyes ,simply pathetic ie he is evoking pity.How any discerning fair minded person could honestly and objectively brand this film as disrespectful and hateful because of comedic elements, is missing the point by oceans.This film is about the individual circumstance and thus the slapstick and ingenious way we are drawn into knowing the characters and the way we are immersed in the burgeoning love story of the small boys' parents, necessitates the audience to empathise,to engage,to feel.

    The by-play between father and son is to look at innocence personified,the bitter sweet forgoing of self in a seemingly doomed essay at escaping the impending inevitable spiral into oblivion.I think Life is Beautiful is an important work that might demand a rethinking of priorities by hard hearted critiques , who may have to shed that veneer of bloody-minded nitpicking and, to wit, see the forest for the trees.Of course the film is flawed,what film attempting such a tight balancing act between comedy and poignancy isn't? But there is a certain state of mind and spirit that needs to be adopted to be receptive to its message and i fear perhaps that such vulnerability and innocence required seems too hard and bitter a pill for some.If only they dare taste - its sweetness and candour resonate persuasively,indelibly.
  • NoRealityShows4Me13 May 2003
    Life IS beautiful, but I prefer to take the "Train of Life"
    When I rented this movie, about 2 years ago, I thought I was going to love it. It already had an Oscar and the ratings on IMDb were very high, so could it not be great? It was a BIG disappointment! I thought `Life Is Beautiful' lacked consistency most of all. It this movie was a Holocaust fairy tale (!?) for everyone to enjoy, it should have ended with the nazis and prisoners dancing and kissing each other, because `love conquers all'. If it was a comedy, I should have laughed more than twice. And if it was realistic, it would have ended sooner and tragically. Fortunately, my family didn't experience the Holocaust, but I have read enough about it and seen enough pictures, that I can never understand how you cannot be offended by this movie. I think a lot of people don't realize how wrong it is to trivialize the Holocaust, because it doesn't seem real to them. Can anybody even imagine a comedy about 9/11? I didn't think so. Maybe 50 years from now, when it doesn't seem so real and tragic.

    Last week, I watched `Train Of Life', an European co-production about the inhabitants of a small Jewish village in Central Europe who organize a fake deportation train so that they can escape the Nazis and flee to Palestine. The subject seems as unrealistic as LIB's, but the very surprising ending makes the movie brilliant! I absolutely loved `Train Of Life', the story, the acting, the music, the humor, everything about it!

    I wanted to learn more about Radu Mihaileanu, the Romanian director (a Jew himself) and found an article from "Le Nouveau Cinema" (feb.1999), entitled "Inferno Train". According to "Le Nouveau Cinema", director Radu Mihaileanu, who also wrote the script for "Train Of Life" wanted Roberto Benigni for the role of Shlomo, "the village foul". He sent the script to Benigni in 1996, but was refused politely. Strangely enough, less than a year later, Benigni was directing his own Holocaust comedy movie! Having trouble with finding financing for his movie in France (because of the delicate subject), Mihaileanu started filming a year later. This delay was more than enough for Benigni and his `La Vita E Bella'. His movie was out in theaters in Italy, during Christmas, while `Train Of Life' was still in editing. Because of the scandal surrounding the 2 movies, Gilles Jacob, the person in charge with the selections for Cannes, refused both. After Miramax bought the rights for `Life Is Beautiful' for 7 million dollars, the movie was finally selected for Cannes! In spite of everything, `Train Of Life' was nominated and won awards (about 9) all over the world. It even won the Audience Award at `Sundance' (tie with `Run Lola Run'). I recommend `Train Of Life' to everybody!
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