Guido's wife, Dora, is played by Roberto Benigni's real-life wife, Nicoletta Braschi.
Roberto Benigni was so excited to receive his Academy Award for Best Foreign Film that he stood up in his chair and leaped across several more chairs to get to the stage.
Roberto Benigni says the title comes from a quote by Leon Trotsky. In exile in Mexico, knowing he was about to be killed by Joseph Stalin's assassins, he saw his wife in the garden and wrote that, in spite of everything, "life is beautiful".
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 (1948).
Roberto Benigni became only the fourth person to be nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Director and Best Screenplay in the same year. The other recipients of this accolade are Orson Welles for Citizen Kane (1941), Woody Allen for Annie Hall (1977) and Warren Beatty for both Heaven Can Wait (1978) & Reds (1981), though "Heaven Can Wait" was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, not Best Original Screenplay like the others.
After Z (1969), this is the second film to be nominated by the Academy for both Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film.
Roberto Benigni's Oscar win for Best Actor was the second time a performance completely in Italian had been awarded. The previous winner was Sophia Loren for Two Women (1960).
In Italian, the answer to the "Snow White" riddle is seven "minuti" - a play on words between "minutes" and "dwarves".
After its Oscar win, the film increased its box office tally by 45% and added nearly 500 theaters to its US run. Not bad for a movie that had been on general release for 22 weeks.
Before they go to sleep Guido and Ferruccio have a few jokes about the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, a favorite writer of Adolf Hitler.
The screenplay by Roberto Benigni and Vincenzo Cerami was published in Italy in 1998. The published version featured a few more scenes that were not in the final movie, most notably a scene in which Guido inadvertently witnesses a mass execution of Partisans, spotting his friend Ferruccio among them.
Mel Brooks greatly disliked this film, claiming it made jokes out of the concentration camps. Brooks frequently satirizes Nazis themselves, but never makes jokes about their actions, considering the latter to be in bad taste even for him.