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”.
Runtime: 116 min
A film that seems to pop up from time to time on the best films of all time along with most of the other films on my own list of shame. And this film is one of the most recent being released in 1997.The film is divided into two parts the first part follows the falling in love of Roberto Benigni as Guido and Nicoletta Braschi as Dora there early courtship and the second half follows what happens to them during world war 2 because of they are Jewish. It is a film full of joy and life the early portion of the film where we are introduced to Guido is fantastic harking back to some of the great physical comedy of early cinema .
His performance is a highlight for me of the film he has amazing timing and displays a virtuoso gift for physical comedy. One stand out moment during the early part of the film before the war is a series of things he has set up and observed .This allows him to make it seem on his date that he can call upon the virgin Mary to make his wish’s come through. The first part of the films does have foreshadowing of the war racist propaganda and the bureaucratic nature of the young fascist state. This also allows some comedic moments where he asks a shop owner his political alliance and he tells his two small boys named Adolf and Benito to sit down. The films then jumps forward five or six years to the middle of world war two. At this point they now have a son named Joshua played very well by Giorgio Cantarini.
Even though the latter part of the film takes place in a concentration camp they find a way to make it light hearted and humorous by the father lying to his child and telling him that it is a game to see who can win a tank with a thousand points. It shows even in the darkest of times people are still good and there is always hope even in the bleakest of places. There is a dark sinister undertone to the camp which the film more alludes to than outright shows. This film could have been a utter disaster much like the unreleased film about a clown in a concentration camp called The Day the Clown Cried .Which even the director Jerry Lewis said the film is embarrassing .
But this film manages to handle the subject mater with class and the tonal shifts don’t detract from the movie as a whole It is very well written and acted film and it does make me want to go out and find other films by the director and the actors .A modern classic of international cinema with a strong cast and script expertly delivered by everyone involved a must see