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Life Is Beautiful [DVD] 
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In 1939, young Italian Jew Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni) travels with his friend Ferruccio to Arezzo, where his uncle has promised to help set him up with a bookshop. Guido immediately falls in love with beautiful gentile Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), and eventually woos her away from local fascist official Rodolfo. Guido and Dora marry, have a son, Giosué, and are very happy. However, when war breaks out a few years later, Guido and Giosué are moved to a Nazi concentration camp. Determined to protect his son from the horrors of war, Guido tells him that the camp is all part of a game, and that Giosué's prize will be a life-size version of the toy tank he loves to play with. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor for Roberto Benigni.
Italy's rubber-faced funnyman Roberto Benigni accomplishes the impossible in his World War II comedy Life Is Beautiful: he shapes a simultaneously hilarious and haunting comedy out of the tragedy of the Holocaust. An international sensation and the most successful foreign language film in US history, the picture also earned director-cowriter-star Benigni Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor. He plays the Jewish country boy Guido, a madcap romantic in Mussolini's Italy who wins the heart of his sweetheart (Benigni's real-life sweetie, Nicoletta Braschi) and raises a darling son (the adorable Giorgio Cantarini) in the shadow of fascism. When the Nazis ship the men off to a concentration camp in the waning days of the war, Guido is determined to shelter his son from the evils around them and convinces him they're in an elaborate contest to win (of all things) a tank. Guido tirelessly maintains the ruse with comic ingenuity, even as the horrors escalate and the camp's population continues to dwindle--all the more impetus to keep his son safe, secure and, most of all, hidden. Benigni walks a fine line mining comedy from tragedy and his efforts are pure fantasy--he accomplishes feats no man could realistically pull off--both of which have drawn fire from a few critics. Yet for all its wacky humour and inventive gags, Life Is Beautiful is a moving and poignant tale of one father's sacrifice to save not just his young son's life but his innocence in the face of one of the most evil acts ever perpetrated by the human race. --Sean Axmaker
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I have seen the actor playing Guido in other films, and have delighted in his apparent tendency to overact (to my British sensibilities, perhaps!) before. Here, though, that level of expressiveness is needed in order to establish (efore the camp) how the father manages to maintain the cover of a 'game' to help his young son survive the concentration camp.
The strand of the story relating to the relationship between Guido the waiter and the German Dr adds to the philosophical considerations and complexity in a stunningly understated manner - this alone could be the subject of academic debate. A true contrast to the heavy handed moralising and forced emotional expression typical of many American films.
This film comes with a warning though. I watched it after searching for 'the best feel good films of all time'. I really would not describe this as a feel good film! It is harrowing in parts. The clue was in the reviewer also rating 'Slumdog millionaire' as another of the best of the same genre - another film which combines the resilience of the human spirit with precisely what is required for a definition of resilience to be met - tragedy and trauma.
It is in my opinion very good.
The dialogue is in Italian and you have to read the subtitles.
I watch a lot of films with subtitles on so, it was no bother to me.
The film again reminds me that what the Nazis went about doing to Jews was horrific.
I recommend this film as a very well put together piece of entertainment.
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I was a bit weary at the start as the story, which is based on a true tale, was rather...Read more