LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL
LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL(La vita è bella) is an italian movie made on the the year 1997 by Roberto Remigio Benigni, who also starred as the hero of this extraordinary movie. Roberto Remigio Benigni, (born 27 October 1952) is a multitalented man who is an Italian actor, comedian, writer and director of film, theatre and television.
The film starts with a man narrating the story, who is later found to be none other than Joshua Orefice(written Giosué in the Italian version; portrayed by Giorgio Cantarini ).The narration starts thus,
”This is a simple story, but not an easy one to tell. Like a fable, there is sorrow and like a fable it is full of wonder and happiness.”
And true it is. Life Is Beautiful cannot be defined easily. But I’ll try my best.
The first half of the film is a whimsical, romantic comedy. It starts with Guido Orefice and his friend travelling in a car. While Guido lies lazily, his friend drives the car reciting a poem. At last, he says,
The trains are gone,
The brakes are gone.
And I can resist no more.
Go, sweet Bacchus
, take me.
The brakes are gone!
The brakes are gone!
Now, Guido says lazily,” I heard you”. And his friend says,”No, they’re really gone”. And Guido replies agape, “Weren’t you reciting a poem?” The animated first part starts thus. The first meeting of Dora and Guido happens when Dora falls from a hay building and Guido catches her and he then greets saying, “Buon giorno, Principessa!”(Good morning, princess).Then he flatters her saying,
” What kind of place is this? It's beautiful. Pigeons fly, women fall from the sky! I'm moving here!”
The beautiful romance starts thus between them. Guido, the young Italian Jew, then arrives at Arezzo, where he plans to set up a bookstore, taking a job as a waiter with the help of his uncle Elisio Orefice.
Brilliant, funny and romantic ideas are splashed here and there in this wonderful movie. When Guido wanders with his friend the next day at the city, he sees a man yelling for a key to a certain Mary, who resides at the first floor. Later, when both Guido and Dora are walking on a rainy night together, chatting about how she was like a putty in her father’s hand and how she always said yes to his words. Now, noticing that they’re nearer to this Mary’s home, he says,
Guido: So, all these treasures you're hiding.... there is a way to open this treasure
chest and always get you to say yes!
Dora: It's easier than you think.
Guido: All you need is the right key.
And where exactly is it?
Dora: Heaven knows.
Now, Guido ponders for a moment and continues,
Guido: So, you were saying...
the key that always makes you say yes
has to come from heaven.
Guido: I’ll give a try.
If the Virgin Mary tosses
it down to me... You never know.
Mary, the key!
Now, the key is thrown down by the Mary who resides at the first floor. And, Dora watches agape. This is but one of the few intelligent and romantic scenes in this film.
Guido is both funny and charismatic, especially when he romances Dora (Italian, but not Jewish; portrayed by Benigni's actual wife Nicoletta Braschi).He charms her whenever he meets her with his romantic ideas and by addressing her “Princess” always, not to mention the pre-planned ‘accidental’ meetings . Dora, who works as a teacher and who is been forced up into an unwilling marriage by her mom, eventually ends up mesmerised by Guido’s romantic ideas. When Dora is with her friend, Guido suddenly pops out from his friend’s back. Surprised, she says,
“Well, you have the amusing habit of appearing out of nowhere. “
And Guido replies, “Well, I can change that. What about we meet tonight at 8’o clock?”
Guido is often charming like this and eventually attracted by his charm and wit, Dora marries him, despite her mother’s dislike.
There is also a German Doctor, who is obsessed with riddles, which Guido is best at. He comes to dine at the hotel at which Guido serves and they end up friends.
The second part starts after a few years with Guido and Dora happily married and the fruit of labour is their son, Joshua. Guido has opened his own shop and Dora still works as a teacher. Though the family is happy, there is a noticeable change in the ambience of the city. The streets are filled up with parades, people have turned hostile towards Jews and signboards of “No Jews or Dogs allowed” adorns several stores, not to mention the sprays on the shutters of Jewish stores. Joshua sees this on one of the shops and asks his father why is it is so. To save the innocence of his son from the stark and bitter reality Guido says,
Guido: They just don't want
Jews or dogs to go in.
Everybody does what they want to.
There's a hardware store there.
They don't let Spanish people
or horses into his store.
Further ahead, there's a drugstore.
I was with a Chinese friend of mine
yesterday who had a kangaroo.
I said, " May we?" " No, we don't want
any Chinese or kangaroos here.”
They don't like them.
What can I tell you?
Joshua: We let everybody
into our bookshop.
Guido: No. From now on,
we'll write it too.
Guido: Is there anybody you don't like?
Joshua: Spiders. What about you?
Guido: I don't like Visigoths.
Starting tomorrow we'll write...
"No spiders and Visigoths allowed.”
I'm sick and tired
of these Visigoths.
Later ,at home, when Dora insists Joshua to take a bath, he hides inside a small drawer and when his mother searches for him, he leaps out of it, shouting “Buon giorno, Principessa!”, just like his father.
When Dora returns home later after fetching her mom for the feast, on the eve of Joshua’s birthday, she notices her house to be raided by German army and finds her entire family missing. Meanwhile, in the van, Joshua asks his father where they’re going. Guido replies that it was a special trip arranged on regard of his birthday. They are taken to a railroad station where they are to be transported to the german concentration camps, packed up like cattle. Urged by her love for her family, Dora soon joins her family wantedly, where they are sent as a family to their beheadance, only to be known when. But, she is packed with ladies and is sent in a separate wagon.
On seeing so many soldiers, Joshua asks his father what kind of a place it is and why they are there. Guido tries to soothe his son telling him that they are there for the great game in which the one who gets 1000 points wins. And he makes up his own rules to make his son to feel that everything that happens there is just a part of sport rather than carnage. When a soldier comes in to threaten the new prisoners, Guido volunteers to translate German (though he does not really know) ,and makes up his own rules. The words of Guido as he acts like translating the German’s words and announces,
The first one to get a thousand points
wins. The prize is a tank!
Every day we'll announce who's in
the lead from that loudspeaker.
The one with the least points
has to wear a sign saying "jackass"...
right here on his back.
We play the part
of the real mean guys who yell.
Whoever's scared loses points.
You'll lose your points
for three things.
One, if you cry.
Two, if you want
to see your mommy.
Three, if you're hungry
and you want a snack.
Forget about it!
It's easy to lose points
for being hungry.
I lost 40 points...
because I absolutely had
to have a jam sandwich.
He wanted strawberry.
Don't ask for any lollipops.
You won't get any.
We eat them all!
I ate 20 of them yesterday!
What a stomachache.
But they sure were good.
Sorry if I'm going so fast,
but I'm playing hide-and-seek.
I have to go now
or they'll find me.
Guido then insists that Joshua must always be hidden, because children are supposed to get their points by Hide and seek. Joshua believes everything his father says on accord of Guido’s convincing acts and due to his own innocence. The film then moves with the horrors of the camp, only to be turned to be a sport in the eyes of the innocent Joshua by his father. The film then revolves around the questions like “what happens at last, was Guido able to soothe his son till the end, and was the family able to reunite? “
Roberto has lived his part as Guido .The guy is both funny and intelligent. He plays the perfect lover by coming up with romantic ideas that never ceases to marvel Dora and as a perfect father, trying to emolliate his son’s anxiety and doubts and to make him feel at home. The emotions he has portrayed on places like on trying desperately to explain his own created rules, the place where he saves his son when Joshua dines with german children and reveals himself by saying thanks in Italian, and in the place where he finds out that the signal from his old german doctor(the riddle addicted one) friend in the camp was not for their escape but for helping him to solve a riddle and at the scene where he booms “Buon giorno, Principessa!” in the loudspeaker to announce to his Dora that they(him and his son) are all well and while he transmits a song using the loudspeaker at the night to depict his love for his Dora and at the scene where he marches comically imitating the german soldier, drawing laughter from his son, towards his ultimate sacrifice.
And Giorgio Cantarini as the innocent Joshua Orefice is really handsome, precocious and charming. You could easily watch his innocent face and forget about the rest of the movie. See the picture above, of this child standing agape with wonder and I bet you could not resist a tiny smile.
At the start of this lengthy review, I told you this is a simple story. Well, it truly isn’t. This story is about how a father toils hard to prevent his son from the haunting truth that might well consume the precious innocence of his son. The movie is romantic , funny ,intelligent, and filled up with a love of a father for his son. Above all this, it is deeply moving and soul deprieving. I am proud to say here that I had two drops in my eyes when the film ended. Never before has there been a movie, which portrays the love of a father towards his son so funnily and deeply moving. And I ask you to read this review again to get some new light. Thanks for having the patience for reading this lengthy review and more of all, bearing up with me.
This is a great movie which every man and woman in this world has to watch. A movie which is surely not be missed. So, watch it as soon as possible and I assure you, you would never regret it.