Life Is Beautiful (La Vita E Bella)
Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Italy, 1998. Melampo Cinematografica, Cecchi Gori Group Tiger Cinematografica. Screenplay by Roberto Benigni, Vincenzo Cerami. Cinematography by Tonino Delli Colli. Produced by Gianluigi Braschi, John M. Davis, Elda Ferri. Music by Nicola Piovani. Production Design by Danilo Donati. Costume Design by Danilo Donati. Film Editing by Simona Paggi. Academy Awards: / Cannes Film Festival / Toronto International Film Festival.
Beautiful, bittersweet fable about a goofy Italian bookseller (Roberto Benigni) who romances and marries a school teacher (Nicoletta Braschi, Benigni’s real-life wife) only to have his happy home life ruined years later by their being placed in a Nazi concentration camp. While there, he forces himself himself to trick his adorable son (Giorgio Cantarini) into thinking the entire thing is one big game so that the small fry will never know the misery of what the world has become. Deliciously whimsical moments and some truly touching ones (playing Tales Of Hoffmann so his wife will hear it is simply lyrical) make it possible to make a comedy about the Holocaust that neither soft-pedals the horrors or makes the humor inappropriate. It maintains an attitude of joy even in the face of evil, which is the most pointedly rebellious political statement any film could ever make on the subject (watch for when Benigni rides the painted horse). Features a cameo by breathtaking Spanish actress Marisa Paredes.