September 23, 2008

La Vita E Bella (Life is Beautiful)

I think the most meaningful films to watch are those of small European movies that allow us to get involved with a single person or family in their town or village and let us observe up close the impact of evil on people we have come to genuinely care about.
Life is Beautiful, an Italian movie, written, directed by and starring Roberto Benigni, is a movie blended with a bit of comedy and wrenching sorrow resulting from the deportation of Jews from the concentration camps.

This movie is divided into two main parts, the first featuring the charming, romantic buffoonery of Guido Orefice, who has come to work as a waiter in his uncle's fancy hotel. In this first part of the movie, the music and the tune of every scene seem to be going in accordance to the settings, making it more carefree and vibrant as Guido's joke scenes coincide with the music. The lighting is in its full peak as though every scene is filled with laughter and joy.

Guido Orefice, a seemingly intelligent man is a character full of jokes and silly doings such as stealing other guy's hats, and later pretended to be an inspector of a school while dressed only in his underwear. He sets his romantic sights on the pretty school teacher Dora, a beautiful and gentle woman of a local upper crust. Guido saves Dora from her rude and loud fiance.

After all of the funny romantic stuff, the music and the mood changed into somewhat heavy falls of rain and strong beat of drums. The film then jumps ahead five years or so, assuming their marriage with the appearance of a young son named Joshua, an adorable little kid who's innocence gave him the protection he ever needed. By the time the Nazis, brutal and cruel soldiers, occupied the town and begun to harass Jews, including posting signs on non- Jewish shops saying "no Jews or dogs allowed." The little boy wonders and so, Guido invents a false answer and thus begins a pattern of creative deception to shield the child from the ugly reality.

The second part of the movie started on the day of Joshua's birthday party, Guido and the boy were taken off by the Nazis along with all the Jews of the town. The confused little boy then asked queries from his dad, Guido answers by pretending the entire thing is a game and the goal is to follow papa's rules and win points. It worked, the boy liked the game.

The film then shifted the whole story to the little boy's point of view when Guido and the boy entered the concentration camp. The thing was that it's all just a game and by playing on papa's rule, the boy will win points and a genuine tank.

The daily life and death game continues as Guido performs as a slave labor while his son hides out in the men's barracks while somehow learning that kids are being "cooked" in ovens in the camp.

The day arrived when soldiers here and there scattering everywhere, killing inmates to lessen the number of burden and abandon the place with the evacuees. That day was the end of the game, Joshua hid in a box where his father put him and Guido died when one of the soldiers escorted him and then shot him in an attempt to escape.

The film is a violence free movie and has enough light comedy to keep the children interested when watching this film. It also provides a meaningful dramatic experience. The film projects that the love and sacrifice of a father for a son makes "life is beautiful" worthwhile. Thus, strongly suggest this saying "protect what is beautiful from them."

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