Seems every blogger worth their webspace is doing movie reviews these days. With the release of Da Vinci Code some time ago, then Krrish, and finally Superman Returns, I’m sure they have a lot to write about. I hardly ever watch movies, and thanks to the state government of Andhra Pradesh, the first of those is banned here. Superman is running houseful up to one week from now, and I don’t dare watch Krrish after reading Greatbong’s review. (It’s true that even Superman was proscribed by Greatbong and Careless Chronicles, but I think I won’t be able to resist watching it 3D at the IMAX). So I sat at home and watched Life Is Beautiful. I’ve never done movie reviews before (except one for my ISC English exam), and I do not want to start with a world famous classic which is a decade old. However, I couldn’t help writing about this movie as that’s the only topic that is present in my head right now.
I have been terribly tied down with all sorts of work, both in office and at home to write up a post for a week. Nothing seemed to go my way for quite some time, right from
So when I decided to see this movie, it was done more with an intention of getting some entertainment as substitute for the football match, and less for appreciating a masterpiece. Many people had been telling me this movie was good, so I chose this as a “time-pass”, as they call it. I even thought that I’ll watch half of it tonight, and the other half later. I thought I’d rather write a usual grumbling blog post about the problems of life. Only problem is, it turned out to be one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t stop that movie half way, and life suddenly started looking rather beautiful after watching it.
This 1997 Italian movie by Roberto Benigni is based in an Italian town of the late 1930s. Benigni himself plays the protagonist who is a carefree Jewish bookkeeper called Guido. In the first half of the movie, he woos and marries a beautiful schoolteacher Dora (played by Benigni’s real life wife Nicoletta Braschi) using his comical pranks, and they soon have a son. The story moves ahead to the last days of World War II when the German forces occupy
The second half of the story shows how Guido uses those silly pranks and comical imagination to keep his child happy inside the concentration camp, by convincing him that all this was an elaborate game, and the winner would win a real tank. He also manages to communicate with his wife who was in a different part of the camp. The movie ends with the Allied forces coming to the rescue.
The first half of the movie is bright and cheerful; it leaves no doubt in the viewers’ mind that it’s a comedy. The second half, on the other hand, is dark and grim. However, there are light, almost comical moments interwoven with the death and misery all around. And this is precisely what makes the movie beautiful. It shows death, but it is about life. It shows hatred, but it is about love. It is based in grim reality, but it celebrates the victory of imagination. It is a fairy tale set in the backdrop of the war.
Roberto Benigni says the title comes from a quote by Leon Trotsky. While in exile in Mexico, he saw his wife in the garden and wrote that, in spite of everything, "life is beautiful", although he knew that he was about to be killed by Stalin's assassins. I felt there couldn’t be a better title for this movie, which handles a subject such as the holocaust in such a beautiful way. True, sometimes the movie is a bit unrealistic, but that’s excusable. Also, some people say that Benigni trivialized the horrors of the Holocaust too much. I disagree. After all, one of the greatest satires on Hitler ever made, The Great Dictator, was disguised as a bigger comedy with which Life is Beautiful has a lot of similarities.
This movie made me think a lot. It made me feel that life is not what happens to us, but how we react to it. We must learn to enjoy every moment of life. It is up to us to make it beautiful. Suddenly the problems of life don’t look so menacing anymore… people have faced worse situations and survived. All of us can be happy if we want, and that’s what I want right now.PS: Italy defeated France a little while ago. I wanted France to win, although I didn't really care once Argentina was out. In any case, I can't be too unhappy about Italy winning the World Cup while I'm praising an Italian movie...