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Life is Beautiful DVD

Life is Beautiful DVDStarring: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, et al.
Director: Roberto Benigni
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jprufacre@aol.com's Review

What kind of place is this? It's beautiful

Let me just start by saying that normally I'm the last person who would ever fill out one of these things. Secondly, I normally see a movie twice at most, three or four times if it's truly exquisite. I saw "Life is Beautiful" 14 times. Steven Spielberg et al have unmitigated gall to castigate this movie for not being realistic enough when every Holocaust survivor whose opinion I've read has praised it. Neither the title nor the point of this film is "Concentration Camps are Beautiful," or "Concentration Camps are Funny," or anything of the sort. The point is that love and beauty and humor can, and do, stay intact even in the dankest depths of the human experience. To say that this movie makes light of the Holocaust is ridiculous in that such a beacon of joy and love in the person of Benigni's character was flicked off, horrifically, indiscriminately, without even a shadow of tribute it deserved. The single tree of his death reflected the Black Forest of the Holocaust in the same way that his legacy, carried on in his son and wife, represents the spirit of Holocaust survivors and their families. The fact that such an artist and scholar of the Holocaust as Spielberg couldn't grasp this concept greatly disappoints me. The only legitimate philosophical quibble with this movie would derive from the viewpoint that the joy of the human spirit cannot rise above its horrors. Not a view I agree with, but a case could be made for that thesis.

In short, this movie captures both the horrors and the triumphs of the human experience better than anything else I've ever seen. Viewers who are so short-sighted as to call it unrealistic need some serious development in their abstract thinking.

From Amazon.com

Amazon.com Editorial Review

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 U.S. 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 humor 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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