Why Life is Beautiful (La Vita è Bella) is one of my favorite WW2 films of all time.

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Avatar for LordKingPotato
10 months ago

I love watching war films, especially those historical ones. Of course, not all of them are accurate but it still is interesting to catch a glimpse of the struggles and triumphs of those great men and women. Most common storyline for the war films I've watched emphasized on the valiance of an individual or a group of individuals in a particular chaotic situation in their timeline. Sometimes I wonder what would happen to me in case I was born in those era. Well, I do not want to be hero or someone who stands out. Most heroes became heroes because they needed to sacrifice themselves and obviously a lot of them were short-lived. I don't want that. For me just being a bystander who live his life to the fullest would already be considered as a victory given the supposedly tumultuous period I have to live in.

Life is Beautiful ( La vita è bella ) is unique even amongst war movies. It's not about being valiant to save the motherland from an oppressor rather it's a personal struggle of the protagonist to retain his positive attitude even amidst the lurking dangers around him and his family. Actually, the first half of the film is more of a romantic-comedy because of the protagonist ingenuity to pursue his princess Dora.

The overly optimistic Guido Orefice reminded me of The Three Stooges and Mr. Bean because of the kind of humor he had. It's very instinctive. The comedy in my opinion was just okay I'd rate it at 7/10, maybe a 8/10 if we consider the classic setting. It's good but not to the point that I would consider it as exceptional. For me a good comedy is when I remember it, and an exceptional one is when it makes me laugh again just from memory. The two egg scenes with Dora's fiancé was quite remarkable, especially that Ostrich egg scene when he finally realized the waiter's identity. The other comedy scenes in the first half was quite on the generic side for me.

Although the first half was pre-dominantly for laughs we couldn't miss those dark details in some scenes and conversations. It's almost the dawn of the Holocaust and there were different sentiments floating around. When Guido posed as the Inspector of Rome visiting the school where Dora teaches we'd see how strict the principal was. Aside from reminding the students to be prim and proper she often emphasized the superiority of their race even telling it to Guido upfront. That's dark because we know Guido is a Jew which was considered as a minor or lesser race. Another uncomfortable scene for me would be the dining table conversation during the engagement party. It was the principal again who felt very frustrated about a certain third grade math problem which goes like this:

"A lunatic costs the state 4 marks a day, a cripple 4 and a half marks and an epileptic 3 and a half marks. Considering the average is 4 marks a day and there are 300,000 patients, how much would the State saves if these individuals were eliminated?"

This scene actually represented the different views of the people in Italian high society during those times. One side was Dora which said that she couldn't believe it because of the cruel nature of the math problem and on the other side which was the Madam which also stated that she also couldn't believe it albeit due to it's technical difficulty for a seven year old child. Also, she mentioned that the German kids are solving the problem in their land adding with awe that, they are truly a different race. Coming from someone who viewed her race as a superior one it was a subtle implication that she was subservient to Germans. It's like a small representation of the relationship between Adolf and Benito.

The second half made the movie more dynamic as the atmosphere took a 180 degree turn. Dora's choice to board the train meant a lot. For me at least it implies that even amongst the superior races there were still those that remained human. On the other hand, positivity never left Guido but it's different now. If in the first half he was once a lamp that could light an entire room, in the second half he was merely a burning matchstick waiting to be extinguished. In the entire movie despair was never seen in his eyes but I doubt that he couldn't feel it. It's his fear of losing his son and wife that prevented him from showing that very fear.

Guido's German translation is one of my favorite scene. It seems like the translation was very on spot because of the gestures and the confidence in his speech. It's a very entertaining part. His antics and creativeness was very consistent and thanks to that he managed to save his son. Well, if he didn't bother to check on his wife he would have lived but that would put a crack on his character. In the end he died but he was victorious because the people treasure the most was saved. Thanks to him never giving up.

I read that this film is loosely based on a true story and I admire to whoever this story belongs to. The film was quite complicated because of the sudden shift of moods and it has a bitter sweet ending nonetheless I truly enjoyed this one. It's something that I would remember even after many years.

Thank you for reading have a great day.

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Avatar for LordKingPotato
10 months ago