Sunday, November 3, 2013

Life Is Beautiful - Movie Review

I watched this movie in the theatres several years ago. But that was a time when movies were fun and there was much more to life than stories, history and characters. Now when I see the movies I see the way its been crafted and the story told, the background, the challenge and I wonder at the grand intentions behind them that the director is trying to get across. Life is beautiful is certainly one of those movies that has grown several notches in the recent viewing.

An exuberant, intelligent, impulsive, funny and energetic Italian Jew Guido, who goes to work with his indulgent and wise uncle falls in love with a young lady, marries her and has a lovely young boy. But then comes the World War and the Germans take all the Jews away to concentration camps - the waiter turned bookseller Guido and his son included. His wife follows them to the concentration camp though she is not required to being a non-Jew. How the funny man keeps the spirits of his son up by making up stories, taking audacious risks and somehow saving him from the gas chambers until they find relief makes up the story.

The character is brilliant and is elevated by Roberto Benigni's stunning performance as the father who has to use all his creativity and energy to save his son by creating an illusory game. The danger is now all the more larger to me since I have seen and read stuff about the concentration camps. Somehow you want Guido to survive, to escape and bring more light and joy to this world and pray hard for the happy ending. But despite the comedy, the drama and the tragedy, its is to me a love story. Love is shown in a form that is so beautiful, passion so pure - turning the stereo so his dear Dora can hear some of her beloved classical music, using an unmanned mike to declare his love for his Princess over the concentration camps public address system, bringing the one piece of bread for his young son after breaking his back at work all day, indulging the young kid in a situation so hopeless that all one can do is shake one's head in despair, running off impatiently even as the others indicate that perhaps the war has come to an end, the arrival of the real tank at the end - oh, its beautiful and seriously like nothing I have seen.

Who thought up this character? (I read somewhere that the story is inspired by Benigni's real life - his father spent three years in a concentration camp before Benigni was born.)
Brilliant. Even if you watched it once, watch it again.

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