Throughout the course of history there have been events for which we are immensely proud of, and events that make us sick to our stomach. One such sickening time period was in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s during World War II when Nazi Germany strategically eliminated people of the Jewish faith. Because the events of World War II evoke such strong emotions, there have been many films made portraying the brutal carelessness for life that many Germans had. Usually these films take a completely serious approach to this issue, however Life is Beautiful does not. In 1997 Director Roberto Benigni released this movie to provide a never before seen viewpoint of the holocaust. Combining romance, comedy and tragedy, Life is Beautiful won three Oscars including best picture in 1997.
It takes place in Italy for the first half of the movie where the main character, Guido Orefice, enjoys life to its fullest in an Italian city. Through a series of romantic and humorous events he meets the love of his life and they are on the verge of living happily ever after. That is where the movie changes face and Guido and his son, both Jewish, are taken by the Nazi s. When his wife realizes what has happened, she demands to board the train to the concentration camp as well. In an effort to explain to his son what is happening to them, Guido makes up an elaborate story to satisfy his son s questions. Things appear to be improving for the family when Benigni meets a friend of his at the camp, only to find out he is a Nazi and will not help them. Then the war ends and it looks as if they can escape until Guido is captured and then killed. Thanks to Guido s ultimate sacrifice his son and wife are re-united in the end.
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Life is Beautiful was very accurate in terms of setting and costumes it used. Using bright and vivid colours at the beginning accentuated how great Guido s life was in the city, then using dull and bland colours at the concentration camp. This film evokes very strong feelings for the struggle of the main character, which would have been a similar struggle for all Jewish people at that time. It gives a true sense of what it would have been like to be simply removed from everything you know and placed into a camp where you were systematically murdered, through no fault of your own. Earlier versions of the holocaust took serious approaches, and that vantage point did not provide a completely real experience. By involving comedy and romance, two very real emotions, Life is Beautiful gives the watcher a deeper understanding of what Jews went through.
The film takes a satirical approach to the mind set of Nazi s. For instance, the main character disguises himself as a teacher and is given the task of somehow proving to children why their race, the Arian race, is superior to all others. He is dumbfounded and all he can think of is to lift up his shirt and say Of course we are better, just look at how magnificent our belly-buttons are. The film is essentially mocking the way Nazi s thought, and how completely absurd it is to consider your race superior to any other race. They also mock the way Nazi s felt they had the right to paint graffiti on Jewish property. A horse is comically spray-painted neon green with lightning bolts and stars on it and Guido eventually rides it around showing it off.
Roberto Benigni created a masterpiece which gave the viewer a strong impression of the Holocaust. Rather than stress the violence and brutality of the time, which has already been done numerous times, Benigni used a contrast between extreme happiness and extreme sadness to show what the Jews felt. Using physical comedy all the time, Benigni showed how the human spirit can conquer over the ugliness of Hitler s dominance.
History and Propaganda in the Films of Nazi Era It is obviously difficult to forget those scary times of the Nazi era. Nazis did lots of destructions and other unhealthy things back in 20th century, although it echoes on nowadays life as well, back then that was an irresistible influence from the side of the Nazis on the society that lived during the time era, on which our discussion will ...