I never saw myself smile or laugh while watching a film about a tragic historic event that affected so many lives. With Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful, a film about a Jewish Italian waiter (Guido) who falls in love with a women, eventually they marry and have a son (Giosue) . Then in turn of events the family is separated from each other and taken to concentration camps. The father focused to protect his son from the horrors of reality, he convinces his son that it is only a game and everyone is playing along. the film is set against the tragic backdrop of the Holocaust, but doesn’t focus on the tragedy. Benigni uses comedic elements, antics and humorous interactions, and physical gestures to bring comedy to the dark event.
Benigni use of noticeable physical gestures, humorous interactions, and antics. Benigni starts the first half of the film more lighthearted and romantic between two characters who eventually fall in love. But the audience is soon reminded that this movie is set in a tragedy under Mussolini and Nazi power.
The first comedic strategy Benigni uses is the interactions Guido has with his son Giosue, who doesn’t understand what’s happening around him. Benigni takes advantage of this and uses the knowledge of a child for comedic purposes. For example in the film, upon arriving at the prison camp, Giosue is confused why so many people are lined up, the father Guido explains that everyone is lined up because they can’t wait to get inside. Benigni is using the interactions between a son and father to express comedy in very tense situations in the film/
Another comedic strategy Benigni uses is Guido’s physical gestures throughout the film. Throughout the film Guido performs a goofy walk while being escorted by any Nazi solider. Guido performs this goofy walk because he knows his son is watching him. Guido needs to act funny to show his son that the situation isn’t serious. There are many physical gestures throughout the film that bring light to the situation.
Life is Beautiful is the perfect example of comedy because it focuses on bringing the Holocaust a very dark event in history into the light with comedic strategies.
3 thoughts on “Life Is Beautiful”
Do you think this movie fits the definition of comedy given its ending? I don’t think that Guido being executed and the son having to go on without a paternal figure is considered a happy ending, even though Guido convinces the child that its all just a game.
This is was an excellent topic to pick! I can’t imagine the difficulties Benigni was faced with as he created this film. To take such a serious and difficult topic, and add humor and light to it, is very impressive. The fact that Guido always appeared to be optimistic and comedic for the sake of son, shows a very deep level of sacrifice and devotion. Nice job touching on both the entertaining and serious aspects of this movie!
This movie is one of my favorites. Now, looking back on it, I realize that there was some satire used to lighten the mood of the horrific story. I enjoyed how you mentioned the comedic relief but also the seriousness of the film, well done!