Monday, January 24, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday

Since we’re on the border between “life” month and “love” month, appropriate that they live close enough to hold hands since they go hand-in-hand, I want to share about a movie that gives us both. Aptly titled, it’s Life is Beautiful.

This Italian movie released in 1997. Yes, I said Italian. The main reason you might have missed it accidentally on purpose – it’s subtitled because it’s all in Italian.

But I’m here to implore you not to let that deter you from this foreign film. I’m by no means a foreign film connoisseur, there are very few that I watch let alone like.

This one is a treasure.

It’s pretty much divided into two parts. The first half introduces us to the main character, Guido, a waiter and a crack-up. He is so funny, like fall off your chair funny. The humor does not get lost in translation, his antics alone enough to keep you rolling. In the coarse of his waiting tables, he sees the woman of his dreams and attempts to win her.

The second half starts several years into Guido and his bride’s marriage, introducing us to their son. They seem to have a nice life. Quickly, though, the dream becomes a nightmare when the Nazis move into town. Guido is Jewish, and therefore is targeted, arrested, and along with both his wife and son, taken to a concentration camp.

The rest of the story shows us how he protects his son throughout their horrifying ordeal. Although a shade of humor remains, this film elicits other strong emotions that are far from funny.

I like Life is Beautiful because it’s a masterful blend of writing, acting, music, and cinematography. It makes me laugh while also reminding me, in a stark yet not graphic visual, the value of a life and a time in history when that value was forgotten in a very public way. It inspires me to appreciate my family and friends, to hug their necks as much as possible. It’s also a different but beautiful love story.

Life is Beautiful garnered many awards. Roberto Benigni won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Guido – you might recall highlight reels of his exuberant jumping over the backs of theatre chairs to make his way up to the stage to accept his award – but he was nominated for directing the film as well. The movie won Best Foreign Film too, though it was also up for Best Picture, which is a notable feat for a foreign film.

So, this week, as we celebrate both life and love, I challenge you to step outside your box, the one that prohibits foreign, subtitled films, and treat yourself to this amazing story, Life is Beautiful.

(photos by


lynnrush said...

I think I remember this movie. I never saw it, though. Not a fan of subtitles. Thanks for the review. :)