7 months ago
An unforgettable fable that proves love, family and imagination conquer all.
I riddle you this, folks: what is a film that, though it may not seem probable, puts comedic flavor to a Holocaust setting? If you guessed Roberto Benigni’s multidimensional Academy Award-winning masterpiece Life Is Beautiful/La vita è bella (1997), you’d be correct. This marvelous movie’s humor, along with, mainly, its theme of a father-son bond will surely have a lasting impact on you and your life and make it a cinematic marvel. While watching it, one finds the film has less to do with its context of the Holocaust and more on the human feelings and the aforementioned familial aspects of life. That, my friends, is but one of the finest attributes of this film. This, along with the many emotionally outstanding scenes, of course. Both Benigni’s magnificent writing and superb acting in this film truly solidify his rightful place, in my opinion, among the greatest filmmakers of our times, if not the single greatest 20th European/Italian filmmaker bar none. The film’s realism, let’s face it, is not its strong point, but it is this lack of realism that allows the audience member to, for the full 2 hours of this film’s running time, escape their reality state of mind. The director forces you to give attention to the feelings one has when forgetting about all external events and the reality of war. Don’t get me wrong, though. Hints of Nazi propaganda and ideology are peppered throughout the movie in varying degrees. However, these two hints are not forced upon and into the viewer’s eyes and ears. And rightfully so. Lastly, and most importantly, the moral of this film’s story. Along with the film’s tagline presented above this review, Guido’s attitude and outlook in the latter stages of this film urges folks to, during tough times, try to make a lovely, exciting experience out of it for them and those around them during those tough times. Notice this review wasn’t one of my longest reviews. That is simply because all the beauty of the film truly cannot and will never be captured in writing. Simply put, Life Is Beautiful is one of the most perfect films I’ve seen in a while, and the same will apply to whomever decides to watch this film of the HIGHEST recommendation.
8 months ago
Hard, Hard movie to watch to the end. Worth it. This has been my all-time favorite movie since first seeing it randomly on cable many years ago, and it not only expanded my perceptions and emotions tapping into a part of me so deep I didn't know it was even there until the credits rolled, but it also got me (26 year old man now, was probably 21 at the time) passionately interested in the actual art of movies and storytelling. I used to have a hard time appreciating some older "classic" films, my generation wasn't exposed to much classical film variety growing up, and our attention span among other things is notoriously short compared to previous generations. This made me put down the phone. Dive in. It held my attention non-stop and I reacted to every gesture and word with passionate longing. It actually made me cry, probably more than once, for the first time in years at that time, and gave me a new found appreciation to be a living human being despite the hardships of our increasingly chaotic and rapidly changing modern world. I had never felt such new, deep emotions from a movie or anything on a screen before this. And ever since I've made it a hobby to take the time to search out classic movies, ranging from the 20's/30's Casablanca & Gone with the Wind Era to more recent cult classics like the Godfather Trilogy, The Rocky Balboa Franchise, and everything in between like The Maltese Falcon and so many more. I'd tried watching the Godfather before but couldn't get into it. I had nothing to relate to originally, at least it felt that way. It just seemed slow and drawn out and nothing like most people my age imagine the old mob life being like. I had "watched" The Maltese Falcon previously just the same with no real understanding or interest as to why it was so important and a total artistic masterpiece, But Life is Beautiful changed all of that. Suddenly I had no problem watching completely subbed foreign movies, 3 hour long well drawn out film plots that now seemed to keep me entranced and on the edge of my seat rather than confused and unattentive like before. I could now relate to people, characters, storyline, all of which I couldn't even hope to ever come close to understanding in terms of previous and future life experience, but on a purely human - fundamental- level, I understood everything now. I understood the messages the directors and writers wanted to portray scene by scene, even the somewhat hidden ones that leave people scratching their heads walking out of the theater or just not even catching that there was a hidden message, a moral, a emotion, that was put there in such a specific way as to make you really feel exactly what they are feeling, connecting with people who many are long dead now through motion photographed art, edited and converted time and time again as technology constantly advances how we watch as a general audience, and still understanding what was originally intended. Just like how with music I may suddenly find such a poetically deep and passionate song, literally out of nowhere from someone I'd never even heard of, and even if I don't like the beat or the catch or their voice or what have you, the lyrics...the delivery...the message....every so often there is a song that I am actually spiritually deja vu'd because I had no idea that someone else was making music out of the exact thoughts I've had in my head to the point it's almost creepy. Not that every classic movie gets such deep artistic messages across to me, but I can understand what the creators were trying to get at if nothing else and lots of times it can even just be a very artistically weaved generic moral like tyranny is bad and you can't give up no matter how much a tyrant tries to break you because if you hold steadfast and together, they will fall and your torment will end - justice will be had if you don't give up. Or even just treat others the same way you want to be treated because life can do anything to you on a whim and you could end up the same or worse off than the same person you were treating poorly and it's wrong to have to get some sort of cosmic and cruel karma just to understand such a basic and easy to abide by moral. You shouldn't have to make terrible fun of or bully someone who is crippled, mentally ill, or who knows what, making them feel even worse than they already do because even healthy and happy humans suffer more than I care to think about due to this other worldly lesson turned time-stretched reality we call life, so why hurt someone already hurting just because? Why not save humanity some evolution time and just skip the part where karma cripples you worse than the crippled person you made fun of for no reason and only then do you learn the lesson that everybody walks in different shoes and shouldn't be tormented just because of who they are or a condition they can't control. But Life is Beautiful is the random song that speaks to my soul through its emotion and carefully crafted lyrics as if the musician and I are spiritually brethren - or in this case the filmmaker/writer - and happen to be at the same point of spiritual human growth, despair, even fear-wracking terminal anhedonia (or at least such awful and unusually chronic anhedonia, you're worried it may never end and you will never be yourself or enjoy anything again, not like before. You're so beaten down and been asking for help from everyone from family to the government to friends and beyond, only to be completely drained of any life-giving hope that you had left and branded with a jaded view of humanity because of how much of yourself you've given for nothing just to make sure those you're loyal to are doing ok and know they are cared for and not alone, only to have the world turn upside down and when you actually have to ask and beg for help because you can't get through this situation on your own for once, all those people you were loyal too without even being asked ( not to mention the "health care professionals" who literally made an oath to help those in need and do no harm and now suddenly only maybe 1-2/10 doctors are even somewhat competent or helpful, or even seem like they actually care about doing anything not painfully redundant or sadly even straight up malicious towards you, or the government who calls you a leech for needing a minor boost to get out of a bad situation and be able to get to a point of health and sanity where working is possible again, only to be made to wait 3 years in the unbelievably toxic environment during which I actually became far more and possibly permanently disabled after developing seizures, hypothyroidism, severe carpal tunnel bordering on permanent nerve damage in both hands since my skin is too fragile to get the surgery needed and the doctors don't care about helping me fix this aspect of the hypothyroidism, just as my insurance won't cover my chronic pain issues through medication anymore but also won't let me see a pain clinic or physical therapist, and also won't cover more than the bare minimum 2 very brief tests to diagnose my seizures - the neurologist said what she would have started with will cost me thousands of pocket and may show nothing again, and that some kinds of seizure disorders can take decades to be properly diagnosed and cost tens of thousands in tests and diagnostic observations, so now i have seizures which my neurologist can't treat or actually chart in my records as legitimate seizures or even any legitimate diagnoses since I'm disabled and can't afford thousands of dollars of tests for a chance to get an answer and the insurance won't cover more than the 1 MRI & 60 min EEG they did years ago which my neurologist said she knew would show nothing because even many bad Grand Mal patients usually require a 24 hour observational EEG for a positive identification and its obvious seizures are a more obscure and difficult to diagnose form of probable epilepsy since there are so many different kinds that all do different things and affect different areas of the brain, besides offering a random broad spectrum anti epileptic which was a literal shot in the dark and caused more side effects than benefits, just to be turned down and told I was an idiot for not having a lawyer and that people never get approved without legal help even if they're dying, my seizures are technically not even counted necessarily towards deciding if I'm eligible for SSI since I don't have a "proper" diagnoses beyond theories by my Neurologist despite my well documented symptoms and visits to ER's, doctors, specialists, urgent care etc and despite literally being unable to diagnose them at all apparently due to being broke, disabled, and dumped in the trash by my insurance every time I need them, so now 3 years went by for literally nothing and now i have to do it all over again with a lawyer this time which is difficult to handle mentally because they require a lot of work and mental acuity and perseverance/motivation, and did I mention lots of paperwork which I can't do myself at this point at least not at any rate that will help in the allotted amount of time due to my carpal tunnel getting so bad my surgeon says if I don't get both hands surgically treated soon I could lose most function in both hands permanently and have pain/numbness/etc except she won't do the surgery as long as my skin is so brittle and thin and slow to heal that I literally always have either open or healing lesions on both arms and every time they're about healed to her satisfaction then I get told it'll be a month till the surgery and then in the meantime my lesions end up cracking open and can't get the surgery again, but if I go to someone else it won't be covered and I can't afford the insane prices to save my own hands, so am desperately praying at the very least I make it out of this house alive because part of the reason we assume I've gotten so sick while waiting years for my SSI trial is because there's mold in my bathroom and room and only those rooms, but my grandparents own the house and are the only ones who can afford fixing it and won't, and are also going into dementia while making my already crazy stressful family literally insane and borderlined lying sociopathic and malicious strangers whom I would be homeless without and am under such constant stress and so much bad luck via doctors, bad med reactions, insurance, the government, family or friends ghosting me or lying to me or trapping me in a situation worse than the one I originally begged for help to get out of that I have no faith in anyone anymore and will be lucky to survive till 30 after being the literal epitome of health until the age of 20, and now my dying 80yrold grandmother says I have worse luck than anyone she's ever met, is on less medications than me despite having kidney failure, heart failure, pain, etc etc, and can actually do more than me some days because with no one caring about properly treating my hypothyroidism I can't wake up long enough to even take meds that cause withdrawals if I forget them and sometimes spend days in bed too tired to sit up to drink water or go to the bathroom, all while being called the leech when I never wanted SSI to be a temporary step up so I could gain the independence i apparently need much worse than originally thought, and get to the point of being a productive member of society again and paying my own way by now, and now I am scared I'm going to die before I even get approved for what is essentially not even enough to live on per month unless I find an amazing deal or some really good roommates, and am being told that I have to have a lawyer who takes 25% of my money for basically doing nothing but greasing the judges hand or so I'm told around here, when I could already be better and on my own but instead might permanently be stuck on SSI at the age of 26, assuming I live that long to get approved, literally wasting infinitely more money, time, spiritual shatterment, and dignity, because they wanted to make sure I wasn't "a leech", while literally turning me into a leech because they'd rather spend 3 years debating about my situation and not caring I'm getting sicker each year than just approve me once they realized I had seizures & hypothyroidism and definitely couldn't work now, but instead now I have to attempt to go through the process again and wait another potential 3 years at which point I could have heart failure, kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, nonstop stress and doctors+insurance that literally don't care if they accidentally kill you while living in a moldy house i can't escape without being even more destitute & completely homeless and alone with no friends in an area I agreed to move to because i was told I'd get help only to be trapped here once I couldn't move back to my hometown due to gentrification, and am now completely at the mercy of every single person and entity who I not only don't trust with an ounce of my being after what's happened to me since moving here alone, not including previous life experiences, but who I literally loathe and am developing actual hatred for due to all of their blatant lies and disregard for my health, life, feelings, or the truth, and all of whom in some way or another have sworn to help me whether in their title or literally to my face like my parents and old friends. Life is beautiful but I wish I could live it instead of being vicarious. I'd rather live in a hut on a micro farm than ever watch another screen again in my life. 4 years straight of staring at screens every day nonstop from sickness and isolation, totally by myself 99% of the time and only 1% of the time with my parents who I'm pretty sure would rather get one more year of college under their belts now rather than work or do anything to keep their promise even in the most skeletal sense of the word, to the point if I do end up dying before I'm out of this house I'm pretty sure I'd be blamed for it, or they'd tell themselves there was nothing they could do because they had to take 4 years each to go to school and work out their marriage which had already been worked on for 10 miserable years to no success, when I was the one who was supposed to be in college but had to quit 3 terms in due to brain damage and failing my first class in my life and not having the money for my student loan debt, only to have my parents getting their Associates degrees and moving to universities and telling me they can do what they want and even though everyone of us has threatened suicide as far back as 1 year post-move, more than 3 scary scary scary years later they still say saving money and going to school and not working is more important for everybody. Funny that some 55 year Olds literally stole my dream and won't even acknowledge the promises made to one another despite their acknowledgment of the house killing me, the doctors accelerating the process, and the fact that I might be permanently disabled physically and mentally for life due to their inability to even keep a single promise after spending most of my life raising myself and my elder autistic sister and dealing with all my problems on my own, literally never having a healthy or positive environment to live in since i was between 10 and 14 years old while also dealing with public school after homeschooling till I was 12, and getting pushed into fights, pressured into drugs, etc, all by myself to the point I recovered myself from an Ecstasy addiction lasting years because it took my mother 3 years to actually acknowledge me telling her I was addicted and needed help and by the time she even cared enough to discuss the situation I'd gotten myself clean out of sheer will power and disgust for how much her and my father destroy eachother and yet only focus on eachother, unless my mother is "done", in which case she pretends like it's me and her no matter what and even if they divorce she'll get me out of here and won't leave me behind since my father is so chronically unemployed since I was 14 that it is hard for me to not hit him when he complains about not getting enough vacations since moving here when I've had 1 that was a nightmare and they've had over a dozen at least among other actual transgressions against me (after a 4 year golf business he owned tanked, after 20+ years in the airforce with no problems at all) but then abandons me while visiting friends in another state saying she's separating my dad and can't take me but I should go to the mental hospital instead of staying here because it'd probably be healthier than living here without her....the 2nd time she suggested the mental hospital first thing because she didn't want to even try to help me figure out a real option, she'd rather have me drugged and drooling and unable to even focus on my SSI at all and be even more dependent on them despite them letting me know whenever they don't like what I'm saying that they can make me homeless whenever they want. At least if I die I can appreciate this movie if nothing else, and the equivalent songs which also speak to my ghostly and rapidly disappearing soul. Watch this movie!