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Life is Beautiful Review by Chad
Life is Beautiful
Benigni plays Guido Orefice, a Jewish Italian bookshop owner, who employs his fertile imagination to shield his son from the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp. The film was a critical and financial success. In , in the Kingdom of Italy , Guido Orefice is a young Jewish man who arrives to work in the city Arezzo, in Tuscany where his uncle Eliseo operates a restaurant. Guido is comical and sharp, and falls in love with a girl named Dora. Later, he sees her again in the city where she is a teacher and set to be engaged to a rich, but arrogant, man, a local government official with whom Guido has regular run-ins. Guido sets up many "coincidental" incidents to show his interest in Dora. Finally, Dora sees Guido's affection and promise, and gives in, against her better judgement.
The articles that appeared in the papers bespoke of many that found even the concept of the Holocaust portrayed as a comedy to be offensive. Others believed that it belittled the experiences of the Holocaust by inferring that the horrors could be ignored by a simple game. I, too, thought, how could a comedy about the Holocaust possibly be done well? What a fine line the director Roberto Benigni was walking when portraying such a horrendous subject as a comedy. Yet I also remembered my feelings to the two volumes of Maus by Art Spiegelman - a story of the Holocaust portrayed in comic-strip format. It was months before I dared read it, and only then because it was assigned reading in one of my college classes.
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When the concentration-camp comedy Life Is Beautiful won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes last year, its director and star threw his arms around Martin Scorsese, the head of the jury. He's demonstrative, even by his own country's standards. It had the makings of an all-time cinematic disaster. A romantic comedy about the Holocaust made by an Italian gentile was to be screened at, of all places, the Jerusalem Film Festival. But Roberto Benigni's film, Life is Beautiful, has been the surprise hit of the summer, provoking a rethink of Israeli taboos. Life is Beautiful.
His look is impish. His limbs are rubber. His hair is vanishing and his face is a caricaturist's dream. So Roberto Benigni gets some of the biggest laughs in his brazen ''Life Is Beautiful'' when, impersonating a school inspector in Fascist Italy, he is asked to hold forth on why Italians are a superior race. Benigni clowns so nimbly that he gets as far as celebrating his navel before having to beat a hasty retreat from the room.