La Vita E Bella


Showered with awards from festivals around the world, including the Grand Jury prize at Cannes, La Vita E Bella (Life Is Beautiful) is a highly dubious Holocaust comedy, written and directed by Italian joker Roberto Benigni.

It begins as a fairytale love story, involving clowning Jewish waiter Guido (played by Benigni) and the schoolteacher (Nicoletta Braschi) who he successfully woos in a '30s Tuscan town. They subsequently marry and have a child, Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini). But several years later, during the Second World War, the family are deported to a concentration camp where Guido convinces his young son that the brutal conditions and the screaming guards are part of a big game.

What we're left with is a fable rather than a fragment of historical realism, presumably intended as a tribute to the power and imagination of humour in deepest adversity - and while the ink-black humour that soaks this overlong work will strike a chord with some, Benigni's comic routines become irksome rather than endearing. Also, the cloying sentimentality isn't successfully held at bay and the inevitable consequence is that La Vita E Bella trivialises the suffering of Holocaust victims.

Film Details

  • PG
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: February 12th 1999

User Reviews

    • ColouredPurple

      Dec 28th 2009, 1:13

      I'm very surprised to find this. I watched this when I was young and remember really liking it. It's also been showered with awards so I never doubted it's greatness. Either you don't get the Italians or history hasn't been kind to the movie. Intriguing. I should re-watch this and judge for myself.

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    • randombloke2002

      Jan 9th 2011, 19:03

      Did this reviewer even watch the same film? It's hard to believe anyone could dislike La vita è bella. The cinematography, the music, the acting performances are all top notch and the story -- although very far fetched -- is as touching and sad, and unflinching, as it is warm and life affirming. This is essential cinema and unlike any other film I have ever seen, or am likely to see again.

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    • sevdamm

      Feb 5th 2011, 0:13

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    • smith234

      Feb 15th 2011, 9:44

      What we're left with is a fable rather than a fragment of historical realism, presumably intended as a tribute to the power and imagination of humour in deepest adversity loan modification

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    • Sheeelashela

      Feb 18th 2011, 8:54


      Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch! lasik eye surgery

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