Anyone who has ever made or seen a Holocaust film knows that the subject is not an easy one, for both the film makers and audience.
In 1997, a new twist was put on the genre with Life Is Beautiful.
Guido (Robert Benigni) falls in love with Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), a woman outside of his station and his religion. Dora and Guido marry and live what appears to be a happily ever after. The product of their marriage is their son, Joshua (Giorgio Cantarini). All is perfect until the Nazis invade Italy. Guido, Dora and Joshua are deported to the concentration camps with the rest of the Jews in their town. Separated from Dora, Guido keeps his son alive and safe (as safe as a Jewish child can be in a Nazi concentration camp) by playing a game. The prize to be won is a tank. Will Guido and his family survive or will his game and his son be discovered?
At the time of the film’s release, many historians and survivors criticized the film, mostly for being historically inaccurate. While that is true, what shines through for me in this film is a father’s love for his child and the lengths that he will go through to protect his son.
Do I recommend it? Yes.