Life is Beautiful – Movies Can’t Get Better Than This

(Recommended by SI Blog reader VJ Cool & Ganesh)

Indian thieving swines can’t make movies.

Now, repeat that after us a million times.

We just finished watching the 1997 Italian film La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful).

Completely swept away.

That’s what we were by the sheer beauty of the film.

Directed by Roberto Benigni (who also plays the lead character Guido), Life is Beautiful is a brilliant tragicomedy, the likes of which come along once in two decades at best.

And the kind of classy movie, our Indian schmucks can’t imagine putting out in a million years.

Set in Italy of 1939, Life is Beautiful starts off as just another funny foreign movie but midway veers off in a different direction and ends as one of the great tragicomedies in motion picture history.

It’s after Guido, his young son, wife and uncle are carted off to a Nazi Concentration Camp (because they’re Jews) that the movie comes into its own.

We won’t tell you the details lest we spoil your joy but Guido launches one of the first amusing and tragic games farces in the concentration camp.

Pitted as Guido and his camp-mates are against a brutal, murderous regime you know it’s ultimately not going to end well but yet can’t help getting up caught up in the game.

Roberto Benigni, who plays first a waiter, then a bookshop owner and finally a Nazi concentration camp inmate is an extraordinary actor who animates the screen with his presence.

Fittingly, he’s often described as Italy’s ‘National Treasure.’

Roberto Benigni’s real-life wife Nicoletta Braschi, who plays his beloved ‘Princessa’ and wife Dora, is most certainly not a bad actress herself but no match for Roberto in the acting department.

Young Giorgio Cantarini, playing Giosuè the boy, steals our heart with his expressive face and gestures. Should we credit him or the director Roberto Benigni for extracting a fine performance from the young kid?

The pleasing soundtrack by Nicola Piovani is the icing on this beautiful cake.

In a movie that oozes class throughout, it’s hard to highlight a few scenes. Still, we must acknowledge that the scene at the train station, the initial moments in the large room of the concentration camp filled with bunker-beds for the prisoners when the game is launched and the final moments as Guido entertains his young son one last time are for the ages.

Naturalmente, a movie as charming as Life is Beautiful has picked up awards galore at most film festivals including the Oscars (3), Cannes (Grand Prize of the Jury) and far more than we can recount here.

The DVD of this brilliant Italian film with English subtitles is available at Netflix and most county libraries in the U.S.

Related Posts
Video of Roberto Benigni Winning the Oscar at the 71st Academy Awards

34 Responses to "Life is Beautiful – Movies Can’t Get Better Than This"

  1. abhi220   July 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    This is a fairly small review for such a beautiful movie considering the fact that you come up with 2/3 pages for movies like Singam.

    The final moments are indeed heartwarming.

    You should watch The Pianist too. Just like ‘Life is Beautiful’ it had also won 3 Oscars, Cannes (Palme d’Or) and numerous other awards.
    I am surprised that a lot of fellow members here have not seen it yet.

    Why bother to watch bollywood/kollywood/tollywood movies on DVD/NETFLIX when you have plenty left to watch. Responds:

    1. You write: This is a fairly small review for such a beautiful movie considering the fact that you come up with 2/3 pages for movies like Singam.

    Despite what the spam e-mails (increase your *enis size), small is beautiful. 😉

    2. Pianist? Soon!

    • Twig   July 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm

      This was my fourth English movie I watched (which I did it in my 2nd semester of my engineering life, 4.5 year back)
      and the first to watch it in a computer ( my own, a heavy desktop with CRT monitor – movie downloaded from
      campus LAN). The others being (Titanic, ET, HP-2). I watched it just before my mid terms.
      So, you can imagine how my mid terms went.

      I was so mesmerized by the brilliance, the beauty, the art, the humanity it took me quite a while to come out of the hangover (or say the aftereffects).

      And to Roberto Benigni and Nicola Piovani – I will take my imaginary hats off for you both.

      As time passed by, though it’s still a worthy movie I watched a close to me (because I watched it on my own
      computer, kid) I think I have seen so many wonderful movies than this. Frankly, I can’t get out of Amelie still. Responds:

      One key difference between Life is Beautiful and Amelie is that the photography in Amelie was kind of magic while the story is more moving/gripping in Life is Beautiful.

      It’s harder to pull off a tragicomedy like Life is Beautiful than a Amelie because of the sensitive issue of the Jews fate in the Concentration Camps. Bringing humor to that subject is no easy task. That said, Audrey Tautou is a fine actress.

      We watched Amelie just about a week back (U.S. readers: your library definitely has it).

      • Twig   July 28, 2011 at 10:51 pm

        One sentence review of the Piano.
        Nazi Cruelty. Fredrick Chopin. Szpilman Piano. Adrian broady’s awesome nose.

        I wish I had a nose like that 🙂 Responds:

        Pianist review? Coming Soon.

      • Filmlover   July 29, 2011 at 3:29 am

        @ Twig, for your information, Life is beautiful isn’t english movie, it was Italian. This film won three Academy awards including Best Foreign Picture. What you have seen was dubbed version. However, i am glad you liked this masterpiece movie

    • Ganesh Kumar   August 4, 2011 at 10:24 am

      Pianist is heart-wrenching.An excellent film,with some good Piano pieces played in the background too.

  2. Naveen   July 29, 2011 at 1:27 am

    I saw Life is Beautiful long time ago when it was released. I could not appreciate it much at that time cos I was more into Commando, True Lies kind of movies. I do recall the last couple of scenes… it moved me.

  3. முனிAndy   July 29, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Watched it after his Oscar antics.

    Was left underwhelmed.

    I thought he was a glorified Vadivelu. IMO, overrated movie. Watching again may make me change my view, but not planning to watch again. Responds:

    You write: I thought he was a glorified Vadivelu.

    Are there no limits to writing scribbling nonsense?

    Please don’t respond. That was merely a rhetorical question.

    • முனிAndy   August 2, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      Vadivelu’s Benigni’s Pinocchio is polarizing people on NFLX IP.. are you well enough to give it a whirl? OH, RT’s rating is 0%. Must be pretty awesome! 🙂 Responds:

      Yes, both Pinocchio and Benigni’s subsequent The Tiger and the Snow failed to charm the critics. But The Tiger and the Snow did better with the audience (84% liked it) compared to Pinocchio (36%).

      We plan to watch (and maybe review) the two films soon.

      But Benigni’s Life is Beautiful is still a very respectable #65 on IMDB’s Top-250 (as of Aug. 2, 2011).

    • முனிAndy   August 3, 2011 at 11:18 pm

      Now, if we hit the like/dislike, it wouldn’t tell us if we liked the comment or SI’s reply to the comment.. Responds:

      You are right.

      By default you can assume the ‘Like’ was for the SI response. 😉

      • boopalanj   August 4, 2011 at 2:15 am

        May be, SI should login and reply like we all do, instead of editing our responses. Then we would know whether SI’s reply was liked or disliked 😉

        There is a possibility that SI’s comments getting disliked in vast numbers by fan boys of Vikram and Vijay 😉 But then, SI will search for the option of moderating Like / Dislike votes too 🙂 Responds:

        We don’t think we can moderate the Like/Dislike Votes. Even we can’t vote more than once.

        • boopalanj   August 4, 2011 at 2:19 am

          Hey SI, why don’t you display the ‘Hits’ for SI site? You have a widget in wordpress admin panel for that. We’ll understand how many visit a site that we all are part of.


          Is there a strongly dislike plugin/widget so that we can click it for this comment. 😉

          BTW, do you have a blog too?

          • boopalanj   August 4, 2011 at 9:25 am

            Why dislike? 🙁


            Just kidding!

          • boopalanj   August 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm

            Strongly disagree with hiding of comments 🙁


            What u talkin bout?

            No understanding.

          • boopalanj   August 4, 2011 at 2:53 pm

            WordPress hides comments with many dislikes 🙁 [Refer the comment above.]


            It doesn’t completely hide it. Makes it opaque and still lets you see it when you click on Click here to see.

            Has nothing to do with us. It’s the plugin.

            We have just increased the threshold to 4 before a comment becomes opaque/hidden.

          • boopalanj   August 4, 2011 at 3:09 pm

            You’ve increased the threshold to 4, and then the dislikes for that comment went to 4 from 3 😀


            You must have clicked on ‘Dislike’ yourself to gain some sympathy from your wife/son/girlfriend/naikutty/poonaikutty/elikutty.

          • boopalanj   August 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

            I currently have “None of the above.” 🙁

            May be, SI does it from 2 laptops + 2 iPhones, with different IPs?


            Not us.

          • முனிAndy   August 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm

            😆 Boop’s got the dubious distinction of getting a comment hidden due to poor rating.. I think all disagrees were put in by SI.


            No, even SI can’t vote more than once.

            Boopalan likely has many hidden enemies, maybe within his ‘friends’ and ‘family.’

          • boopalanj   August 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm

            And who disliked andy’s comment? 😀 May be one of those enemies of mine? [Will this be disliked too? 😉 ]


            People living in NC have frenemies!

        • boopalanj   August 4, 2011 at 5:43 am

          Off topic: Read the tehelka’s story on Azhagiri – godfather of the temple town.

          I was also reading stories about him in the other tamil investigative journals. Disgusting & Terrifying, to hear what all he and his henchmen had done in Tamilnadu.


          Please mention that beast’s name only when they drape a garland around his photo. 🙁

          Although informative, the article in your above link does not focus much on the criminal aspect of their activities like the attack on Dinakaran paper in which several people lost their lives.

          • boopalanj   August 4, 2011 at 3:05 pm

            OT: There was a cover-story last week in two magazines – on his henchmen ( this event is about SR Gopi). A guy called Pandiyarajan in Madurai, allowed Communist party to set up a poll booth on his place, despite warnings from Azhagiri’s goons that no one should give place for parties other than DMK.

            He was threatened, and since he did not obey, they had taken him in car to some place where he was beaten to near-death state, and since it would become an issue during polls, they had mowed him down with a Bolero to silence it permanently.



  4. abhi220   July 29, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Hey guys… Please suggest some nice movies (hollyood/foreign/any genre(except the one’s with King and Queens. 🙂 ). Responds:

    Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp).

    • abhi220   July 29, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      The only reason I haven’t watched it yet is the movie being musical. I don’t enjoy watching his movies either even though many (including you) might disagree.

      I could not stand his antics from the second in Pirates of the Caribbean series onwards. Compared to the other legends in hollywood he is overrated who is yet to give a masterpiece. Responds:

      1. You write: I could not stand his antics from the second in Pirates of the Caribbean series onwards.

      This is a non-Piratish movie. Try it

      BTW, Johnny Depp got an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for Sweeney Todd at the 80th Academy Awards.

      2. You write: The only reason I haven’t watched it yet is the movie being musical.

      And you call yourself an Indian. Shame!

      • முனிAndy   July 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm

        Sweeney Todd was great.

        My advice would be to watch it with a good surround system and immerse in the music..

        Wouldn’t be a worthwhile watch on a PC.

        • abhi220   July 29, 2011 at 2:07 pm

          Thanks. Settings look marvelous in the trailer. I would definitely watch it tonight or tomorrow.

          It’s hard to find Blu-rays anymore since the nearest blockbuster is now closed.

          I have a 5.1 surround and a good display too. Suggestions from all around for Sweeny Todd.

          This is just one movie and we have a long weekend here. Keep ’em coming guys.


          I Saw the Devil, Chaser, Tell No One, Gran Torino, Biutiful, Match Point, Midnight in Paris, Avalude Ravvakal, Chatharathil Oru Rathiri ……

          • abhi220   July 29, 2011 at 3:17 pm

            Thanks. Biutiful and Midnight in Paris are the only two which I haven’t seen. Just like you, I love Korean movies.

            You should try to watch Memories of Murder. Kang-ho Song (Weird in Good, Bad and the Weird).

            Here is a link to some fine Korean actors. Even Korea is gifted when it comes to acting department compared to my/our huge country.

            Midnight in Paris is still running in theaters and I would not be able convince my friends to come along. They would go, ‘Woody who??’ I know, their taste sucks. Hope they are not reading this. :D.

            Would watch Biutiful. Javier Bardem is one of the finest actors. Watch Sea Inside to really see what he can do.

            Avalude Ravukal?? Hilarious..
            In case you don’t know the meaning, it is ‘Her Nights’. No one can come up with a better name. 🙂


            1. Chatarathil Oru Rathiri?

            Heard it’s a famous Malayalam devotional film. 😉

            2, You write: Midnight in Paris is still running in theaters and I would not be able convince my friends to come along. They would go, ‘Woody who??

            Midnight in Paris is a class act. Screw the friends schmucks and watch it.

            92% on Rotten Tomatoes and people still ask Woody who?

            What nonsense!

            BTW, Midnight in Paris is not Woody’s first film….the fella has been making films since the dinosaurs ruled the earth.

          • tiramisu   August 3, 2011 at 10:34 pm

            Second that…Javier Bardem is one of the finest actors today. But I also guess it’s takes someone like Alexandro Gonzalez-inarritu or the Coen’s to come up something perfect for Javier Bardem.

            I noticed that Alexandro was mentioned in the title creds in the recent tamil movie Aadukalam.

  5. filumlover   July 29, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    One of my favorite Italian films along with 81/2, Bicycle Thieves. Lovely.

    BTW I agree, Sweeny Todd was great. Took a while to get things going, but once it started, then it got better and better as the movie progressed.

    • abhi220   July 29, 2011 at 2:09 pm

      Hey, thanks.. Already seen both.

      Looking forward to Sweeny Todd.

  6. Ganesh Kumar   August 4, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I think I asked you to review this film,a few months ago! :O Responds:

    Indeed you did last year!

    Added your name to to the ‘Recommended by’ at the top.

    • Ganesh Kumar   August 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      Thanks. 😛

  7. abhi220   August 4, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Why don’t you take out ‘Like or Dislike:’? It might look better without it.

    • abhi220   August 4, 2011 at 11:54 am

      I knew this would be your answer.

      • முனிAndy   August 4, 2011 at 1:19 pm

        Why don’t we have two middle fingers with gusto instead of thumbs down.

        ┌∩┐(◣_◢)┌∩┐ Responds:

        Ideally, we should have two images: Trisha (dislike) and Jennifer Lawrence (adore)!

  8. abhi220   October 3, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Seen this?
    Guy is just amazing.. Responds:

    Yes. Seen it a few times before.

    The link is at the end of the review (above) under Related Posts.

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