Life Is Beautiful (Movie Review)

In the past week I have been writing a post about how you can increase the fun in your life by being more playful. I haven’t finished the article yet, but when I saw “Life is Beautiful” (La Vita è Bella) yesterday night, I found this movie the perfect illustration.

What a movie! From the very first moment it draws you in, irresistably, and you immediately feel what this film is about: life. Later, I checked the IMDB rating and with 8.6/10 it definitely belongs to the top movies of all time. It won first prize at the 1998 Cannes Film festival and received 3 Oscars in 1999, i.e. for best foreign film, best actor (Roberto Benigni) and best original dramatic score.

The reason that I included this movie here is the fact that it explores, no doubt unintendedly, a well known spiritual theme, i.e. how we create and can change our reality. It even offers beautiful and funny examples of synchronicity and why we shouldn’t take life too serious. I am sure that Abraham-Hicks would endorse this film.

A story about changing realities by playing

The movie tells the story of Guido, a care free young Italian Jew in prewar Italy, who doesn’t seem to take life very serious. He constantly plays around, making fun of everyone, himself included, but especially the people in authority.

In the very first scene the tone for the first half of the movie is set when Guido and his friend, on their way to Arezzo where Guido wants to start a bookshop, encounter a small problem when the breaks of their car no longer work and they speed down the hill into a small village where people are waiting on the road to welcome a high ranking official. Guido is frantically waving them aside but to the people it appears that he is the official, waving to them in Nazi fashion. You cannot help yourself from smiling and this is only the beginning of the movie.

When they finally stop and repair the car Guido strolls to a house to wash his hands and meets a little girl to which he jokingly presents himself as Prince Guido, who owns all the land you can see around. When Guido says he has to leave to meet his Princess, right at that moment a young woman, Dora, falls from the first floor of the house (metaphorically from heaven) in his arms. For Guido it is love at first sight and he calls her his Princess, not knowing she is from a wealthy, aristocratic family.

When Guido arrives in Arezzo, he quickly finds out how bureaucracy can prevent you from following your dream, again a beautiful scene where the movie winks at our modern way of living, so he starts working as a waiter in his uncle’s upper class hotel instead. Guido is having a lot of fun with the guests, but also shows a different side of himself when exchanging intellectual riddles with a German doctor.

He accidentally meets Dora again and finds out that she is a school teacher. His feelings for her only become stronger and he even impersonates a school inspector to meet her again. This is one of the more hilarious scenes in the movie. It appears that Dora’s school is run by a Nazi type head mistress and Guido is asked to explain a group of young children why they are the perfect Arian race. You can imagine that Guido is not exactly following the party line here, but contrary to the head mistress the children thoroughly enjoy his presentation.

Fast forward, against all odds Guido and Dora finally get married and for a short period of time they enjoy a harmonious life, together with their young son, Giosuѐ. Then the war invades their life as well and the inevitable happens; Guido, Dora and their son are transported to a concentration camp.

The only way for Guido to protect his son from experiencing the horrors in the camp is to present it as a game in which people get points for hiding, not eating and not talking, with a real tank, which Giosuѐ always wanted, as the ultimate price.

In a very moving scene, when Giosuѐ wants to return home, Guido needs all his wits to convince his son to stay, telling him he is very close to winning the big prize. It is amazing to watch how Guido every time is capable of twisting reality for his son by literally playing with it, and as you will see it works.

Conclusion/trailer

Life is Beautiful is a film that will definitely entertain and move you, in many ways, during the full 116 minutes. For me it is another, beautiful example of how movies can inspire us to take another look at life and change it for the better.

I won’t tell you how the story ends except that Giosuѐ does indeed “win” his tank.

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