This movie has been a personal favorite of mine. It’s touching and heartwarming nature, despite the context and parts of the film, have made it a classic since the day it came out (December of 1997 to be exact). Pulling off the feeling of being filmed at the time of the content’s occurrance, this atypical film about the Holocaust and its effect on a recently formed and loving family reshapes just exactly what the years of WWII were. And I would argue, for the purpose of this film at least, that despite all the death and destruction, there was an underlying element of hope.
There are two halves to this movie. Sorta like Hostel. Not one parts boobs and one part blood (not to degrade this film to a horror movie, as good as that horror movie may have been for the genre). This particular movie is one part love and whimsy and one part survival and protection. Directed, written, and starring who I would consider to be the
Greatest family of all time? Yes.
greatest foreign actor of all time, Roberto Benigni, comes a movie that holds within it just what it means to be a decent human being in a time of great struggle. Begnini plays Guido Orefice, a peasantly and pleasantly kind and funny man out to make his way in Italy. He finds love, adventure, and the courage to do for his son what I imagine would be the hardest thing on Earth.
Ahhhh, true love of the silver screen.
Let’s start with the beginning of the movie to keep it light. Guido comes to meet this beautiful girl while travelling with his friend. This brings about one of the greatest lines of all time. “Buongiorno Principessa!” Upon every time that Guido runs into the love of his life Dora (Nicoletta Braschi, his actual wife) he utters this phrase, surprising her and sweeping her off her feet with love. Eventually, through his slapstick-like antics, he goes out of his way to encounter Dora and steal her from the stiff and businesslike man who has been arranged to marry her.
A wonderful duo.
I have to say that I love these opening scenes in this movie. With the first 50 minutes of the film comes some of the best crafted scenes of chance and happenstance that I’ve seen in any similarly styled movie. Convincing an Italian government man to eat what someone else didn’t want, attending the school in which Dora works by impersonating that man, and mesmerising Dora with all the things that happen on their romantic date in the rain is just straight out of the older films of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. By even evoking this style comes a sort of magic you wouldn’t expect from a movie of the 90’s.
And then comes the turn. Happily married, Guido, Dora, and their small
A father who will do anything for his son.
wonderful child Giosue (Joshua, performed by Giorgio Cantarini) live happily in a fantastic old mansion of Guido’s uncle’s. In the rising regime of the Italians comes Mussolini and his sympathies and alliances with Hitler. What does that mean exactly? That means the persecution of Jews. Guido, a Jew himself is hauled off one day with Giosue and his uncle. Being the person that he is and the fun and laughable father that every child would need at Giosue’s age, Guido comes up with the idea to shield his son from what is actually going on around him in the Italian Axis Nazi camp.
The ultimate sacrifice.
Throughout the second half of the movie, there is still humor. There is still love felt between Dora and Guido and the son they have raised. But there is a looming danger of death around any corner. Giosue must hide at all times from the German guards in order to avoid the gas chambers that eliminate the young and elderly. Guido must perform hard labor in the yards with next to no food, water, or rest. And yet, every day Guido comes to find some way to describe their experience in this concentration camp as a game. A game, that, if won, will bring the winner a tank. Through every loving action of his father, Giosue comes to realize, as an adult we never actually see, that his father made the ultimate sacrifice in order to save him and his mother.
This is wonderful to know. Life truly is beautiful.
With a heartbreakingly sad scene towards the end, you still see Guido shining until the very end. Guido and Giosue are never in pain, never upset, never crying or despairing over their situation. Despite what every viewer of this movie knows about the Holocaust and what could happen to any of these characters, you have this hope for them that they will make it out. And, if not, you realize just how amazing of a dad that Guido truly is. If I had to give him a level of Dad Points for this film, he would set the high for it. Let’s see:
In the course of this film he:
1. Finds love and creates a child.
2. Cares for that child so deeply that he will do anything in order to make his son’s life better and despair free.
3. Sacrifices his life in order to save his son’s and his wife’s.
4. His son remembers the sacrifice his father gave and is forever indebted to him.
5. Guido as a dad was just to legit to quit.
You bring together all of these elements and you have a Dad that gives a million and one percent. For sure. And, told in one of the most amazingly
heartfelt and romantic ways possible for any film of this genre, and you have made a classic ahead of its time. I am in love with this film. Its title truly does justice to what the aim of this film was. Life is Beautiful. So appreciate it while you have it and know that with the love and life you put into it, great things can come of it. 10 out of 10.
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So does anybody get the reference in my review title? If you do, this movie plot would sound familiar to you. I’m all for this movie, because I was all for that show back in the day. Kyle Chandler’s a pretty good character actor, and in one of my up and coming reviews, I’m going to discuss Super 8, a good role for his style of acting. Anyways, for those who don’t know, the plot of this movie and the plot of Early Edition is one and the same. One is just horror. In the short version, man finds a newspaper. It predicts terrible things that will happen that day (AKA day the newspaper dictates). Guy has to stop these bad things from happening for his own good. A perfect mix of the morality of stopping something before it happens and the supernatural. Let’s get it goin’.
So, in this particular film, Hideki Satomi is at an outing with his wife Ayaka and daughter, Nana. (Reference to anime, perhaps?) Stopping at a phonebooth in order to get service to submit a project he was working on like the unaware
This dad just cares too much.
working dad he is, disaster strikes. Hideki finds a newspaper clipping, quite old, of a 18 wheeler accident at their location. Not understanding, he turns around to find his wife out of harms way, but his daughter trapped in the backseat of the car. With no time to spare… Hideki doesn’t save his daughter.
Feeling like a failure of a dad, Hideki loses whatever job he had and goes to the degrading work of high school literature teaching. His wife, being as crazy and illogical as most mothers in situations like this, divorces her husband in pursuit of psychics and other fortune telling newspapers. That’s something I just really don’t understand. Why would parents divorce over the loss of their children, or, more to the point, the wife wanting to leave the husband. Maybe I’m not old enough or experienced enough to understand, but that would create a bond between me and my wife over that tragic loss. Unless it has something to do with seeing his daughter in his wife or something…
A husband and wife, reunited.
Anyways, Ayaka starts to discover a past of these predicting newspapers while her husband attempts to shut out all thoughts of the child he couldn’t save. In some way or another, the two are reunited and begin their journey to discover just exactly why these two were able to see and understand these newspapers. But all that is revealed is not necessarily good. In a spiraling torrent of evil and unearthed past, Hideki and Ayaka must escape the future in store for them for their pursuits of the deadly paper.
So, in comparison to the other Asian horror films I’ve been watching, this one probably takes the cake. Coming from Japan, the usual suspects of good horror films, this one had the most amount of jumpy parts and disturbing images. The plot was straight ahead horror. Unearthing a secret that changes their lives forever horrifically. Check. Discovering a not so good background. Got it. It’s all good. The acting is dec, (short for decent, get used to it) and the special effects are right there in the middle of the road, not spectacular, but good enough to make me squirm a bit.
A true dad sees his dead daughter, no matter the place.
But what this movie boils down to, as I’ve been told I’m good at deciphering, is the role of the dad. The father in this movie deserves to be subjected to exactly how good of a dad he is. For the record, there are three reasons he’s a good dad:
1. At some point in the film, Hideki attempts to/sacrifices his life in order to save his daughter. This gains any dad instant “dad martyr status.” In truth, if this happens, the surviving wife will tell their children about the courageousness of their father and just how great of a dad he was for dying for them.
2. Hideki’s life spirals into a terrible depression at the loss of his daughter. Any time a dad will grieve an entire life for their child just proves how much they care.
3. Last but not least, Hideki sees images of his dead daughter and it gravely shakes him. This achieves “prophetic depressed dad” status. Any dad, if they truly cared for their child, will never get over the last image they had of their deceased child.
Combine all 3 of these criteria and you have one great dad. Subtract those parts of the film in which Hideki departs from the path of the true dad, and Hideki ends up with about 145 dad points. (100 points if you sacrifice your life for your child.) There’s no particular cap on dad points, but that’s a pretty damn good score. (If you enjoyed this segment of my blog, please like this post or let me know through comment and this’ll come back in the future.)
Not this, Sandra, not this.
And now the rating. I’ll give Premonition (not the Sandra Bullock film) 6.8 out of 10.
1 Comment | tags: anime reference, Asian horror films, Asian version, Ayaka, car accident, character actor, dad grief, dad martyr status, dad points, dead daughter images, dec, decent, disturbing images, divorce, Early Edition, evil, failure dad, fortune telling, Hideki Satomi, high school teacher, horror version, Japan, jumpy parts, Kyle Chandler, loss of a child, morality, Nana, new blog segment, newspaper, newspaper clipping, phonebooth, Premonition, prophetic depressed dad status, psychics, role of the dad, sacrifice life, Sandra Bullock, special effects, Super 8, supernatural, terrible foretellings, tragic loss, true dad, unearthed past, working dad | posted in Movies