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Life Is Beautiful

Life Is Beautiful (originally La Vita è bella) is a 1997 Italian language film which tells the story of an Italian Jew Guido (played by Roberto Benigni) who lives in a romantic fairy tale, but must learn how to use that dreamy quality to survive a concentration camp with his young son Giosué (played by Giorgio Cantarini). Guido tries to comfort Giosé by pretending that their imprisonment is just an elaborate game (with the grand prize being a tank). The film also stars Nicoletta Braschi.

The movie was written by Vincenzo Cerami and Benigni, and directed by Benigni.


Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers!

The first half of the movie is a whimsical, romantic comedy, often slapstick in its comedy. Guido, a young Italian Jew, arrives in a big city where he sets up a bookstore. He also romances Dora, who he steals - at her engagement - from her rude, loud fiance. Several years pass, in which Guido and Dora have a son, Joshua.

In the second half of the movie, Guido, his uncle, and Joshua are taken to a concentration camp. In an attempt at keeping up Joshua's spirits, he convinces him that the camp is just a game - a game in which the first person to get a thousand points wins a tank. He convinces Joshua that the camp guards are mean because they want the tank for themselves, that all the other children are hiding in order to win the game, and puts off every attempt of Joshua's ending the game and returning home by convincing him that they are in the lead for the tank. Guido maintains this story right until the end, when - in the chaos caused by the American advance drawing near - he tells his son to stay in a pillbox until everybody has left, the final test before the tank is his. Guido is killed in the night as he is discovered searching for Dora in the female section of the camp. Joshua survives and finds his mother.

The music in "Life is Beautiful" was written by Nicola Piovani, and performed by his small orchestra. For this, Piovani won an Oscar for best original score.


It won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Roberto Benigni), Best Foreign Language Film and Best Music, Original Dramatic Score. It was nominated for Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.