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Italy's rubber-faced funnyman Roberto Benigni accomplishes the impossible in his World War II comedy Life Is Beautiful: he shapes a simultaneously hilarious and haunting comedy out of the tragedy of the Holocaust. An international sensation and the most successful foreign language film in U.S. history, the picture also earned director-cowriter-star Benigni Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor. He plays the Jewish country boy Guido, a madcap romantic in Mussolini's Italy who wins the heart of his sweetheart (Benigni's real-life sweetie, Nicoletta Braschi) and raises a darling son (the adorable Giorgio Cantarini) in the shadow of fascism. When the Nazis ship the men off to a concentration camp in the waning days of the war, Guido is determined to shelter his son from the evils around them and convinces him they're in an elaborate contest to win (of all things) a tank. Guido tirelessly maintains the ruse with comic ingenuity, even as the horrors escalate and the camp's population continues to dwindle--all the more impetus to keep his son safe, secure, and, most of all, hidden. Benigni walks a fine line mining comedy from tragedy and his efforts are pure fantasy--he accomplishes feats no man could realistically pull off--both of which have drawn fire from a few critics. Yet for all its wacky humor and inventive gags, Life Is Beautiful is a moving and poignant tale of one father's sacrifice to save not just his young son's life but his innocence in the face of one of the most evil acts ever perpetrated by the human race.--Sean Axmaker
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CastMarisa Paredes, Giorgio Cantarini, Giustino Durano, Horst Buchholz, Sergio Bustric, Giuliana Lojodice
Genre:  Foreign
Release Date:  October 23, 1998
MPAA Rating:  PG-13
Runtime:  116 minutes
Studio:  Miramax Entertainment
What's your opinion on Life Is Beautiful?
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More Life Is Beautiful reviews
Quick Tip by . October 07, 2010
The way the camp life is handled in this film is repulsive. I think there might be ways to inject some humor, but the Buster Keaton manner was disgusting.
Quick Tip by . July 14, 2010
This film makes you laugh while showing a sad time in Italian history.
Quick Tip by . March 29, 2010
posted in Reel Overseas
Realistic life story that will make you laugh and cry! Great to see this masterpiece with older children.
review by . July 15, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
There are very few films you can watch in a foreign language with subtitles which will make you laugh out loud. Life is Beautiful will do so from beginning to end. Benigni is a motor-mouthed genius, the script and screen play devilishly inventive and impishly funny all the way along.It's certainly no flat-out rib-tickler: The experiences of a Jewish Italian waiter and his family in a concentration camp could hardly be wall to wall slapstick. (Well, in Mel Brooks' capable hands, maybe - but Benigni …
review by . June 25, 2000
Pros: Heart Felt, Historical Film     Cons: Not 100% believable     Life as is beauty is in the eye of the beholder if you believe this film. In the face of unspeakable tragedy the main character tries to shield his son and wife from it all. In the larger sense, he succeeds but at his own peril. A poignant love story is the best way to sum this movie up.      A brillant Jewish waiter makes light of all of the negative elements in his life …
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