Life is Beautiful

Bomb Rating: 

If life was beautiful during the Holocaust, then my moronic audience-mates were Nobel laureates, Roberto Benigni is a good filmmaker, and you can just start calling me Mr. Happy.

Life is beautiful? About two minutes into the movie -- in a thousand-seat theater with about ten people in it -- a scumball in a leather jacket and his blond bimbo girlfriend sat down across the aisle from me and proceeded to talk through the entire film. Since the film was subtitled, the morons frequently read the subtitles out loud. The guy laughed uproariously at things that were only mildly funny. I sat there for two hours and thought about how glorious it would be if I ripped the armrest from my chair and buried it in this guy's skull. Then I would turn the girlfriend upside-down, plunge her head into the other end of the armrest, and carry them out of the theater like human dumbbells to the scattered applause of the theater's remaining eight attendees. Then, life would be beautiful.

Actor/director Roberto Benigni, however, needs no such qualifier, which just goes to show that once you get famous like Benigni you don't have to watch your movies in theaters rife with morons. I bet if Benigni had sat down next to these people, he would have had his goons throw them out into the street, and then returned to thinking that life is beautiful -- while the banished assholes shivered outside in the cold, thinking how unfair it is. Everything is perspective.

Life is beautiful. Life is pain. Benigni chooses the Holocaust to demonstrate the former in the context of the latter through some very selective perspective. Benigni plays Guido, an Italian Jew who gets everything he wants -- a beautiful wife and a beautiful son -- only to have it taken away by the Nazis, who throw them all in a camp.

Life is beautiful because Guido shields his son from all the bad things around him with humor, and his son survives and presumably learns to love life. Sure, it's a neat trick to set such an uplifting story in the shadow of the gas chambers, but there are better ways to celebrate life than blithely glossing over its darkest moments. If life was beautiful during the Holocaust, then my moronic audience-mates were Nobel laureates, Roberto Benigni is a good filmmaker, and you can just start calling me Mr. Happy.

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