Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful: A fable?


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Fable —A deliberately false or improbable account, well, so says Merriam-Webster. Can a love story be a fable? Sure thing —not only did Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful does not just fall into one genre, but into many. The remarkable film can be considered as a romantic comedy, a drama, but most of all, a fable—The story of a man, winning the heart of his “princess” and his own son.
     
     Now, Life is Beautiful is a very serious film. There are constant reminders of what time period the film is set in. The time of Hitler, a period of great racism towards the Jewish people. Guido knows very much about the current events, but continues to shelter his young son. We are reminded of the times with the painting of the horse. The words “Jewish Horse” are painted onto a horse that was also painted green. All of the images of the concentration camps make our spines chill as we realize and remember that hundreds of thousands of human beings had to live, and die in camps much like the one in the film. The countryside at the beginning of the film is also a great realistic moment in history—Mussolini riding into a town, the townspeople greeting him with open arms.

     But through all of these images of the horror and sadness of the time period, hopes are constantly raised by the humor, and personality of Guido and the magic his character brings to the story. Riding into a hotel ballroom on a green horse, and riding away with his princess—stealing her away from her fiancé, much like the old stories from the past. In the film, the concentration camp is a playground for a young child. And in the same town that Mussolini was driving through, Guido first meets his princess.

     Roberto Benigni and Guido teach us that we must live our lives to the fullest, and never cease to enjoy ourselves.

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This magical story shows us the effect of this lesson. Even though Guido is killed in the end, we sense through Joshua’s monologues at the beginning and end of the film, has kept the spirit of his father alive. He narrates the story as one a mother would tell her child, which would eventually be passed through the generations. One day, becoming a great fable.


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