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Life Is Beautiful [VHS]
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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

An inspired motion picture masterpiece, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL was nominated for 7 Academy Awards(R) -- winning 3 Oscars, including one for Best Actor Robert Benigni. In this extraordinary tale, Guido (Benigni) -- a charming but bumbling waiter who's gifted with a colorful imagination and an irresistible sense of humor -- has won the heart of the woman he loves and created a beautiful life for his young family. But then, that life is threatened by World War II ... and Guido must rely on those very same strengths to save his beloved wife and son from an unthinkable fate! Honored with an overwhelming level of critical acclaim, this truly exceptional, utterly unique achievement will lift your spirits and capture your heart!

Customer Reviews:

  • A Wonderful Film
    Life is Beautiful is a film by Roberto Benigni, which really showcases his talent before he made an embarassing stab at playing Pinocchio. "Life is Beautiful" is probably my favorite Foreign film (I've only seen probably 5 though); It's funny, heartfelt, has wonderful performances, and is all around a joy to watch. It also happens to be a layered film, that goes in one direction before veering off into another but never losing it's charm. Benigni plays Guido, a waiter with a humorous streak. After Guido contantly stumbles into Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), he falls in love with her and the movie (with no warning) flashes forward a number of years. This first half of the film (which is a little over 50 minutes) is pretty much a romantic-comedy. The second half is quite different. In the second half, Guido and Dora (who now have a young son named Joshua) live in Italy which is overrun with Germans. Subsequently, Guido and Joshua are taken into a concentration camp; Dora also goes to the camp, but under different circumstances which are a bit unbelievable but still a nice part of the story. Anyway, Guido employs his quick-wit to keep his son from the horrors of the camp; Guido tells Josh that it's actually an elaborate game and that he must avoid being seen. If, at the end, he does everything he's told and racks up the most "points" he will get a tank. Benigni (who is also the co-writer and director) does something that's never been done. He takes a horrifying setting (a concentration camp) and turns it into a comedy, without exploting anything and without losing heart.
    The film takes a sad turn in the end, which I think adds to it's realism. If it had a completely happy ending, I don't think it would work as well. Even if you're not a person who watches foreign film, this is an absolute masterpiece and to not see this film would be a mistake. This is a wonderful film, with Benigni (who I think is the first person to win an Oscar for Best Actor for a foreign language film, although I could be wrong) giving an absolutely delightful performance. I really don't see how someone could not enjoy this film.

    GRADE: A
    ...more info
  • A Master piece
    This film, along with "Schindler's List" should be shown in all the classrooms in the world. It underlines what family is about and to what lengths a father goes through to protect his son from the madness of the world. A real example of Love.
    What courage it took Roberto Benigni to write a story which mocks the extermination camps without denying respect to those victim of it. There should be more movies like this around...more info
  • Romance And Creativity
    This movie would easily fall into my top twenty favorite films. It has romance, comedy, and tragedy rolled up into one. It has subtitles, but it is well worth the watch. ...more info
  • inspirational
    The movie is inspirational. I'm a guy. I don't like movies that make me cry, but this one I love because it does make me cry. I sit in the basement late at night and watch it by myself so I can cry my eyes out.

    Love doing business through they are consistent and I always get what I order....more info
  • Awesome movie
    This movie is a definite classic and hit anywhere you take it. It hits all of your emotions and even takes you into a blast of history....kinda. If you havent seen info
  • found!!!
    I looked everywhere for this video!!!I was so thrilled to find it at amazon,plus the fact that it can be viewed in Italian with english sub titles was a plus.It's funny, and sad a slice of the reality they lived through.And it's a true story, a memoir of a Father's love for his family as seen through the eyes of his son. ...more info
    This is one of the best and most creative films ever made. Totally inventive in concept, the story revolves around an exuberant and romantic Italian man named Guido, who also happens to be Jewish. He sweeps the woman of his dreams, his "Principessa", off her feet. They marry and have an adorable little boy whom they dearly love. Unfortunately, this all happens during World War II in fascist Italy.

    Ultimately, Guido and their son are whisked away to a concentration/work camp on their young son's birthday. Meanwhile, his wife and the boy's mother, coming home and expecting to find a birthday celebration in progress, discovers, instead, that the inevitable has occurred. She tracks them down to the train that is taking prisoners to a work camp and, after confirming that they are on board, insists upon boarding the train herself, so that she may remain close to them. They see her board the train and know that she is with them.

    In order to get his son through this horror as best he can, Guido tells his son that they are involved in a real life game to win a tank, knowing that the boy had wanted a toy tank for his birthday. Talk about a reality survival game! In any case, his son is young enough to fall for it and gets with the program as only the very young can. What follows is a series of inventive scenarios which tells the viewer of the lengths that the father goes in order to keep his son quiet, obedient, entertained, and safe from harm. All along, the father has his son believing in the game and playing to win, to the point that the boy believes that they are actually in first place to win the tank.

    While this may sound like an odd venue in which to find oneself laughing, that is exactly what the viewer does. At the same time, the film is achingly poignant, and the end is infinitely sad. Guido is played to perfection by comedic star and filmmaker Roberto Benigni, who also directed this masterpiece. His on screen wife and comedic foil is played by his real life main squeeze, Nicoletta Braschi. The son is played with wondrous innocence by the totally adorable Giorgio Cantarini. This is an award caliber film that saw Benigni deservedly capture Oscars for Best Actor and Best Foreign Language Film.

    All in all, this film will leave the viewer both laughing and crying. It is simply a great movie. Bravo!

    ...more info
  • A Funny and Romantic Masterpiece.
    If this story ended just after Guido married Dora it would still be one of the best movies I have seen. In its entirety it is truly a masterpiece and in many ways.

    First, Guido's joking, humorous, positive attitude is a great example for all of us to follow. We each create our own realities. We can't change a lot of things,so why not not be happy and make jokes about everything,like Guido does, even when life is at its darkest moments?

    Second, Begnini takes a very serious drama of one of the darkest periods in history and makes a comedy out of it.

    Third,who would think that Dora, a gentile, would finally choose to marry the lowly Guido, when she is already the fiance of a wealthy (but boring) aristocrat. The scene where he steals her away is wonderful. If you ever want to explain the use of Jewish chutzpah, this scene is as good as it gets.

    Finally,this is a romantic masterpiece. Guido's devotion to his wife and son is perhaps the most overpowering part of the movie. If only we could all treat our wives and children that way! Their happiness and security is all he lives for. He puts their lives ahead of his no matter what the consequences.

    The ending of the movie is so touching, you must be prepared to cry. Have several handerchiefs handy.

    I was introduced to the movie by a friend, and almost by accident. How fortunate I was to know about this movie. It will always be very close to my heart. ...more info
  • Weak
    I would not recommend this movie. Not homogeneous. Beginning and end belong to two different movies. Ok, the last scene was touching and some of the scenes were quite engaging but overall I did not enjoy it that much....more info
  • Story of Hope, Love, Life Despite the Realities
    Released to movie theaters in 1998, like many people, I could not conceive how a comedy and satire about the Holocaust would be an award-winning film ... yet having viewed it, I *do* now understand: it is the personality of Roberto Benigni who uses Charlie Chaplinesque comedy techniques to emphasize the tragic events which seem even more intense as the viewer knows the truth. Roberto Benigni plays Guido, a waiter who moves to Arezzo, Italy and literally bumps into Dora (played by Nicoletta Braschi, his real-life wife), a stylish and attractive young lady, with whom he instantly falls in love, only to learn she is engaged to someone else. As luck would have it, he is the waiter at their engagement reception - where all kinds of mishaps occur, as Guido tries to engage Dora's attention. He accidentally drops something on the floor and crawls beneath the table to retrieve it while Dora peeks under the table and crawls half-way to meet him ... where they exchange a secret kiss (despite her fiance sitting at the table). One thing leads to another, Guido magically rides in on a green-painted horse, sweeping Dora up onto the saddle with him, as they ride off ... together to be married.

    Next, more than five years has passed, as the present turns into the future, within the courtyard of Guido's home ... Their son Joshua is the sunshine of their lives, as he sits on the bicycle along side his mother, as Guido peddles into the town. Joshua tends the bookstore while his dad is taken off to the police station, to register as a Jewish store owner. Guido does the famous goose-step routine to entertain his son ... Shortly afterwards, on Joshua's birthday, the local Jewish population is taken off to internment. Guido tells Joshua a story about going on a trip, a secret trip, only his mother knows about it. Guido establishes the rules of the game, where on this trip, if they earn 1000 points, Joshua wins a *real* tank. As a little boy, Joshua is in love with his toy tank ...

    There are numerous poignant scenes within the film which emphasize the risks Guido is willing to take to keep his wife and son safe from harm. He manages to send Dora a very personal message by playing an opera song on a loudspeaker, and even Joshua gets in a loving message to his mother. Guido continues the game, despite Joshua's suspicions, as other prisoners give him messages of what is truly happening at the camp. One of the most bizzare twists is when, Joshua manages to escape from taking a shower ... his dad says, you should take the shower (as meaning a real cleansing one) ... not knowing that Joshua's life was held in the balance, and tilted toward "life" by having refused and run away from the shower which meant *certain* death. The rescue scene by an American soldier, who has Joshua hop on board for a ride is very moving ... especially when realizing Guido who was dressed as a woman with a babushka tied beneath her chin, had just been caught, and led away into an alley, where gunfire was heard in the distance. The German soldier walked out alone ... The fact is, Guido sacrified himself in search of his family after the war was declared over, and in the end, had died in the attempt to keep his family alive. To appreciate the magic of this film ... it must viewed, with an open mind. There is no doubt in my mind, the film deserves the 70 world-wide film festival awards it has won ... including the prestigious Gran Prix at Cannes, three awards in Jerusalem, including the Mayor's award and the Jerusalem Medal, Best Actor, Best Score, and Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards and at the European Film Awards, Best Film and Best Actor. Erika Borsos [pepper flower]...more info
  • Bellissimo!!!
    "Life is Beautiful" is without doubt a wonderful film. At once we are reminded of the extremes of life - love and hatred, kindness and cruelty, laughter and sadness. Yet, through it all, "Life is Beautiful" for its optimism, courage and inner strength amidst adversity. Lessons that we as parents, as spouses and, above all else, as human beings should emulate.

    The film moves quickly thanks to Roberto Benigni's brilliant story, tightly woven script and slapstick humour. Indeed, at times I thought I was watching Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton or Harpo Marx in some scenes, i.e. the changing of hats, the horse in the restaurant, the umbrella dance, the runaway car, the exaggerated goosestep.

    As for the Miramax `Collector's Edition' DVD, it features various film trailers, an interview with Benigni nd his wife (Nicoletta Braschi) and an interactive menu with language options in Italian or English. I watched it in Italian with English subtitles, and although I don't speak the language, I found it relatively easy to follow.

    "Life is Beautiful" really pulls at the heartstrings. You'll have a good laugh, a good cry. And you'll realise life is indeed beautiful! ...more info
  • and more ******
    Yes, I cried too. In a world, where we forget to appreciate our beloved ones, Guido gives the most strength to his beloved ones in the most difficult times. A smiling face, a loving heart, a courage to give that strength to his family in the most beautiful way. a sharp thinking capability... With his love, Dora and Joshua find the direction to survive and with his love, I am sure both Dora and Joshua find the way to move on... lovely......more info
  • Life is Beautiful
    A great movie that everyone will love. Great plot with a story everyone age will love!...more info
  • how to gain appreciation
    Technically speaking, this movie share the same weaknesses of all the other Benigni's production: it's essentially a group of short gags assembled together more or less casually just to reach the proper length of a film.
    As far as the content is concerned, most of the positive reviews run something like:
    OK, don't seek historical accuracy in this film. This film is not about the holocaust primarily, it's purpose is not to document the holocaust. It is a film about family and the love of a father for his son. It is a film about how to survive in the most horrible conditions imaginable.
    It seems to me they fail to grasp that this movie contains his own paradox. Out of a thousand way one can choose to stage "the love of a father for his son" Benigni picked up, not surprisingly, the holocaust, because he knew it was "the most horrible conditions imaginable", i.e. it's sooo touching and also the easiest way to get the audience on your side. On the other hand Benigni depicts a sort of watered, hilarious, Hogan heroes type of holocaust that is far from being "the most horrible conditions imaginable". Why? First because he is inherently a clown and that is the only way he knows to describe the facts of life, second because it would have been impossible to give the smallest bit of credibility to such a character amidst the horror of a real camp situation.
    As a result, the film ends up giving no historical accuracy (actually is an insult to historical accuracy), and, much worse, sounding so fake also on the main characters side.
    He simply was ready to take advantage of a real historical drama just as a background in order to give weight and gain support to a otherwise very inconsistent plot, script and mediocre acting.
    ...more info
  • someone had to make this film
    There are movies that have to made. This is one.

    The Holocaust has in these times become a part of everyday life. Read the news, look around you. These months Iran's psychotic president never fails to bring it up. Neither do Holocaust deniers, apologists, the Arab press, historians, the anti-defamation league, the ACLU, Ashkenazi Jews, Sephardic Jews, Israelis, Americans... I won't go on. And here we have this movie, which is a gem.

    There are many aspects of this movie that make it a five star movie if not a "classic" yet. I want to touch on these so that those who have not seen the movie or own the movie consider keeping it in their DVD collection for those times...

    First, the Italian bravado for life and love and the good things, similar to the great film Mediteraneo; Second, the humanity of those who believe that la vita e bella, even during a pandemic of human psychosis and hate (sound familiar); Third, the story, which allows us to see at the same time horror but laughter, and laughter is the best medicine; and finally, the unique flow of the movie. If Roberto Benigni, the directors, the camera crew, and the screen writers only made one film, this film, they would still have contributed a masterpiece and could retire. It is funny, horrific, but ultimately redeeming. It is a movie that one never tires of watching.

    Those Italians, dio mio! You laugh and cry at the same time, an emotional experience that runs the gamut. How do they do it? So ife is beautiful even if the movie is not perfect. If you are feeling (strongly!) that it is not, watch this film. One never exhausts of it.

    Gabriel Elias ...more info
  • Beautiful!
    This is a beautiful movie about the power of humor to bring hope and protect innocence in the face of unspeakable evil. Roberto Benigni's achievement is incredible: his performance is hilariously endearing, his screenplay brilliant, and his directing wonderfully atmospheric. Truly heartwarming....more info
  • Not perfect, but very worthwhile
    Life is Beautiful is almost two distinctive productions - the first an almost slapstick comedy with absurdities and pratfalls, the second a comi-tragedy in which the protagonists are interred in a concentration camp during World War II.

    The scenes and settings throughout the film are glorious. The tension of the concentration camp setting, for both prisoners and their overseers, was palpable.

    As an American viewer I was uncomfortable with the last half of the film. It was during that portion that the lead character made light of the many awful things occurring inside the concentration camp all for the benefit and fortification of his young son. A couple of the monologues were revealing, however. Who would accept the absurdity of human beings being burnt in ovens and their remains being reconstituted into buttons and soap? Of course that can't be true.

    One of the main things that this film brought to me was the fact that the comedian...the one always trying to make the situation better and lighter...was the ultimate hero. American filmmakers should learn a lesson from that.

    This review refers to the English-dubbed version of the film.
    ...more info
  • A Charming Holocaust Movie
    I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but there's just no other way to describe it. Absolutely charming, "Life is Beautiful" will keep you spellbound. Guido's exuberance and zest for life, regardless of the circumstances in which he finds himself, make a profound and lasting impression.

    I initially shyed away because of the hype surrounding all of the Academy Awards it won, but upon seeing it, immediately realized why it won and wondered why it didn't get Best Picture as well.

    You won't regret taking the time to watch this one! If you possibly can, the Italian version (with subtitles) is beautiful. It loses just a little bit in translation when you watch the English version, the jokes change a little, but it's stil wonderful. Because of this movie, I bought Andrea Bocelli's version of Barcarolle (Offenbach) and Mario Frangoulis' "Sometimes I Dream" album for the "Buongiorno Principessa" track....more info
  • unreal
    Saw this one on television. Scenery and costuming are pretty good. But overall I really don't care for it. There really is nothing funning about the Holocost. Indeed the scene best showing this is when the child of the main character is briefly lead away by an Aufseherin. She is wearing a starched clean white nanny apron over her uniform complete with black boots, her face devoid of warmth; which pretty much describes the reality of this film. ...more info
  • Buongiorno, Principessa!
    It took me almost a decade to get on board and see "Life is Beautiful," but after viewing the DVD twice in consecutive days, once in dubbed English and once in Italian with English subtitles, I felt an urge to put in my two-cents' worth for this amazing film. It doesn't make light of the Holocaust, but presents an inspiring, if improbable, triumph of the human spirit over that unspeakable evil. There are real-life Guidos in this world and when faced with a grave threat like Auschwitz, they somehow find a way to rise above it. The late Pope John Paul II was no stranger to the horrors of Nazism and Soviet communism, especially in Poland not far from Auschwitz, and it is a fitting tribute to "Life is Beautiful" that he considered it his favorite movie. It is much the same with me and I plan to see it often enough to be able to understand it in Italian without subtitles (so as to take it in more like the way it was intended). "Life is Beautiful" also delivers a powerful message about the married life, fatherhood, and sacrificial love. An unforgettable event! Rev. Dennis J. Mercieri...more info
  • Awful
    I was extremely disappointed with this movie. I read the raving reviews and thought it would be great but it wasn't. Some parts were funny but I don't think you can make light on something as dreadful as the Holocaust no matter how good the acting is. I think this is taking dark humor too far and I found it extremely offensive and over rated!...more info