The film Life is Beautiful won so many international awards that it became a modern classic almost overnight. First filmed in 1998 it originally appeared in American theaters only in Italian, with English subscripts. This is where I first saw it. This film had the most unique distinction of being nominated for both the best feature film and the best foreign language film by the Academy. (It was also nominated for best actor.) It won the prestigious Cannes Film Festival and a special Jerusalem award for dealing with the theme of the holocaust. When I first viewed Life is Beautiful I was utterly amazed at the way Roberto Benigni, who stars in the film and directs it at the same time, was able to powerfully employ humor in telling a story of the holocaust from a uniquely Italian perspective. I would have thought such a production impossible until I saw the film for myself. Even if you cannot handle holocaust themes, and some cannot, I believe you can handle this film. It lifts the human spirit in a most remarkable way.

Life is Beautiful is the art of good film at its very best. It makes you laugh, cry and also think very deeply, and it does it all in 122 minutes. It is a truly beautiful film. Benigni has been called “the Charlie Chaplin of our time.” You will think you are actually watching Charlie Chaplin in certain scenes. He is brilliant. There are only three primary characters in the story—a Jewish man, played by Benigni, his charming wife and their little son. This is really not so much a holocaust film as a love story, yet it is a story of courage and a tribute to how imagination can help you live in the worst of circumstances. This is why I rented the DVD two weeks ago to watch it again. One value of the DVD version is that you can hear it in English. Amother is that you can also see a thirty minute tribute to Benigni that will likely inspire you if you love good film as I do.

Life is Beautiful is inspiring. It lifts the soul. Thus it has become one of my favorite films and I am sure I will watch it again soon. I recommend it to you without reservation. It is rated PG-13 for holocaust related themes but it is suitable to all but the very young. I guarantee you this film will be a hit in your home whether you are a huge film fan or not.

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