Approx advert and trailer run time: 25 mins
Film run time: 1hr 56m
Part of the ‘A Cinematic Odyssey: Postcards from Europe’ strand.
Roberto Benigni’s daring decision to set a comedy-drama against the backdrop of fascism pays off in this ingenuous Italian classic, now widely regarded as a masterpiece.
Jewish Italian Guido Orefice (Benigni) lives a blameless life as a waiter in the Kingdom of Italy. After winning over Dora (Nicoletta Braschi) with his good-hearted nature, the pair marry and have a son, Joshua (Giorgio Cantarini), and for many years live an idyllic life running a bookshop together.
But then, on Joshua’s birthday, armed thugs burst in and take them to a concentration camp. With Dora in a separate compound, it falls to the irreverent Guido to protect his son. By repurposing his gift for jokes and high jinks, he sets up an elaborate world of make-belief for Joshua in a heroic attempt to insulate him from the horrors all around them.
The Italian public adored Benigni’s work so much they came to regard him as a national hero, while Pope Jean Paul II famously placed the movie in his top five. It is easy to understand why. Life Is Beautiful is deeply humane, somehow recovering decency and innocence from history’s most nightmarish catastrophe.
The film will be introduced by Dr Paul Sutton, who will stay for the end of the film for a post-screening discussion in the front-tier of the downstairs seating area.