This post is old, so what you see here may not reflect my current opinion and mindset, certain information may be outdated, and links may be broken.
I first saw this movie in band class many years ago, but really didn’t get to pay attention because I couldn’t read the subtitles from the back. Recently, while I was subbing, I had to show that to a horde load of band classes, but I still couldn’t read the subtitles. So finally I borrowed the tape myself and watched it at home.
What a lovely film. Roberto Beningi was brilliant as Guido. I liked the beginning how it was so carefree and open. His personality, his love for life, was shown well in the first half of the movie. The way he won over the woman of his love was such a sweet scene. His comedy act was very natural. It wasn’t forced or anything and I found myself laughing at what he did.
Then in the second half, it became more dismal, but still had his humour and carefree-ness. Since he was Jew, he, his son, and his uncle was deported to the concentration camp. His wife, Dora, played by his real-life wife, wanted to come with them even if she was Italian herself.
Granted the movie didn’t show the TRUE horrors of the camp like it realistically was, but that wasn’t the point of the movie. It was shown from Guido’s and his son’s perspective. Guido wanted to his son to survive and not be depressed by anything. So he made the stay at the camp a whole game for his son. To distract him from the true situation of the camp. He told his son that they were playing a game where first prize was going to be a real tank. Joshua was a real tank fanatic, so that worked well with him.
It is amazing how he tried to make everything beautiful as possible. While other prisoners were feeling despair, he tried to make everything simple for his son. He even tried to keep the spirit of his wife up by doing things to remind them of their love and to let her know that he and the son were still alive.
It really was a touching film. I enjoyed it. It may seem stupid at first, but look at the underlying meaning of it. The true focus of this film is indeed beautiful.