Even now, 15 years on, it seems almost impossible that Roberto Benigni managed to pull off Life Is Beautiful. Setting what is essentially a slapstick farce in a concentration camp is one hell of a gambit and could have gone horribly wrong. Indeed, the most interesting part of the new, hour-long documentary included on this Blu-ray edition is the discussion about what is a suitable depiction of the Holocaust and what isn’t, and the fears many involved had before they made the movie that the film not only couldn’t work, but could even end up being cheered by Holocaust deniers.
Benigni managed it though, using humour to highlight and contrast against the horrors the characters face. Indeed part of the movie’s power is that nothing about the concentration camp is funny – it never jokes about that – and it’s the place’s very grimness that Guido is trying to hide his son from. It is humour in the face of tragedy, and comedy that’s a testament to the human spirit. [Read more…]