Life is Beautiful (Blu-ray)
“This is a simple story but not an easy one to tell. Like a fable there is sorrow, and, like a fable, it is full of wonder and happiness.” The opening lines of LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL perfectly describe the uplifting, tragic movie set in 1940s Italy.
In 1998 this picture had a huge impact on me, not just because of the sensitive and romantic subject matter but it was the first foreign film that caught my attention and opened my eyes to foreign cinema. When LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL writer, director and actor Roberto Benigni won the Academy Award for Best Actor, I remember clapping, cheering and crying all at once when he leaped from his seat and climbed over the chairs to accept the award. Though there are a lot of people who disapproved of Mr. Benigni’s antics that night, there is no doubting that he created a powerful touching masterpiece with LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.
Who knew that leaving the theatre I would dream of the day when a man would greet me with the phrase “Buon giorno, Principessa!” as Guido (Roberto Benigini) did when pursuing his dream girl, Dora (Nicoletta Braschi ). Their courtship has to be one of my all time favorites in film. From catching Dora from a fall in a barn loft, an evening walk in the rain and a horseback escape from Dora’s engagement party, I am invested in their romance. Making the already tragic events that follow their courtship even more gut wrenching.
After Guido, his son Giosué (the adorable Giorgio Cantarini), and Uncle Eliseo are put on a train headed for a concentration camp and Dora races to the station demanding to be put onto the train, I get the chills and become teary eyed. But the ultimate love story in this picture is that between a father and his son. The taxing effort and energy that went into their daily routine of playing a “game” to protect his young son from life in a concentration camp seems impossible. But Benigini makes it work and his son does not fully know the perils of life in a camp during the Holocaust.
The filmmakers did an excellent job casting for this picture. Benigini treats viewers to an amusing portrait of a passionate man. The chemistry he has with the other actors, both friends and foes, is undeniable. There is no way another actor could have pulled off this role and made this film work. There was a balancing act between the content and the comedic elements that were done flawlessly. Even though we do not see much of her, Brashi’s Dora is perfect. The expressions she makes at each surprise encounter with Guido feel genuine and happy. Newcomer Cantarini is most impressive as well.
Truly, this film is … beautiful. From the acting, costuming, energy, love and tragic ending moments, all are a job well done. It is no surprise that this picture was nominated for Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Writing, Best Screenplay/Written Directly for the Screen and walked away with statues for Best Music (Original Score), Best Foreign Language film and as mentioned earlier, Best Actor at the Academy Awards. For those of you who have not seen this movie, what are you waiting for? LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL will transform you, and who knows, inspire you too.
Video (2.35:1): A decent transfer to Blu-ray, but not the best I’ve seen.
Audio (5.1 DTS HD Master Audio): Great audio, even if you are reading the subtitles all the way through the picture.
Making Life Beautiful (23:27): Some on set moments with Benigini and lots of moments with all of the awards they won for this picture from around the world.
Academy Award Television Commercials (5:20): The moments after the Oscar’s caught on tape.