Title: La vita è bella
Year: 1997 (Italy), 1998 (US)
Length: 116 minutes
Director: Roberto Benigni
Writers: Vincenzo Cerami & Roberto Benigni
Starring: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini
Music: Nicola Piovani (and non-original music)
Distinctions: Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Actor (Benigni) and Best Score (dramatic) (1999); Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing (1999); currently #77 on IMDb’s Top 250
Synopsis: a boy’s father convinces him that a Nazi concentration camp is an elaborate game
How I saw it: in the theater, 1999; on video (rented from Netflix), yesterday
Story: Great. It’s chock full of sappy tropes, but the story’s good enough to make up for them. Even the first half of the movie, which in context is basically just character introductions, is good enough that it could have made a great movie on its own.
Special effects/design: Good. You would never mistake it for a big budget Hollywood film, but it does what it needs to.
Subjective Rating: 8/10 (Great). I had forgotten how good this movie is; if you haven’t seen it since the 90s like I hadn’t, do yourself a favor and remind yourself. Apparently a comedy about the holocaust can be funny after all.
Objective Rating: 3.4/4 (Very good).