If there is one quote that could define this movie, it is G.K Chesterton’s quote:-
“Of a sane man, there is only one safe definition. He is the man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head.” Guido, the Jewish bookstore owner, portrayed by Roberto Benigni in this movie, is the personification of this sane man.
This movie is able to place comedy where you least expect a comedy to be set, in a concentration camp. It is a testament to how we humans are capable of meaninglessly killing each other and how we humans are also capable of finding meaning in this abyss of insanity. I don’t think I have ever seen a movie that could mix humor with tragedy so well that laughter and tears of grief/sympathy accompany each other. As the narrator says in at the beginning of the movie:-
“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”.
I realized after the movie that I couldn’t understand the language that they were speaking, Italian. It never occurred to me that I was solely understanding the movie based on the subtitles, profoundly engaging.
Guido looks like an insane man when he is blabbering all the time but he never does anything without purpose. The acting by Roberto Benigini is outstanding and it is no surprise that he won the Best actor Oscar for his role.
This movie is a classic and the character of Guido will be etched in my memory for a long time. More people need to watch this.