Thursday, November 8, 2007

Life is Beautiful -- A Movie Review

My daughters don't cry at movies; they bring me kleenex. And the really strange thing is--to me at least--this isn't a sad movie. It is one of the funniest, the most genuinely happy, movies I've seen in a long, long time. Which, when I think about it some more, may be why they did cry.

Life is Beautiful isn't a new film. It's been around for almost ten years but it's new for our family. I discovered it in reading a review for the movie, Bella, which has just come out. The review claimed that Bella was the best thing since Life is Beautiful and Hotel Rwanda. So I decided to check those out. So far so good. (The book about the making of Hotel Rwanda is also good...thus far.)

Life is Beautiful can be compared to Children of Heaven, an Iranian-made film from roughly the same time-period, if by any chance you have seen it. There is something very sweet and pure about both of those movies--something you don't often see.

Life tells the story of a Jewish Italian waiter who lives by a philosophy of life so unsullied and childlike, it reminds one of Christ's injunction to be 'as innocent as doves'. From the Douay-Rheims version it reads: 'Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.' Matt 10:16

And indeed, the characters in the story are dealing with wolves, the Nazis during World War II. At times it does seem as if the waiter is just naive, guileless and maybe even brainless too. He not only has his wits, however, he has a capacity for discernment, a higher wisdom...which only comes from above. And let me reassure you, this is not your ordinary war film. In fact, it isn't even a war film, per se. It manages to tell a story during wartime without ever really getting dark. I cannot say often enough how happy and truly sublime this film experience is.

This movie is about Life and what a extraordinary gift it is. See it! The movie, I mean. As for Life, well, "L'Chayim!"

P.S. I forgot to mention this is an Italian film actually and it's called, La Vita è bella. Isn't that delicious in itself?

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