Guido Orefice (played by Roberto Benigni) is a jovial young Jewish man who has arrived in Arezzo, Italywith his friend Ferruccio (by Sergio Bustric) to seek romance and good fortune. He always finds the joy in life and is a lover of the arts, with dreams of owning his own book store one day. His friend Ferruccio is a poet. But he is not stupid, although there are clear signs all around him, he would rather not have to live with the growing anti-Semitism and lifestyle brought by the Fascist government. He meets beautiful school teacher Dora, (by Nicoletta Braschi) and he makes sure theirs is a fairytale romance. This are wonderful for four years, including the arrival of their beautiful son, Giosué. But then their world shatters when three months before the war’s end Guido and Giosué (now five years old) are sent to a concentration camp. Desperate to make sure they are safe and just wanting to be with them, Dora insists she be taken too. She deports herself on the same train and is housed in the women’s side of the camp. In the nightmare world of the camp, Guido does everything he can to keep the horror from his son and ensure the family is safe, which takes a determination of strength of spirit he must find deep within him.
This is a marvellous movie. Throughout the drama and horror around them, Guido finds the strength from his love of live and his family to maintain a strong (almost irritating) thread of optimism that just cannot be broken, no matter what hardship he faces. The wonderful way he takes the opportunities as they come, he romances Dora and then protects his son from the truth of life is compelling and fabulous. The audience is left to marvel at the strength of this extraordinary man. Although the story twists and turns and the movie is relatively long, it is very good and worthy of the Academy Awards it received in 1998 for Best Actor, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Music. A particular mention should be made of Roberto Benigni, who not only starred in the lead Oscar-winning role, but also directed the award winning movie.
Made in 1997. Directed by Roberto Benigni.