Serendipity

So, one of the websites I check out daily is The List Universe. It’s a site full of lists, usually pretty interesting. The other day they had a list of the greatest Italian directors, and Roberto Benigni was on the list at #10. I hadn’t seen any of his movies, but I thought his inclusion was a little dubious and based solely on the popularity of Life Is Beautiful. I mean he made the list and Dario Argento didn’t? (aside- My greatest memory about Life Is Beautiful was when Benigni won the Academy Award for Best Actor. There was a cutaway of Tom Hanks looking thoroughly disgusted that he didn’t win, which I relished because he was turning into a thespianiacal elitist.)

A couple days later I’m looking for something to watch, and, of course, Life Is Beautiful is starting in a few minutes.

Wow.

That was an incredible movie. Funny throughout. No treacle. Really well done. Bengini’s performance really reminded me of the Marx Brothers. And not only does he do comedy well, he can act. The scene where Dr. Lesser pulls Guido aside at the dinner party. Guido’s hoping it’ll lead to him and his family getting out of the camp, but the Doctor is just looking for help with a riddle. Benigni’s face during that scene goes from hope to confusion to bewilderment so subtlely. He conveys it all without overacting or overexpressing. That scene to me was the highlight of his performance.

But I also loved Guido. He maintains his quick witted, happy-go-lucky optimism the whole time. It was heroic, the way he shielded his son from the reality of the situation. Pointing out the absurdity of the idea of throwing people in a furnace. Creating the rules of the game to give reason behind all the acts of the guards and the other prisoners. Then as he’s begin led off to his doom, Guido summons up the courage to make his son giggle one last time. I only wish I could do the same in that situation.

This was a beautiful movie and deserves a place high atop my must see list.

Happy Independence Day!

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