La Vita P bella (It's a Beautiful Life) (1997) 



Director:     .

Starring:     Roberto Benigni (Guido), Nicoletta Braschi (Dora), Giorgio Cantarini (Joshua), Giustino Durano (Uncle Eliseo), Sergio Bini Bustric (Ferruccio), Marisa Paredes (Dora's Mother), Horst Buchholz (Doctor Lessing), Giuliana Lojodice (School Principal), Amerigo Fontani (Rodolfo), Pietro De Silva (Bartolomeo), Francesco Guzzo (Vittorino), Raffaella Lebboroni (Elena), Claudio Alfonsi (Rodolfo's Friend), Gil Baroni (Prefect), Massimo Bianchi (Man with Key).

father and son thrown in a concentration camp and dad tries to pretend it's a game to protect his son from the terror there


I did not like this film.  The hero tries to save his son by hiding him in his barracks in the concentration camp.  He tries to make the whole thing a game and makes his son laugh to spare him from the horrors of the concentration camp.   It's not the right word, but at times it struck me as near "sacrilege".   How could anyone, adult or child, not know that a concentration camp is a terrible place to be?  It misleads one in thinking that a person could actually accomplish something likes this.  If the Nazis didn't find the child, the Jewish guards (known for their brutality) certainly would have.  It's just not plausible that anyone could come out of the concentration camp without being scarred to some extent, including children.  No, concentration camps were places where no one should be and the experiences shouldn't be cheapened by a film that tries to make a joke or a game out of the experience. 

Patrick L. Cooney, Ph. D.









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