Life Is Beautiful

1997 Comedy Drama

In this WW II tragicomedy, famed Italian funnyman Roberto Benigni (The Monster) portrays Guido, who moves during the '30s from the country to a Tuscan town, where he is entranced by schoolteacher Dora (Nicoletta Braschi, Benigni's real-life wife). Dora likes Guido, but she remains faithful to her pompous fiancé, so Guido has an uphill struggle. Meanwhile, anti-Semitic attitudes lead to attacks against Guido's Jewish uncle (Giustino Durano). Leaping ahead to five years later, during WW II, Guido and Dora are married and have a son Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini). After they are imprisoned in a concentration camp, Guido goes to elaborate lengths to keep his son from understanding the truth of their situation. He tells the boy that they are competing with others to win an armored tank -- so everything from food shortages to tattoos is explained as necessary for participation in the contest. more..

Director: Roberto Benigni

Starring: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini, Giustino Durano, Sergio Bustric


  • A deeply moving blend of cold terror and rapturous hilarity. Lovingly crafted by Italy's top comedian and most popular filmmaker, it's that rare comedy that takes on a daring and ambitious subject and proves worthy of it.

    Michael Wilmington - The Chicago Tribune

    19 January 2013

  • Finds the right notes to negotiate its delicate subject matter.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    19 January 2013

  • To see someone even attempt bittersweet treatment of this subject is surprising, but to largely pull it off is a major feat.

    Mike Clark - USA Today

    19 January 2013

  • Benigni effectively creates a situation in which comedy is courage. And he draws from this an unpretentious, enormously likable film that plays with history both seriously and mischievously. Piety has no place here, nor do tears until the final reel. Life is Beautiful plays by its own rules

    Elvis Mitchell - The New York Times

    19 January 2013

  • In one bold stride, Benigni has set himself apart from the rank and file of funnymen, joining the elite class of clowns who know that humor and heartbreak are only a howl of pain apart.

    Michael O'Sullivan - The Washington Post

    19 January 2013


  • Best Feature Film

    AFI Fest (1998)

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role

    Academy Awards (1999)

  • Best Foreign Feature Film (Årets utenlandske spillefilm)

    Amanda Awards, Norway (1999)

  • Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role)

    American Comedy Awards (1999)

  • Roberto Benigni

    Athens International Film Festival (1998)