Can the power of imagination change reality? Winner of three Academy Awards, this film is an absolute masterpiece full of laughter and tears. Centering on Guido, a Jewish man deported with his son to the concentration camps, he attempts to shield his kid from brutal reality by making him believe that captivity is merely a game with the grand prize being a real tank.

La vita è bella

This is a simple story. But not an easy one to tell. Like a fable, there is sorrow, there is wonder and happiness. Can we imagine laughing at representations of the Shoah? It appears that the power of imagination can change reality in this absolute masterpiece full of laughter and tears, and winner of three Academy Awards. It is 1939, in Arezzo, Italy. Guido is a romantic and cheerful Jewish man who wants to open a bookshop. In the meantime, he will work as a waiter at the Grand Hotel with his uncle. When he meets Dora, who he calls “princess,” engaged to a Fascist official, he falls in love with her. A few years pass, and Guido and Dora get married and have a son, Giosué. In 1944, Guido and his family must come to terms with anti-Jews Racial Laws in Fascist Italy. The lighthearted comedy then takes a dark turn when the Nazis take both Guido and Giosué away to a concentration camp, and Dora insists to be on the same train to join her family. Guido makes his son believe that captivity is merely a game at the end of which those who score 1.000 points will win a tank. The war is over, and in the chaos of shutting down the camp as the Allied Forces approach, Guido hides Giosué in a junction box and attempts to free Dora, jeopardizing his own chance of survival. The Germans spot him and capture him, but before being executed he turns his head to give his son a wink. In the closing scenes of the film the remaining Germans are seen leaving the camp. Giosué comes out of his hiding place and climbs on an American tank. Convinced he has won the first prize, he hugs Dora shouting happily “mum, we won!”

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