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YMMV / Life Is Beautiful

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  • Broken Base: Aside from the debate whether the movie is a superb Dramedy made of a Holocaust story, or is ultimately tasteless and offensive, there's another serious contentious about the good faith of the movie: the liberation of the camp by the U.S. army. This is caused by the Common Knowledge that the movie takes place in Auschwitz, which was actually liberated by the Soviet army. The movie never openly states where the camp is located, though the widespread assumption isn't entirely baseless, since Auschwitz is where most Italian Jews were deported (camps in Western Europe were usually used for political prisoners). Benigni himself defended his own choice, saying that the camp in the movie is "'the' concentration camp": an idealised camp representing all those where the Holocaust took place. Some people support Benigni's interpretation, or in general find the matter to be an Acceptable Break from Reality, given the theme of the story. Many among critics and audience, however, found it an offensive Critical Research Failure that, by pulling out the ubiquitous America Won World War II trope, yet again undervalues the Soviet role in liberating the concentration camps. Some downright accuse Benigni of having cowardly done so to appease the Western audience and ensure the movie's reception as an Oscar Bait that wouldn't have been otherwise.
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  • Common Knowledge: As mentioned above, many people are convinced that the movie takes place in Auschwitz. The movie however never specifies that; furtermore, while Auschwitz is in flat land, the movie's camp has mountains in the background. This widespread assumption however isn't entirely unjustifiable: the overwhelming majority of Italian Jews was deported to Auschwitz, while most Italians deported to Western European camps were political prisoners.
  • Glurge: While the film is technically Very Loosely Based on a True Story and was enjoyed by plenty of Holocaust survivors (including Benigni's own father), the perceived sentimentality of its message that someone, anyone could overcome the shell shock of living through the incomparable horrors of The Holocaust just because of their hopes and optimism has not been without harsh criticism.
    Mel Brooks: "Roberto Benigni's comedy Life Is Beautiful really annoyed me. A crazy film that even attempted to find comedy in a concentration camp. It showed the barracks in which Jews were kept like cattle, and it made jokes about it. The philosophy of the film is: people can get over anything. No, they can't. They can't get over a concentration camp."
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  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In one of the iconic scenes of the film, Guido "translates" the orders yelled by a Nazi into completely unrelated things invented on the spot, to make his son believe that the camp is actually a game. Looks like Roberto Benigni was the precursors of a popular meme, in which the words of another German guy are translated into something completely different.
  • Inferred Holocaust: The movie conveniently ends before the boy inevitably finds out that his father is dead. It is probably for this reason that voice-overs of the boy as an adult were later added to the movie.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The pile of emaciated bodies Guido and Giosuè come across after the dinner party. It towers over the two like a mountain, and fortunately Giosuè is asleep and is spared from the sight, but it clearly shakes Guido to his core.
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  • Poison Oak Epileptic Trees: Some critics, with varying degrees of seriousness, say that Giosuè is likely going to grow up to be a Holocaust denier (though his narration as an adult implies that he did later realize the truth of what was going on).
  • Spiritual Licensee: Often considered to be the closest thing we'll ever get to actually seeing The Day the Clown Cried, and in some cases a good indicator as to why that movie has never been shown publicly.


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