Life is Beautiful

By Agnes King, WYA Europe Regional Director of Operations

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On Monday evening, World Youth Alliance (WYA) Europe launched our 2013 monthly movie series during which we view a movie that explores a question about the nature of human dignity and host a discussion on it. Roberto Benigni’s 1997 film Life is Beautiful seemed an obvious choice because it examines one of the most egregious violations of human dignity in our modern history, the Soah, and shows the triumph of the human spirit. In addition to that, it is on WYA’s recommended movie list.

During the discussion, a young person rightfully pointed out that this movie took a lighthearted approach to the horrors of the Holocaust, which should be approached solemnly and only discussed seriously, perhaps only in documentaries.  This remark got me thinking about something that G.K. Chesterton says: “It is easy to be solemn, it is so hard to be frivolous.”

Benigni, a comedian, shows the horror of the concentration camps by avoiding addressing the question directly and by creating a fairy tale world where good triumphs over evil. The main character Guido faces his situation with humor and love.  He turns the camp into a game for his young son and tells him that if he is quiet, hides from the guards and does not complain, he will win a tank. Guido might have denied his son the truth about the horrors of the camp, but by doing so, keeps his innocence and fills his life with joy. As one critic says, it shows the triumph of the will and true freedom: http://www.damaris.org/content/content.php?type=5&id=899