This Monday 21st January, World Youth Alliance Europe was delighted to hold the first film screening of the year to members and friends of WYA. The chosen film was “Life is Beautiful”(“La vita è bella”), an Italian tragicomedy drama that tells the moving story of a Jewish man who has a wonderful romance and uses his humour to drastically improve the experience of his wife in a Nazi concentration camp, and to save the life of his son. The film portrays remarkably a beautiful shared human experience. It shows us that even when physically or emotionally shackled man is capable of expressing his freedom.
Discussion started with the idea, proposed by Agnes King, Director of Operations at WYA Europe, that the film rather cheaply used the stereotype of language to portray the “good” and the “bad” people in the film: the German language portrayed negativity and the Italian language, and especially the English language, was a gleam of hope. We noted in fact that the American soldier who saved the boy at the end was portrayed as the hero, and yet in truth, it was the efforts of the committed father that really saved the boy’s life.
Juan Ignacio Fernandez Torres, Director of Advocacy at WYA Europe, talked of the Victor Frankl’s book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ to explain that actually in terms of the “bad” and the “good” people in the film, it is not necessarily the Germans who were the “bad” and the prisoners were the “good”. The prison guards likewise were imprisoned by fear for if they did not fulfill their duties, they too would be killed; the prisoners were reduced to animals in the sense they felt their freedom of choice removed; yet all despite one’s circumstances as human beings, we must acknowledge we have the freedom to strive for the truth.
WYA members agreed that the film was very important; it is through watching films like this that we realize that the people who committed these crimes are human beings just like ourselves. Agnes King also added that all to often we as human beings are happy to follow along with others, without really reflecting whether the routine actions we make are really a reflection of what is right. WYA members concluded that even despite the portrayal of the extent of human evils, the film is, above all, an expression of hope: the father shows that through an expression of his human qualities, he is capable of making a difference in a situation of evil.
The film seems to have had a good effect on everyone. Indeed, even WYA Europe members of staff are now greeting each other in the morning with a simple “Buongiorno principessa!” We warmly encourage our members and friends who live far from Brussels or were unable to attend our film screening this month to watch this fantastic movie with friends and family, and if possible to discuss the ideas after.
We look forward to hearing your opinions and ideas about the film: email us at email@example.com , or write to us on our Facebook page.
You can read Agnes’ blog entry about Life is Beautiful here.
Our next movie screening will take place on 19th February, when we will show a documentary on gendercide titled ‘It’s a Girl’.