Brilliantly told comedy with the decency expected of a tale of suffering WW2 Jews.But, it’s not really a film about Jewish incarceration. This delightful, and at times hilarious, comedy is - in the first half – a love story, and – in the second half – a story about a parental love.We are instantly taken away with Guido's (Roberto Benigni)animated personality. He has his eyes set on the local schoolteacher, Dora (Begnini’s real-life wife Nicoletta Braschi), whom he constantly bumps into quite unexpectedly. He calls her his “Princess” and she finds herself infatuated with him, though she is already engaged to marry an arrogant prick. She leaves her fiancé, much to the disgust of her family, and marries Guido. The film skips a number of years towards the end of WW2, where Guido and Dora have a 5 year old son, Joshua (Giorgic Cantarni). Anti-Semitism becomes more obvious and soon Guido and his son are taken to a Concentration camp. To ease the trauma for his son, Guido convinces Joshua that the camp is a game. He says you must follow the rules set by those “mean men who shout a lot”, and every day everyone accumulates points, depending on how well they’ve stayed out of trouble. The first to a thousand points wins a military tank.
For a comedy to be set inside a concentration camp, it certainly is well done. It’s respectable and often had me with stomach cramps. As a footnote, compared to many other societies up until and during WW2 in Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, there was not altogether a lot of Anti-Semitism voiced in Italy. Italians who disliked the Jews, didn't voice their racism as much as the Hungarians or of course Germans. Thus, it may have been easier for an Italian production to grapple the delicate issue of combining comedy with the Holocaust. I’d give the film 5 stars for that alone. But, it was an entertaining, funny flick in its own right.Brilliant film. Not just film of the year - it's better than that.