“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.” ~Ashley Smith
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Life Is Beautiful (Italian: La vita è bella) – This 1997 movie is the most successful foreign language film in U.S. history. It tells the story of a Jewish Italian, Guido Orefice (played by Roberto Benigni, who also directed and co-wrote the film), who employs his fertile imagination to help his family during their internment in a Nazi concentration camp. It’s a tale of love and self-sacrifice in which the human spirit triumphs over adversity, a tribute to the flame of life that won’t be snuffed out no matter how dark the circumstance.
The first half of the movie is a whimsical, romantic comedy set in the years before World War II. The second half of the movie is a heartwrenching drama set inside a Nazi death camp. To help his son survive and keep his spirits up, Guido employs comic ingenuity and the power of positive thinking. He pretends that they are participants in a “game” in which the grand prize is a tank. Thus, many scenes that might otherwise be frightening or intense are made humorous, poignant, and/or bittersweet. Even though the film creatively employs comedic elements within the tragic subject matter of the Holocaust, this in no way detracts from the seriousness of the story.
Life Is Beautiful won Academy Awards for the Best Original Dramatic Score and the Best Foreign Language Film. Roberto Benigni won the Academy Award for Best Actor. The concept for this movie came from Benigni’s own family history; before his birth Roberto’s father had survived three years of internment at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The movie’s title comes from a quote by Leon Trotsky. In exile in Mexico, knowing he was about to be killed by Joseph Stalin’s assassins, he saw his wife in the garden and wrote that, in spite of everything, “life is beautiful.”
The theme of Life Is Beautiful is not about horror, but hope. Although it’s rated PG-13 for holocaust-related thematic elements, there is no violence or gore to be seen; everything is implied/off-screen. The movie is suitable for children who are old enough to learn about the Holocaust (and are able to read subtitles, as that is the best way to watch this movie). There isn’t even any profanity which is hard to find in a movie these days! Be sure to have a box of Kleenex handy, though.
The great thing about this movie is the overwhelming love that the main character had for his wife and son. (Guido’s wife, Dora, was played by the director’s real-life wife, Nicoletta Braschi.) Guido was a funny guy, but he took seriously his God-ordained duty to protect those with whom God entrusted him. All through the Bible, the husband/father is called upon to be the protector of his family. There is a huge gap in our culture of men who are actually willing to stand up and be the father that God has called them to be. So this movie is both pro-dad and pro-life – which is why I’m featuring it today, since Father’s Day is coming up and it’s “180 Day” today.
The mass-murder of at least 6 million Jews and 5 million other “sub-humans” and “useless eaters” – including as many as 1.5 million children – was lawful in Hitler’s Germany. Today we would say that’s awful. And yet there’s a modern Holocaust going on right now in America. It too is legal! This Holocaust is abortion: the killing of unborn human babies. Since the legalization of abortion in 1973, there have been approximately 50 million abortions performed in the United States. There are two ways you can fight the holocaust of abortion. The first is by watching the 180 Movie. It will give you a whole new perspective on abortion. The second is to please pass it on. Many of those who view the 180 Movie do a complete 180 themselves and become pro-life!