Friday, October 31, 2008

Life Is Beautiful (La Vita è bella)


Today I pretty much forced my Film Club of 11- and 12-year-olds to watch Life Is Beautiful. They were hesitant, you see...what with it being sub-titled...and "old" (its 1999 release apparently qualifies for that description).

I hoped that at its end they would nod and say, "I see why you like it, although it's not my favourite", or "That wasn't so bad". I was not ambitious in my expecations because I was driven more by a desire to expose them to foreign film because I feel little film-lovers should watch foreign films, full stop (two club members confessed it was their first foreign language film, and the rest said it was their second or third; it feels goooooooood to shape young minds).

I was thrilled to sit at the back of the group and watch them smile, clap, tense, laugh, and exchange looks with each other. I had no idea it would go down so well with this age group. Their final, thoughtful remarks of reflection startled me.

Their response consolidates my feelings about this film.

I love it.

I often refuse to pick a favourite film or novel, because I find such a task near impossible - as different texts are favoured for different things. But if forced to do so for film, I would so name Life Is Beautiful.

I watched this with my beloved sister, Erika, for the first time some years ago, and I remember distinctly the impression I was left with upon its close; awe. This is not to say the film is cinematically perfect, or even near to it...rather it satisfies all that I want from a film.

This viewing, (my second), I came to an even greater appreciation of this film's humour (as a result of my students' giggling).

I can say no more of its subject matter, and recommend, if you have not seen it, that you read nothing more about it, just rent it; the less you know the better.
P.S. Check the DVD is subtitled (dubbing is evil).
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