Life is Beautiful, Pather Panchali, Fahrenheit 9/11, Shrek

I had a great weekend last week by watching the movies viz., Life is Beautiful, Pather Panchali, Fahrenheit 9/11 and Shrek. Each one is best in its own genre.

Life is Beautiful

Well, it won 3 Oscars out of 7 nominations. Best Dramatic Score, Best Actor and Best Foreign language film and it deserves all the three. Jury may intentionally nominate and give Oscars to foreign language films even in main categories to prove that it is the most prestigious recognition in the world. But in the process, we people get to know some of the rare gems that may have gone unnoticed otherwise. Really, if it was not nominated for Oscars, I might have not known about this beautiful Italian movie called “Life is Beautiful”. The image of Roberto Begnini (actor, producer and director of the movie) madly running around in the auditorium on the announcement of him winning the Oscar is still fresh in my mind.

It is about an Italian family (Guido, Dora and Joshua) that lived happily until Second World War started in Italy but it is after which the movie starts to take its unique path. The first half is usual boy-meets-girl, fell in love and get married stuff but it is pure fun. The fantasy filled tricky screenplay makes this otherwise ordinary plot in the first half of the movie very entertaining.

When you take up war as a backdrop in a movie, it is likely to be an emotional drama packed with sufferings and pain of the victims. This movie has got that too but the treatment is very different. I think the major plus point of the movie is that it is able to arouse a kind of mixed emotions in the audience (you cry and laugh) all at the same time. Well, as far as I remember, I haven’t had such an experience with any of the other movies that I have seen so far. There is a sequence that creates very high impact with such mixed emotions.

When Guido was working as a bearer in a hotel, he makes friendship with a doctor who is obsessed with riddles. Many a times, Guido helps the doctor to solve the riddles. Now, when Guido is in the concentration camp, this doctor who is a Nazi comes to check the health condition of the prisoners. Though initially he pretends like he doesn’t know Guido, later he says Guido that he wants to speak to him in secret. Guido is on high expectation that the doctor would help him and his family to escape from the prison. When they finally meet, doctor asks him another riddle “duck-quack-woof’ kind of stuff and this is for what doctor said Guido to meet him in secret. In this scene, you realize on one side how funny the situation is especially by the way the doctor tells the riddle and how tragic the situation when you see the face expression of Guido loaded with disappointment after the only hope turned hopeless. A classy situation and performance to say the least.

The struggle of Guido to protect his kid and also to hide the real situation from his kid Joshua is what that drives the whole plot. Though it is highly fictious, it is convincingly presented. It does give lot of opportunities for twists in the second half. The climax is really touching with the kid feeling happy for winning the tank without knowing the sacrifice that his dad has made for him to have this feeling all his life. But I don’t understand whether Dora knows what happened to Guido. Dora’s expression in the climax is quite ambiguous.

The performances are top notch. Roberto Begnini as Guido steals the show by his energetic performance. The female lead (don’t know her name) has nothing much to do except stare with surprise and sob a little bit in the second half. The kid who did the role Joshua is impressive with his cute expressions.

The movie is technically at par. The production design and costumes gives an authentic period look to the movie. Background score really elevates the proceedings. The main love theme is very pleasant and soothing to listen.

Life is beautiful is beautiful in all aspects.

Will write my thoughts on other movies later.

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