Tuesday 12 May 2015

Days 13 - 14 - Life is Beautiful

I can't honestly say if this was my first foreign film or not, primarily because I have seen the X-Men anime series and I don't know if that counts or not. And also because I might have seen another one at some point but just don't remember it. But it was definitely the first foreign film that I've seen because of the challenge.

I decided after watching this movie to just give up on trying to fully comment on this movie without giving anything away about the movie, so I'll start with a vague review and plot summary and then give all my thoughts and such.

This movie followed a Jewish waiter in Italy during World War II. He was quite the character for sure. He was funny and outgoing and the most outrageous character ever. The first half of the film is him pursuing a beautiful young woman whom he eventually woos and marries. The second half of the film is him with his son in a concentration camp. In order to shield his son from the horrors that they are facing, he creates an elaborate ruse that they are in some big game and must earn points in order to win the game.

It was beautifully done and somehow managed to perfectly blend tragedy with comedy, which is really how life should be. It reminded you of some of the horrible things that happened during World War II without sugar coating it but at the same time displayed how great a father's love is for his children and at what length a father will go to in order to protect his son. I highly recommend this movie to anyone, especially people who like World War II era films.


But first (to save you from the spoilers if you fear them), the Amazon link to the video:

There was a moment near the end of the film that was very poignant to me that I keep going back to in my mind, even a week after having watched it. At the beginning, Guido (the waiter) is waiting on a German doctor and they go back and forth exchanging riddles. The doctor is obsessed with riddles and says that one in particular kept him up for days. Then, near the end of the movie, the doctor makes a reappearance and recognizes Guido after he gives the answer to the last riddle the doctor had given him.

The doctor gets special permission for Guido to come and wait on him and the officers he's dining with, and there's a ray of hope that Guido and his son are going to get out of the camp, especially when the doctor sneaks a message to Guido that he wants to talk to him in private. He is urgent and insistent, and eventually the two get a chance to talk privately at the party.

Guido waits with anticipation that he and his wife and son will all make it out thanks to his previous relationship with the doctor, but then the doctor presents him with a riddle: "It's yellow and says quack, quack, quack." But the answer is not a duck, but the doctor is sure that it must be a duck. It's a riddle that has kept him up for weeks now and he begs Guido to help him solve as Guido's face falls into a state of utter hopelessness, confusion, and pain.

It was so powerful to me that here was a man (the doctor) who had formed a friendship with another man, and yet was so caught up on himself and his own pursuits that he completely missed the fact that his friend and his friend's entire family were all in danger of death. Literally. Their lives were literally in danger and the doctor was more worried about solving a riddle.

After some research, I discovered that as the riddle had been presented by a Nazi, the answer was a Jew.

I think the reason this so powerfully affected me is that this is the world we live in today. There are so many people who are alive today that have so much and yet are so worried about getting more that they completely miss the fact that there are people out there that are suffering and dying. People are more worried about their internet being too slow than the AIDs epidemic in Africa. People are more worried about the cost of gas than the hate crimes being committed against Christians around the world. People are more worried about dressing their dog up in the latest fashions than the people that are literally starving to death.

There is a whole world out there, and it is bigger than you and your riddle.

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