Director: Roberto Benigni
Writer: Vincenzo Cerami (story), Roberto Benigni (story)
Stars: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini, Giustino Durano
Runtime: 116 min
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Released: 12 Feb 1999
Synopsis: In 1930s Italy, a carefree Jewish book keeper named Guido starts a fairy tale life by courting and marrying a lovely woman from a nearby city. Guido and his wife have a son and live happily together until the occupation of Italy by German forces. In an attempt to hold his family together and help his son survive the horrors of a Jewish Concentration Camp, Guido imagines that the Holocaust is a game and that the grand prize for winning is a tank.
Set in late 1930s Arezzo, Italy, Jewish man and poet, Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni) uses cunning wit to win over an Italian schoolteacher, Dora (Nicoletta Braschi) who’s set to marry another man. Charming her with “Buongiorno Principessa”, getting the timing perfect every time and whisking her away on a green horse (don’t ask!) ensures they soon live together happily in Guido’s uncle, Eliseo Orefice’s (Giustino Durano) house. Bringing up their 5 year old boy, Giosué (Giorgio Cantarini), the war continues without them noticing until one fateful day when the Germans arrest Guido and his son at the uncle’s house during preparation for Giosué’s birthday party, and transfer them to a concentraction camp. Dora demands to be taken too, thus Guido is devastated to see his non-Jewish wife board the train.
Protecting his son from the vile truth, Guido tells Giosué that they are just on a big hoilday, and he turns the camp into a big game for Giosué, claiming that they must win 1000 points to win a real tank and leave. His elderly uncle, however, is on a different “team” and is lead towards the showers first. Guido must complete “tasks” for the camp “moderators” (ie. the Nazi SS), while avoiding the impending fate with everything he can offer. His quick thinking saves Giosué from the truth when a German officer requires a translator. Despite not speaking a word of German, Guido steps forward and makes up the “Regole del Campo” from the German’s body language, claiming that tanks, scoreboards and games of Hide and Seek litter the camp, while cleverly stating that Giosué cannot cry, ask for his mother or declared he’s hungry, resulting in the loss of the “game”, in other words, death.
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