Roberto Benigni plays Guido Orefice, an Italian Jewish bookshop owner, who employs his fertile imagination to shield his son from the horrors of Nazis in a fictional story deemed factually accurate. Orefice, along with his wife Dora and their young son were, in the fictional story, sent to a German camp.
This financially successful and highly praised movie has been widely criticized for using comedy to tell a dark terrible tale. Even years after its release, Jewish American comedic filmmaker Mel Brooks spoke negatively of the film in Der Spiegel, noting Benigni, who co-wrote, directed and starred in the film, is a Gentile and had no family die in concentration camps.
Miraculously, like Dora and her son, the movie survived the criticsms and achieved great success. It won three Academy Awards, was privately screened for the Pope and made Benigni a ‘National Hero’ in Italy for telling a fictional account of the Holocaust.
What does the movie Life Is Beautiful get factually correct?
- Many Italian Jews were sent to German concentration camps during World War II. Life is Beautiful depicts Orefice doing some work at the German camp. Jews were required to work at most of the German camps, they were internment and labor camps after all (see map below).
- Guido Orefice has an outstanding sense of humor and is very romantic. Many Italians have an excellent sense of humor. Italians are known for being very romantic and taking risks in pursuing their love interests. Orefice actively pursues his wife Dora before she marries another man, even stealing Dora on a horse at Dora’s engagement party. When they attend an opera we gain further insight into the inspirational cultured warmth of Italians.
What does the movie Life Is Beautiful get wrong?
- Life Is Beautiful is one of many movies which depict a German program of genocide against Jews during World War II. Germany did not commit genocide against Jews during World War II. (See Germany’s War, pp. 340-389).
- The young son is supposedly lucky that he was not gassed because the son refused to take a shower. However, since there were no gas chambers in any of the German concentration camps, the son could not have been gassed in a shower. Similar to Thomas Buergenthal and countless other young Jewish children, the young son was not gassed and survived the war. (See https://www.inconvenienthistory.com/10/2/5482).
- Guido Orefice tells his son in the German camp that everything is a complicated game, and if the son wins the game he will win a tank. While the conditions in the camp during war time conditions were probably quite harsh, the son did not need to play a game to survive the camp since he was not in danger of being gassed or murdered. (See http://www.inconvenienthistory.com/9/4/5160).
- The camp at the end of the movie is liberated by the U.S. Army, and an American soldier allows the son to ride on his Sherman tank. The problem with this scene is that the U.S. Army did not liberate any German camps that even establishment historians claim had homicidal gas chambers. The German camps allegedly having homicidal gas chambers were all located in Poland; these camps were liberated by the Soviet Army. This scene proves that no one in this German camp was gassed, since there were no gas chambers in which to gas people. (See Germany’s War, pp. 382-385).
- Life Is Beautiful has a scene in which the son says the Germans make buttons and soap out of the inmates. However, even establishment historians have rejected these ridiculous stories. (See Germany’s War, pp. 377-378). Unfortunately, these claims are used to characterize Germans as exceptionally barbaric and American soldiers as heroic liberators. Atrocities by American soldiers are ignored, few know that Roosevelt had a letter opener carved from a Japanese arm bone.
Wears War Movie Verdict for Life Is Beautiful:
Life Is Beautiful is another in a long list of movies reinforcing a scientifically disproved version of WWII history. In many nations, including Italy it is illegal to dispute the Holocaust narrative. Therefore factual errors will not be pointed out when this movie is shown to Italian school children. Roberto Benigni will remain a ‘National Hero’ to them for telling a fictional tale.