King Guido

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 10th grade February 2008

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King Guido and His Sacrifice Roberto Benigni is a man of many talents: his greatest being the gift of laughter. He co-wrote and starred in the 1997 Award Winning, Italian movie, Life is Beautiful (La Vita è Bella in Italian), a film that will forever be remembered. Benigni plays Guido Orefice, a man whose features are comical, rather than handsome, but he fits the part of Guido, a part that Brad Pitt could never master because Hollywood looks for Brad Pitt: talent looks for Benigni. The nose, the eyes, the hair, the smile, the talent. This is all part of Guido's charm.

In the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to Guido and his traveling partner, neither more serious than the other. When their car breaks down, Guido meets his "princess" Dora, and his fate is set. Here enters the love story of two people, fated to be with each other, whether in a time of peace or a time of war.

Guido is a Jewish waiter, who moves into his uncle's house while he tries to open his own bookstore and woo Dora, a schoolteacher. Their romance is a delight to watch, as Guido secretly sets up each of their encounters. This is perhaps one of the greatest love scenes in recent movies, troubled periodically by the hints of violence to come.

Once Dora and Guido consummate their marriage, five happy years pass by with their son Giosué. In the beginning, he acts too old for a five year old, but as the film continues, he plays the part extremely well. Guido never lets his son be touched by the prejudice that the German's show towards them. As Guido and Giosué, along with their uncle, are taken to the concentration camps, the protective father figure stands out in Guido's actions to shield his son from the hatred the Germans feel towards the Jews. In this instance, bold determination and love outweigh the lack of physical strength Guido possesses. Still maintaining the wit and charisma this story was born to tell, there is a definite undertone of hopelessness once Guido and his son are taken to their sleeping quarters, the love he has for his son is obvious. He wants to hide the fact that they are Jews because he wants his Giosué to have as happy a life as Guido can give him. Even when the other Jews have been led into the background of the story, Guido is still there, still keeping a smile on his face and his toes light on the ground as he searches for a way to get them out of the camp.

In many ways, this film depicts a far more disturbing image of violence without actually showing it, than the visual, graphic images that Benigni could have given us. Instead, he gave us the ability to use our minds to envision what the people may have gone through in the camps.

In the light of one of the greatest comedic moments during the whole film, when an officer leads Guido into an alleyway, an opposite feeling compels the viewer to react with mixed feelings. The moment of Giosué's happiness at seeing the huge "tank" reminds us why Guido gave his life for his son's, although the moment is quickly lost when mother and son are happily reunited, but without what they held close to their hearts: the wit and charm that their husband and father had radiated.

The best thing about this movie is that it centers on the family and the laughter, yet still maintains a sense of the tragedy that the Jews went through. This story is heart whelming, adding to it a mixture of melancholy and laughter that hits deep. This movie can leave the whole family feeling good inside with the memories that Guido gave us.