Life is Beautiful

What does this 1997 film, set in fascist Italy during WWII, tell us about the gathering threat in Northern Italy for its Jewish citizens, and how the main character, Guido and his family cope with it? Why does the film explore the Holocaust in the guise of one half of the film being a romantic comedy, the latter being a tragic portrayal of life in an extermination camp? How does Guido protect his young son, Joshua from the harsh reality of antisemitism in Fascist Italy? How does he use deception to protect his son from realizing the true nature of the labor/extermination camp? How does Dora, a gentile, exhibit great love and courage in her insistence on being allowed to board the same train taking her husband and son to the camp? What is the nature of the “game” Guido tells Joshua is actually going on in the camp? What does the alleged ‘game’ have to do with the fact they were taken to the camp on Joshua’s birthday? How does Guido take advantage of Joshua’s fascination with tanks in order to carry out his deception and protection of Joshua? What criticisms did this film garner? How does it illustrate human resilience and love? How does this film illustrate the controversy and utility in using popular culture for keeping historical awareness of events like the Holocaust alive?

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