Background

Does This Man Really Think the Holocaust Was a Big Joke?
This interview covers Benigni’s upbringing and influences, his vision for the movie, and his justification of its humorous approach to a sombre issue.

Giving a Human (and Humorous) Face to Rearing a Boy under Fascism
A review in The New York Times suggests that while Benigni’s courageous comedy treats the Holocaust with euphemism, it does not trivialize the event.

Israeli Triumph for Italian Holocaust Film
Benigni’s film gets an ovation before its toughest and potentially most critical audience—viewers at the Jerusalem Film Festival.

Alain Elkann Interviews Benigni
Benigni discusses his craft and his inspiration, addressing topics including Chaplin, racism, optimism, and criticism of Life is Beautiful.

Life is Beautiful on IMDb
The online movie resources database provides background information on the award-winning picture.

Critics

Why Life is Not Beautiful in Life is Beautiful
This article catalogues recurring criticisms of the movie, including poor acting, an unrealistic plot, historical inaccuracies, inappropriate humor, and insensitivity to the Holocaust.

Unbelievable Optimism in Life is Beautiful
This reviewer writes that Benigni’s movie is unrealistic and rejects comparisons of the comedic acting to that of Chaplin.

BBC Films Review
The movie gets two out of five stars in this BBC online article because in the view of the author, it lacks historical realism and diminishes the horror of the Holocaust.

An Angry Jewish Column
A Jewish journalist argues that Life is Beautiful is a historical and artistic travesty that presents a revisionist, smiley-face Holocaust rather than the real tragedy of the event.

Benigni’s Life is Beautiful and the Protection of Innocence: Fable, Fairy Tale or Just Excuses?
The author contends that the movie fails to meet the definition of a fable because it provides no life lesson and moral demand to children.

Champions

Roger Ebert Review
The famed critic awards Life is Beautiful 4.5 out of 5 stars, describing Benigni as a Chaplin who uses humour to fight the pain of the Holocaust.

We Laugh So We Don’t Cry: The Humor in Holocaust Films
While Jerry Lewis’ Holocaust comedy The Day the Crown Cried was a flop, Life is Beautiful succeeds because Benigni’s humour is driven by love.

A Controversial but Well-Liked Comedy about the Holocaust
One fan describes Benigni’s movie as a masterpiece that subtly evokes the comedy and tragedy of real life.

Life is Beautiful on Rotten Tomatoes
The movie review website shows that 96 percent of those who saw Benigni’s movie liked it.

Common Sense Media Review
This review website awards the Holocaust comedy five out of five stars for its heart-wrenching story laced with bitter-sweet humor.

Related Topics

Tragicomedy
An overview of the emergence of tragicomedy as a literary genre in Roman literature and its popularization by authors like Shakespeare, Hugo, and Chekhov.

The Diary of Ann Frank
New York Times review of another Holocaust-themed movie involving a young narrator, but one that employed a more sombre approach than Life is Beautiful.

Schindler’s List
Background on Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning Holocaust movie, one of the most successful and critically acclaimed cinematic treatments of the subject.

Other

Benigni Meets Chaplin
This page compares Life is Beautiful to Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator.

Biography of Roberto Benigni
An account of the life and career of Benigni, from the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Holocaust Representation in Robert Benigni and Anita Lobel
The author presents Benigni’s movie as a complex work that uses the artifice of a children’s fable to address an adult audience that already knows the brutal truth about the Holocaust.

Tears of Joy: Crying at the Movies Can Make You Feel Better
A research study finds that movie viewers who shed tears after watching Life is Beautiful experienced a positive emotional boost afterwards.