I know of the Holocaust as an era that is of unfathomable pain. To bring out humour or even simply light-heartedness out of such an experience takes courage and artistry. I say courage because no one would want a negative experience to be a subject of laughter. I say meticulous artistry in order to turn complexity to simplicity and to extract contradictory emotion from an already deep-seated one.
Such is the courage of an artist. Such is the artistry of a Benigni.
Life & Love
The monetarily challenged Guido pursued the elite teacher, Dora. It was a classic struggle of a poor aficionado wooing a figure from an affluent descent. Persistence paid off through reciprocated love and eventually union. The love story was unsophisticated, comical, and poignant. The unsophistication surfaced out reality and the comic breathed life in itself. As I followed the movie where they steadily lived life together like ordinary married couples do, I was moved. The light narration was simply too charismatic not to follow.
Life & Oppression
The familiar sight of the holocaust was already unattractive. The movie again opened windows to the infamous era, to wounds of the past, and to a people oppressed. It was so hard to laugh when I knew (everybody knows) that it was certainly a life not so beautiful. Living in a concentration camp and being dehumanized were horrific.
Again, the simplicity, comic, and the poignancy held me to my seat. What brought more poignancy to it was now, I was seeing love that was lived and not said. The love of a father to his son and the love of a husband to his wife were faultlessly animated. I thought of how many unsung Guidos could have been in the holocaust. I wonder how they could be remembered. I wonder that, indeed, there were many Guidos who made life so beautiful even amidst the holocaust.
Life Made Classic
I was brought to tears by this epic struggle of lovers, of parents, and of citizens. It was entertaining, insightful, and delightful. Indeed, the movie sensitively re-told a negative experience, earnestly engaged humour, and tastefully portrayed life’s horrors.
In the end, the lessons of the movie go beyond holocaust. It’s about humans that make life out of life. It’s about life that make human out of humans.