A Summary of the Movie "Life Is Beautiful"

by Mitchell Land

"Life Is Beautiful" is an Italian film from 1997 originally called "La vita è bella." The film was released in the United States on October 23, 1998. The movie was directed by Roberto Benigni and written by Vincenzo Cerami and Roberto Benigni. Roberto Benigni also stars in the film alongside Nicoletta Braschi and Geiogio Cantarini. "Life Is Beautiful" won three Oscars.


"Life Is Beautiful" begins in Arezzo, Italy, in 1939. The protagonist is a Jewish bookkeeper named Guido Orefice. He is in love with a school teacher named Dora, and she leaves her current relationship for him. They marry and have a son, Giosué. When German forces occupy Italy, the boy has turned five, and the social climate for Jews deteriorates quickly.


Guido ran a successful bookstore before Nazi occupation, but his store is closed down, and his neighbors shun him. It is not long before the Nazis begin collecting Jews for the concentration camps. Guido, Giosué and Uncle Eliseo are forced to join many other Jews on a train to one of the camps. Dora is Italian and is not collected, but she volunteers to join her husband and child.


Dora is placed on the women's side of the concentration camp. Guido stays with Giosué and protects him. The father distracts the son from the horrors all around by convincing the child with his sense of humor that the whole place is one big game. Some actions gain points while others lose points, and the first to gain 1,000 points wins a tank. The ploy works for a long time, in which the child hides during the day to escape detection.


As the American forces begin to win battles and approach German concentration camps, there is a mad rush by the Nazis to clear out the camps. Guido tells the son to stay in a box until everyone in the camp has left, and he will win the tank. Guido is unable to find Dora, and when a Nazi guard finds him running around, the father is taken away from the center of the camp and shot. Giosué survives and believes he has won when an American tank approaches.

About the Author

Residing in Bristol, Va., Mitchell Land began writing for various websites in 2010. He worked as a writing center tutor at Baylor School for three years, where he also contributed music reviews to "Baylor Notes." He attends Greensboro College in North Carolina and studies theater and French.