Discs Are Rated
Life Is Beautiful (La Vita é Bella)
review by Zach B.
Starring Robert Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Written by Vincenzo Cerami and Roberto Benigni
Directed by Roberto Benigni
Retail Price: 39.99
Features: "Making Life Beautiful" Featurette, TV Spots,
Specs: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby
Digital English, 5.1 Dolby Digital Italian, English
Captions, Chapter Search
Making about 60 million dollars at the box office, "Life
Is Beautiful" is the most successful foreign film (in the
United States, of course) of all time. Indeed it is an art
house movie, not something that most audiences will have
knowledge of or put up with. Yet rave reviews poured in, and
it all caught on, making this film highly popular and
Roberto Benigni a household name.
I saw "Life Is Beautiful" long before it got popular. I
saw a trailer for the film, and it looked interesting, and I
ended up seeing it and giving a good hearty review to
everyone I knew. Yet soon nominations came in for awards and
all, and the hype on this film began for awards and such.
Benigini, known for such classic Italian films such as
"Johnny Stechinno", co-wrote, directed and starred in this
movie, which shows a father's love for his son. The film was
criticized for the whole Holocaust setting, but this is what
makes the movie work. Anyhow, if you don't know the story,
the film is basically divided into two parts. We first meet
Guido, a man, with his friend who moves into town while
staying at his uncle's house. He meets a beautiful girl who
he keeps bumping into (literally), but she's engaged to
someone else, who she doesn't like. Guido rescues her and
wins her heart, and they have a son a few years later.
However, Nazis have invaded, and Guido and his son are sent
to a concentration camp. Guido's wife, though not Jewish,
asks to be sent as well. Guido, who loves his son and family
very much, creates a game. They need to earn points to win.
This protects his son from the truth, and makes things
fun... for his son at least.
"Life Is Beautiful" is a film not about the Holocaust,
but more about family, and as I said, the father's love for
his son. Though I like the film, I felt at times it did drag
on and that after all the hype, it was really over-rated.
Still, if you've never seen the movie, I encourage you to
check it out. It's a unique and excellent foreign film. The
DVD release, however, is a bit disappointing.
A nice non-anamorphic transfer by Disney. Presented in
1.85:1 widescreen, Life is Beautiful features nice detail
and good use colors. However, there is some unsaturation at
points, as well as a few artifacts. Things at times appear
faded. Still, it's a pretty good transfer.
Life Is Beautiful has a Dolby Digital 5.1 track in
Italian or English. The film has a beautiful score, and
thankfully, is brought to full life here with additional
channels. Dialogue is clear, and even though the film is
dialogue driven, there are some loud sounds. The loud sounds
could have sounded better for what they are, but they are
fine. The English, I don't suggest you watch, but rather see
the film it was meant to be. The English version, which I
hardly watched, has a horrible dubbing job which I can't
stand. The only reason an English dub was created because
Disney wanted to make more money off the film. The dub was
released in only a couple of theaters, and they wanted to
expand it if it was succesful, but luckily, it was not. They
felt they could have reached more of an audience for people
who don't like subtitles or can't stand reading. Heh. But
it's there if you really, really want to see it.
Disney makes us wait a little after the year's theatrical
release for a "Miramax Collector's Series". This disc
doesn't live up to the title at all. My guess is that since
it's such a high profile film, they wanted the appearence to
be special. Anyhow, there is some stuff...
First off, there is a half hour featurette entitled
"Making Life Beautiful". It's strictly promo fluff,
and is good for a watch once.
Next, there is the Theatrical Trailer. This was
the one which made me want to see the film in the first
place, and it is a good trailer I guess.
Finally, all the TV Spots can be found on the
disc. They are all in a big clump, not highly organized like
in the menus of
Hunting: Collector's Series. Still, they are there in
case you want to relive them again.
While the movie is good, this DVD isn't as good as it
could have been. For a steep 39.99 retail price, the picture
and sound is nice, but the lack of features make it a little
of a toss-up.
(4/5, NOT included in
(2.5/5, NOT an average)