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Life Is Beautiful explores the power of laughter to lift the human spirit even in the face of extreme tragedy Director Roberto Benigni is able to do this buy taking a fairy tale approach that is both funny and moving but with an unusual shift in tone midway through the film Benigni who plays Guido in the film using humor to deflect criticism and confuse his enemies and watching his adventures we are reminded of Charlie Chaplin Ebert 1 Now lets take a deeper look in to Benignis fairy tale approach in Life is Beautiful Set in Italy in 1939 amid a climate of growing anti-Semitism and fascism in the town of Arezzo a city south of Florence Tuscany in 1939 M Aste 11 Guido is an enchanting Jewish waiter with a fantastic imagination Guido instantly falls for Dora Nicoletta Braschi a beautiful schoolteacher from a prominent family whos inconveniently engaged to a powerful fascist town clerk Guido becomes undeclared rival with Doras fianc Also at the beginning of this film Guido makes friends with a German doctor Horst Buchholz who is a regular guest at the hotel and shares his love of riddles In this first half of the film magic gives Guido a chance to win Doras In town Guido survives by quick improvisation Guido by the fantastic manipulation of carefully planned coincidences he makes it appear that he is fated to replace the dour Fascist in Doras life Mistaken for a school inspector Guido invests a quick lecture on Italian superiority demonstrating the excellence of his big ears and superb navel to impress Dora All of this early material the first act of the film is comedy- much of it silent comedy involving the fate of a much traveled hat Ebert 1 Only well into the film do we even learn the crucial information that Guido is Jewish which I think is done to show
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