Evil in Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful

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The Representation of Evil in Roberto Benigni 's Life Is Beautiful
AUTHOR: CARLO CELLI
TITLE: The Representation of Evil in Roberto Benigni 's Life Is Beautiful
SOURCE: Journal of Popular Film and Television 28 no2 74-9 Summ 2000
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When the subject of Life Is Beautiful (La vita è bella) became public knowledge, there was apprehension because of Roberto Benigni 's reputation as a comedian that he might not approach the subject of the Shoah with appropriate sobriety and respect. The film adopted a visual and thematic strategy contrary to the norm in
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The film opens with a depiction of barbaric executions of Jews by Nazis in which the Italian protagonists are forced to consider their own culpability as Italians, Germany 's allies in the war. Wertmüller, like Benigni, was criticized for profaning the Holocaust in the scenes of Pasqualino 's copulation with the camp commandant and Pasqualino 's later insistence on procreation as a means to ensure survival (V. Pezzetti 1-20). As Benigni 's historical consultant on the film, Pezzetti was well aware that ninety-eight percent of the deported children were killed immediately upon arrival at the camps and that the Benigni-Cerami plot in which a parent saves a child in such a setting would have been extremely unlikely. Yet Pezzetti claims that there were cases of children found alive on the liberation of the death camps, including about fifty at Auschwitz who were waiting to be gassed or had undergone experiments.(FN1) After the film was released, stories appeared from survivors deported as children whose testimony seems almost as unlikely as the plot of Benigni 's film.(FN2) According to Pezzetti, some of the most effective Holocaust films have deliberately eschewed depictions of graphic violence and horror to evoke the imagination of

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