Guido habitually calls Dora his ‘principessa’ throughout the movie. In this scene, he and his son (on the men’s side of the concentration camp) are using the unattended intercom system to send a message to Dora that they are still alive.
La vita e bella (1997), or Life Is Beautiful, is an Italian motion picture from the wonderful writer, director and actor, Roberto Benigni. Benigni somehow creates a film that is both humorous and heartbreaking. It is set in 1930s Italy and Benigni plays Guido Orefice, a goofy and lovable Jewish book keeper. The first part of the movie follows Guido’s comedic attempts at snagging his wife, the lovely Dora, played by Benigni’s real life wife, Nicoletta Braschi. Of course, the two’s chemistry comes out on the screen, and there is no feasible way to not become invested in the two characters and their adorable son, Giosué (Giorgio Cantarini). The lighthearted first half of the movie isn’t without dark undertones—this is the time of the Holocaust—anti-Semitism, uncertain fear, and the Nazi party are tearing the Orefice’s Italian village apart. And here’s the kicker—Dora is not Jewish, but is the child of a prominent and wealthy Italian Roman Catholic couple. Therefore, when the Nazis report to the Orefice’s home to gather Guido, his son, and Guido’s uncle, Dora makes the ultimate sacrifice and forces the German soldiers to let her board the train with her family, and the four are transported to a concentration camp.
If I get too far until the second part of the movie, I would ruin all sorts of wonderful moments for you, so I hope you’ll soon view the film in its entirety. I have never seen a film that has made me laugh as much as it has made me cry (and it takes a special type of movie for me to have such an all-over emotional reaction). I admit that it was a risky move to make a comedy about the Holocaust, but I promise you that it is done brilliantly. It is an exhibition of the power of unconditional love among a family and I have no doubt that you will come to view Guido as the greatest husband and father that has ever graced the big screen. Benigni is a genius for accurately illustrating the phrase ‘Amor Vincit Omnia.’
Guido pretends to know German and is “translating” the German officer’s orders. He volunteers in order to keep his son believing that their time in the concentration camp is actually a game, with the prize at the end being a military tank. In true little boy fashion, Giosué loves tanks.