Life Is Beautiful (1997) [5/5]

AN UNFORGETTABLE FABLE THAT PROVES LOVE, FAMILY AND IMAGINATION CONQUER ALL.

A touching story of an Italian book seller of Jewish ancestry who lives in his own little fairy tale. His creative and happy life would come to an abrupt halt when his entire family is deported to a concentration camp during World War II. While locked up he tries to convince his son that the whole thing is just a game.

I'll never forget the first time that I saw this film, as it was the first film I'd ever seen to flat out wreck me emotionally, make me burst out into a fit of uncontrollable tears and lose complete command of my motor functions. The ending of the film, for me, is a flashbulb memory and always will be; as the sobs came spilling out and I, quite literally, fell off my bed and onto the floor, my (now deceased) father heard me wailing all the way from downstairs and came rushing up to my room, under the impression that something terrible might have happened.

I can still, so vividly, recall the haste of my father's footsteps -- their speed representative of fear of loss, or tragedy -- running up the stairs to check on his son. He found me laying on the floor, my face soaked in saltwater and asked over and over again, "what happened?" But I couldn't respond... I couldn't manage to utter any words through my sniveling and blubbering.

I wanted to reassure him, put his mind to rest, tell him that it's merely a movie: I'm only crying over a movie. But I was unable to. So he simply held me, until the sobbing eventually stopped and I was able to stand again, able to explain to him that I was alright, that I wasn't (physically) hurt, nor sick, nor in any sort of danger. And he just nodded his head, let out a small sigh, and smiled at me through his diminishing fatherly anxiety.

-Eli Hayes