Roberto Benigni co-wrote, directed and starred in this (and I don’t use this word lightly) masterpiece about a family of Jewish Italians during the second world war. The film performs a remarkable feat wherein every romantic, hilarious, life-affirming moment serves to heighten the brutal tragedy and despair of the films’s backdrop - that same sense of tragedy and despair however in turn make the romance, the humour and the genuine sense that humanity and love will triumph all the more pronounced.
Benigni plays the clownish Guido, whose irrepressible shows of affection for his wife and son refuse to be dimmed by the horrific treatment they are increasingly subjected to as the film unfolds. The scene I’ve picked here encapsulates the wonderful/heartbreaking spirit of the film, with Guido going to great lengths to try and keep his son’s spirits up by convincing him that they’re part of some big game and the concentration camp is nothing but a playground.
I was going to use the scene in which Guido does a funny walk in front of his son as the latter manages to escape but I found myself genuinely weeping and thought: nobody wants to come away from a flower-buying website with tears in their eyes, do they?
Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights, 2006-2011)