Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Life is Beautiful

A couple of nights ago I watched Roberto Benigni in "Life is Beautiful," a movie I have been meaning to watch for some time now. I was not sure what it was about going in, and admittedly, almost turned it off after several minutes because of Benigni's silliness throughout the first part of the movie. I halfway thought it was some slapstick style comedy, but then remembered it received several oscar wins and nominations a while back so plowed through. By the end, I was glad I plowed through.

If you haven't seen it, I recommend that you do. It ends up being a beautiful story about the Holocaust - a concept that seems paradoxical at best I admit. But it is...the flying dust particles made a cameo at the end of the movie because of the emotions that even a somewhat light-hearted, more than likely unrealistic look at the Holocaust cannot subdue from the realities and horror of the Holocaust.

For most of the movie, the title made sense - a man's life goes just as he wants it, gets the girl, has a cute kid, fulfills his dream of opening a bookshop, and all the while has fun. But then the characters end up going to a concentration camp, where the title doesn't make much sense.

Of course, as I do with almost everything that interests me now, I looked up the movie on Wikipedia. It turns out that the title comes from a quotation out of Leon Trotsky's testament shortly before he was assassinated in Mexico. If you don't know, Trotsky was one of the leaders in the early days of the Soviet Union who then had a power struggle with Joseph Stalin. That struggle led to Trotsky fleeing Russia and later being killed by Stalin's people. The quotation from his testament reads:

Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full.

The title of the movie seems appropriate now. A declarative sentence, followed by an imperative sentence. I don't think we as a society, during the time of the Holocaust or now, can declare something such as "Life is Beautiful" without following that declaration with an imperative along those lines - let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full.

I am afraid that we, Trotsky's future generations - have accepted the fact that life is beautiful without feeling as much urgency to cleanse the world from it's evils. Racism, Sexism, Classism, Darfur, Poverty, the list continues endlessly...

Let us remember that life is sacred, and beautiful. Let us also do what we can to ensure that this declaration is true for all.


Blogger Liz said...

I think this may be your best post yet Adam. I LOVE that movie! If the dust particles hadn't made a cameo, I would have thought you to be cold-heart and emotionaly dead inside. Glad to hear you are the same sensitive guy I know!

1:02 PM  

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