August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

STARRING Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giustino Durano, Sergio Bustric, Marisa Paredes

DIRECTED BY Roberto Benigni

It’s a sure sign we’re approaching millennium madness: The Grand Jury prizewinner at this year’s Cannes film festival was Benigni’s concentration-camp comedy. Actually, the Miramax film is a lot more heartwarming than it sounds. Benigni stars as an Italian Jewish father who protects his young son (Giorgio Cantarini) from the horrors of internment by pretending the whole thing’s just an elaborate contest to win an army tank. The comedy is what Cinema Paradiso might have looked like were it made by the Marx Brothers. As for the controversial subject matter? ”I wanted something extreme, and the Holocaust is the most extreme thing that ever happened,” says Benigni, who also cowrote the script. ”I also wanted to make the point that life is beautiful and funny even in the moments right before we die.” (Oct. 23)

THE LOWDOWN In the moments before the best foreign film Oscar is handed out next year, you’ll probably hear Life Is Beautiful among the nominees.

type
Movie
mpaa
PG-13
director
Roberto Benigni
Cast
Roberto Benigni,
Giorgio Cantarini,
Nicoletta Braschi
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