Study Guide

Life Is Beautiful Quotes

  • Love

    GUIDO: Now! [A woman falls from the top of the barn. Guido catches her.] Good morning, Princess!

    DORA: How frightening. I almost killed myself. Did I hurt you?

    GUIDO: I've never been better. Do you always leave the house like this?

    Life Is Beautiful starts like all love stories: girl falls out of barn into boy's arms, a roll in the hay, love at first sight, done. At least, that's how most love stories in Hollywood get going. In real life, most love stories start with the boy asking the girl some inane question like, "Which do you like more, Nacho Cheese or Cool Ranch Doritos?"

    DORA: Can we get a chocolate ice cream?

    RODOLFO: Yes, but we'll have to be quick.

    DORA: Why?

    RODOLFO: We have to be at the Prefect's at eight. We were invited to dinner.

    DORA: Where?

    RODOLFO: At the Prefect's.

    DORA: Have pity on me, Lord. Let it not be true. Another dinner at the Prefect's?

    Rodolfo's so obviously wrong for Dora that it makes it all the more awesome when she starts to realize that Guido's got groove.

    Side note: Do you ever wonder what happens to these "he's not the one for you" guys from rom-coms? Like, is there a support group or something?

    GUIDO [to Rodolfo]: Congratulations.

    RODOLFO: Thank you.

    GUIDO [to Dora]: Right this way, Princess.

    RODOLFO: But you're…

    GUIDO: Quickly, Princess.

    [Guido rides off with Dora.]

    RODOLFO: But he's…[Cork pops on the champagne bottle, knocking the ostrich egg onto Rodolfo's head.] He's that jerk with the eggs!

    We finish our rom-com romp with the loving lovers riding off into the sunset on a magnificent steed—or, at least, riding to Guido's place down the street on a green horse. In a normal rom-com, they'd live happily ever after. But this film's not done with the theme of love yet.

    GUIDO: They just don't want Jews or dogs to go in. Everybody does what they want to. There's a hardware store there. They don't let Spanish people or horses into his store. Further ahead, there's a drugstore. I was with a Chinese friend of mine yesterday who had a kangaroo. I said, "May we?" "No, we don't want any Chinese or kangaroos here." They don't like them. What can I tell you?

    JOSHUA: We let everybody into our bookshop.

    GUIDO: No. From now on, we'll write it too. Is there anybody you don't like?

    JOSHUA: Spiders. What about you?

    GUIDO: I don't like Visigoths. Starting tomorrow we'll write, "No spiders and Visigoths allowed." I'm sick and tired of these Visigoths.

    The second part of the movie pulls a switcheroo. While the first half was classic Hollywood rom-com, the second half focuses on a father's love for his son. Specifically, his wish to protect his son from reality's nastier side. Here, Guido uses his quick wit to keep his son from realizing the sad fact that some people will hate him for who he is.

    DORA: There's been a mistake.

    OFFICER: What mistake?

    DORA: My husband and son are on that train.

    OFFICER: What's your husband's name?

    DORA: Guido Orefice.

    OFFICER: Joshua Orefice…and Eliseo Orefice are on that train, too. There's no mistake.

    DORA: I want to get on that train too.

    Guido gets most of the grand gestures of love, but here, we see that Dora's love for her family is truly monumental. Not wishing her family separated, she chooses to go to the concentration camp, despite being an "acceptable" citizen in her society's eyes.

    Life Is Beautiful's second half focuses on the sacrifices we make for the ones we love, and Dora's sacrifice is one of the film's premier examples of selflessness.

    GUIDO: The game starts now. Whoever's here is here, whoever's not is not. The first one to get a thousand points wins. The prize is a tank! Lucky him. Every day we'll announce who's in the lead from that loudspeaker. The one with the least points has to wear a sign saying "jackass" right here on his back.

    Guido's love for his son has him using his wits and imagination to hide the reality of their situation. This time, he has to hide the true nature of the camp, and he makes up this game on the spot with the Nazi guards standing right next to him. It's a difficult charade to keep up, and it takes its toll on poor Guido.

    GUIDO: Anybody here? Am I disturbing? Joshua, come here. Quick as lightening. [into the speaker system]: Good morning, Princess. Last night, I dreamt about you all night. We were going to the movies. You were wearing that pink suit that I really like. You're all I think about, Princess. I always think about you. And now—

    JOSHUA [over the loudspeaker]: Momma! Pop wheels me in the wheelbarrow, but he doesn't know how to drive! We laugh like crazy! We're in the lead! How many points do we have today?

    Yeah, we were screaming at the screen when we saw this scene, too. We mean, it's not like the Nazis would hear that and think, "Well, that's weird. Hey Franz, is it bring-your-kid-to-work-in-a-wheelbarrow day?" No, they'd turn that camp upside down looking for Joshua.

    But let's remember that this story contains fable-like elements to it. The point here is to show the power of love to uplift Dora's spirits, and its use as a weapon against tyranny. So it gets a pass thematically, if not realistically.

    GUIDO [running after a truck]: Is there a Dora here? She's Italian. She's my wife.

    JEWISH WOMAN: Yes, there's a Dora here.

    GUIDO: It's me, Dora. It's not her! Is there another Dora? Jump out of the truck as soon as you can! Get off! Jump out!

    Guido learns from Bartolomeo that the Nazis, knowing the American forces are getting closer, plan to destroy the evidence of their genocide. To protect Dora, he infiltrates the woman's side of the camp to rescue her in another extraordinary act of love. This time, it doesn't pay off. Guido's luck runs out, and he's discovered and dragged off and shot by a Nazi guard.

    NARRATOR: This is my story. This is the sacrifice my father made. This was his gift to me.

    We learn that Joshua is the narrator, all grown up and looking back on his childhood. As a boy, he couldn't have understood the sacrifice his father made. As a man (and maybe a father himself), he gets it. And if you ask us, that's just a pitch perfect ending for both the film and this theme.

  • Warfare

    ORESTE: Goodbye, and behave yourselves because these are hard times. Hard, hard times!

    GUIDO: They're hard times? Why, what are your political views?

    ORESTE: Benito! Adolf! Be good! What did you say?

    GUIDO [hesitates]: I said, how are things going?

    The war is a bit of a relief pitcher in this film. During the first half of the movie, it mostly hangs out in the pen, throwing warmup pitches and waiting for its time to jump into the game. Still, we get a few glimpses of what's to come.

    Here, we learn that Oreste named his sons Benito and Adolf (read: Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler). Oreste seems like a perfectly nice guy; he even goofs with Guido over his hat. So this is a pretty ominous sign that even normal people are becoming Nazi sympathizers.

    GUIDO [laughing]: Naturally! Our race is superior. I've just come from Rome, right this minute to come and tell you in order that you'll know, children, that our race is a superior one. I was chosen, I was, by racist Italian scientists in order to demonstrate how superior our race is. Why did they pick me, children? [Jumps up onto the table.] Must I tell you? Where can you find someone more handsome than me? Justly so, there is silence. I'm an original "superior race," pure Aryan.

    Another hint of things to come. Before Guido showed up to mac on Dora, these children were going to receive a state-sanctioned lesson on their racial superiority. Yeah, that was an actual thing in 1930s Europe.

    See, Mussolini and Hitler convinced their respective countries that their race was superior and that others—notably Jews, Blacks, and Slavs—were inferior. "Untermenschen"—subhumans—was the word they used. Of course, convincing your citizens that they are racially, therefore also morally, superior is an effective way to psych them up for war.

    Guido's hilarious lecture is a send-up of that wrong-headed idea. If you want to read more on the Nazi ideology of race, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has a lesson on that.

    MAESTRO: And now, ladies and gentlemen, a magnificent surprise offered by the Grand Hotel. The Ethiopian cake!

    This not-so-subtle cake is a subtle reminder that Italy's already at war. The Italo-Ethiopian War saw Italy invade Ethiopia and take occupation of the country under Italian rule (Source).

    That war was one of the lead-ups to World War II and came at the height of fascism's popularity in Europe. Essentially, the Italians wanted to have conquest cakes that belonged to other people and eat it too.

    GUIDO: That's it! It's that game where…it's the game…we're all players. It's all organized. The game is the men are over here, the women are over there. Then there's the soldiers. They give us our schedule. It's hard, you know. It's not easy. If somebody makes a mistake, they get sent right home. That means you have to be very careful. But if you win, you get first prize!

    JOSHUA: What's the prize?

    GUIDO: Uh, first prize!

    ELISEO: It's a tank.

    JOSHUS: I already have one.

    GUIDO: This one's a real tank. Brand new!

    Boys play war games all the time. It was a thing even before Call of Duty. Guido uses this to his advantage: he turns the real war into a game to hide the truth from his son.

    JEWISH WOMAN: That one's new. She learned right away. The lady at the door, she seemed nice when she first came. She's the worst of all!

    DORA: At least she didn't send the old ladies and children to work.

    JEWISH WOMAN: They don't send old people and kids to work because they kill them. One of these days they'll call them to take a shower. "Children, shower time!" The truth is, they make them shower there in the gas chamber.

    There are agreed-upon rules to war, and not attacking, enslaving, or exterminating civilians are a few of them. The Nazis ignored the rules. The very old and very young were useless to the Nazis, because they couldn't work. They were usually separated from the rest of the prisoners and killed within hours of arriving at the camps.

    If there's any upside to this truth (and there really isn't, but bear with us), it's the Nuremberg Principles. These guidelines were enacted in 1945 by the International Law Commission to clarify the guidelines for the Nuremberg Trials—the trials that prosecuted Nazi war criminals. They include listing acts of murder and enslavement against civilian populations a war crime and a crime against humanity (Source)

    GUIDO: Come here. Where are we here? I might have taken the wrong way. Good boy, sleep. Dream sweet dreams. Maybe it's only a dream! We're dreaming, Joshua. Tomorrow morning, Mommy will come wake us up and bring us two nice cups of milk and cookies. First, we'll eat. Then I'll make love to her two or three times…if I can.

    Guido comforts his son (and maybe himself) as they walk through the fog, only to come upon a mountain of corpses. This scene takes artistic license with the history. While piles of victims were found, the Nazis mostly cremated their victims or buried them in mass graves in an attempt to hide the evidence of their crimes.

    Here, the image is meant to show the weight of the situation Guido faces in trying to hide these horrors from his son. Being a patriotic citizen of Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, or anywhere in Europe, and suddenly finding yourself in a death camp must have seemed like a nightmare from which you'd desperately want to wake up. Guido's dreams of his sweet former life are definitely tear-jerking.

    [With Joshua watching from his hiding place, Guido playfully goosesteps as the soldier marches him around a corner. Both Guido and the soldier turn the corner. We hear machine gun fire, and the soldier returns alone.]

    Guido becomes a victim of the war. Faced with certain death, he can't defend himself against the soldier's savage force. He can only protect his son's spirit. In this way, the soldier can kill Guido, but he can't defeat him.

    JOSHUA: We won!

    DORA: Yes, we won!

    JOSHUA: A thousand points to laugh like crazy about! We came in first! We're taking the tank home! We won!

    Without firing a single shot, Guido "wins." His son and wife are safe, and his son's love of life hasn't been destroyed.

    Obviously, the reality of the Holocaust and World War II was very different than what is presented in Life Is Beautiful. Two-thirds of Europe's Jews, and tens of millions of other civilians and military forces, were killed. But there were many instances of—pardon the cliché—the triumph of the human spirit, and this is what the film wants to show us.

  • Power

    GUIDO: Nice to meet you. I'm Prince Guido.

    ELEONORA: Prince?

    GUIDO: I'm a prince, I am. All this is mine. Here starts the prince's principate. I'll call this place Addis Ababa. I'll change it all. Out go the cows, in come the camels.

    ELEONORA: Camels?

    GUIDO: Even a few hippopotamus. I must go. I'm meeting with the princess.

    Guido's no prince; he's a waiter. That's about as far on the social ladder from being a prince as you can get. He doesn't have the power to own a principate and fill it with hippos—which, just for the record, is a bad idea. But this is our first clue that Guido's power comes from his princely imagination.

    GUIDO: I need your signature to open a bookstore.

    SECRETARY: Mr. Rodolfo, I told him.

    GUIDO: Just one signature.

    RODOLFO: No, I can't. My substitute will be here in an hour. Ask him.

    GUIDO: All I need is a signature.

    RODOLFO: We close at one here.

    GUIDO: It's ten to one.

    RODOLFO: File a complaint.

    We're getting flashbacks to the DMV? Bureaucracy is still alive and well (fortunately without Nazis, though). By the power of Greyskull, Rodolfo has some clout. As a government official, he has the ability to improve people's lives by, say, letting them open bookstores. Does he use this power for good? Nope!

    LESSING: Urgent telegram. I must go to Berlin immediately. What are these flowers?

    GUIDO: They're for your departure.

    LESSING: I'll take just one. I'll take it to my wife: Guido's flower. I truly enjoyed myself with you. You're the most ingenious…waiter I've ever come across.

    GUIDO: Thank you. You're the customer with the most culture I've ever served.

    LESSING: Thank you.

    In their relationship, Guido and Dr. Lessing appear to be equals. Sure, Dr. Lessing is a doctor and high-ranking official, while Guido's a waiter. But they manage to build a friendship based on mutual respect for the other's intelligence and culture. But can it survive the realities of their social differences? Stay tuned.

    GUIDO: Everything is just fine. I'll pick it all up. I apologize.

    [Dora goes under the table to meet Guido.]

    GUIDO: Princess. You're here too?

    [Dora kisses him.]

    DORA: Take me away.

    Guido may not be as powerful as Rodolfo, but his powers of imagination and charm are exactly what Dora needs. It's Guido one, Rodolfo zero in the final round of this dating game.

    OFFICIAL: You have to come to the Prefect's.

    GUIDO: Again?

    JOSHUA: He already went.

    OFFICIAL: Let's go.

    GUIDO: Why?

    [A man puts his cigarette out on Guido's bookstore window.]

    GUIDO: Is that man with you?

    OFFICIAL: Yes. Let's go.

    Things have gotten worse. Before, Guido had little influence because he wasn't high on the social ladder. Now, he's been stripped of all power simply because he's a Jew.

    JOSHUA: A man was crying. He said they make buttons and soap out of us.

    GUIDO: You fell for that? Again? I thought you were a sharp boy, cunning, intelligent. Buttons and soap out of people? That'll be the day. You believed that? Just imagine. Tomorrow morning, I wash my hands with Bartolomeo, a good scrub. Then I'll button up with Francesco. Oh. Darn it all. Look! I just lost Giorgio. Does this look like a person?  Come on! They were teasing you, and you fell for it. What else did they tell you?

    Here's a great example of the two types of power the film likes to contrast. On the one hand, we have the Nazis, who have the power of life or death over their Jewish prisoners. On the other hand, we have Guido's power of imagination, which he uses to hide the reality of the camp from his son.

    LESSING: So. Pay attention. "Fat, fat, ugly, ugly, all yellow in reality. If you ask me what I am, I answer, 'Cheep, cheep, cheep.' Walking along I go, 'Poopoo.' Who am I? Tell me true." A duckling, right? Is it a duckling? It's not! A veterinarian friend of mine sent it to me from Vienna. I can't send him mine until I solve this one. I thought duck-billed platypus, but it doesn't go, "Cheep, cheep, cheep." A duck-billed platypus goes hiss, hiss, hiss. I translated it into Italian for you last night. Well, what do you say? Everything points to a duckling. Help me, Guido. For heaven's sake, help me. I can't even sleep.

    At first, Dr. Lessing appears to have built a relationship of respect with Guido, but this scene shows the truth of the matter. Lessing has the power to save Guido's life, and he uses that power to force Guido to help him solve a riddle. Like most people with social or political power in the film, Dr. Lessing turns out to be self-interested, rather than selfless.

    U.S. SOLDIER: You have no idea what I'm saying, do you?

    Rolling up in a tank, the American soldier represents the new, benevolent, power structure. The Nazis are toast, the war's over, and Joshua thinks he's won a brand-new tank. Joshua's earnest belief that the tank is his shows that Guido's life-affirming powers of imagination were successful. He kept his son completely unaware of his powerlessness and the danger he was in.

  • Prejudice

    [Men run out of the uncle's home.]

    GUIDO: Uncle!

    UNCLE ELISEO: Barbarians.

    GUIDO: Who were they?

    UNCLE ELISEO: Barbarians.

    GUIDO: Why didn't you cry for help?

    UNCLE ELISEO: Silence is the most powerful cry. Is he your poet friend?

    Guido arrives at his uncle's house to see a bunch of men running out; they've assaulted Eliseo. This is the first open act of prejudice in the story, and it's not entirely clear that the act is anti-Semitic—after all, they could just be random vandals. But it'll be come clear soon enough.

    PRINCIPAL: We know. As you know, the inspector came to Rome to talk to us about the race manifesto signed by the most well-versed Italian scientists. He will, and we're very honored, demonstrate to us that our race is a superior race, the best of all. [Claps her hands.] Take your seats. Go ahead, Inspector.

    GUIDO: Our race—

    PRINCIPAL: Is superior.

    GUIDO [laughing]: Naturally! Our race is superior. I've just come from Rome, right this minute to come and tell you in order that you'll know, children, that our race is a superior one. I was chosen, I was, by racist Italian scientists in order to demonstrate how superior our race is. Why did they pick me, children? [Jumps up onto the table.] Must I tell you? Where can you find someone more handsome than me?

    Do we even need to dive into this one? It's a state-sanctioned discussion on why a nation's race is superior to other races, based on "science," of course. The best part of this racial screed is, of course, that Guido isn't Aryan. He's Jewish.

    ELISEO: The usual barbarians, vandals. It's sad. What nonsense. "Jewish horse."

    GUIDO: Don't get upset. They just did it to—

    ELISEO: No. They didn't do it to…they did it "to." You'll have to get used to it, Guido. They'll start with you, too.

    GUIDO: With me? What could possibly happen to me? The worst they can do is undress me, paint me yellow, and write, "Achtung, Jewish waiter." [Laughs.] I didn't even know this horse was Jewish. Let's go. I'll clean him up in the morning. [To someone else.] Take him back to the stall.

    We learn that this is another anti-Semitic attack on Eliseo through his use of the phrase "usual barbarians," which mirrors his description of the attackers earlier. It's also telling that he refers to them as "usual."

    What we're witnessing are the social restraints being slowly chipped away. Hatred is becoming the norm, and the result will be that the more atrocious acts in the second half of the story will become possible. The Nazis' M.O. was to gradually isolate and demonize the Jews so that their eventual deportation and extermination was just the next "logical" phase.

    PRINCIPAL: Listen to this problem. I remember it because it shocked me. A lunatic costs the state four marks a day. A cripple, four and a half marks. An epileptic, three marks and a half. Considering that the average is four marks a day and there are 300,000 patients, how much would the state save if these individuals were eliminated?

    DORA: I can't believe this.

    PRINCIPAL: That was my exact reaction. I can't believe a seven-year-old child has to solve this kind of equation. It's a difficult calculation. Proportions, percentages. They need at least some algebra to do those equations. That's high school material for us.

    PRINCIPAL: Yes.

    RODOLFO: 300,000 times four. If we killed them all, we'd save 1,200,000 marks a day.

    PRINCIPAL: Exactly. Bravo! But you're an adult. They make seven-year-old children do this in Germany! It's truly another race.

    Another example of the normalization of prejudice throughout this society. The math problem is discussing euthanizing the sick, mentally ill, and other "unfit people" in order to save the state money, and Rodolfo's treating it like he's adding apples and oranges.

    Side note: The idea of killing or sterilizing the "unfit" to improve genetic quality for the rest of a race or nation is called eugenics. Today, we tend to associate the idea with the European fascism of the mid-20th century, but the United States had its own love affair with the idea. In fact, many states passed eugenics laws at the beginning of the 20th century, and California's laws helped inspire Hitler's virulent brand of the social philosophy (Source).

    GUIDO: What time is it? We're leaving right on time. What organization! You've never taken a train, huh?

    JOSHUA: No. Is it nice?

    GUIDO: It's really nice. It's wooden inside. Everybody stands up. There's not one seat.

    JOSHUA: There aren't any seats?

    GUIDO: What? Seats on a train? It's obvious you've never been on one. No, everybody stands real close together.

    To protect his son, Guido pretends that the situation is normal, and sadly, in this society, it is. Over the years of developing its racial policy and spreading hatred, this society has decided this is the proper course of action regarding the Jews and other undesirables—load them into trains meant for cattle.

    GUIDO: These guys are crazy! This has to weigh a hundred kilos! It's got to be 3,000 degrees in here. Vittorino, I can't cope anymore!

    VITTORINO: After only the first one?

    GUIDO: Why, are there more to move?

    VITTORINO: We're here until tonight.

    Nazis see the Jews and other prisoners of the concentration camp as less than human. With this view, they are able to treat them with extreme cruelty, working them to exhaustion and eventual death.

    ELISEO: Are you hurt?

    A man of dignity to the end, Eliseo's willing to help a Nazi officer who falls because he sees her as a fellow human being despite her brutal treatment of him. It's a small act, but it's a heartbreaking scene. The man's a class act.

    JOSHUA: That we get cooked in the oven.

    [Guido laughs tiredly.]

    JOSHUA: They burn us up in the oven.

    GUIDO: You fell for that, too! You just eat everything up. I've heard of a wood oven, but I've never seen a man oven before. "I'm made of wood!" "Take this lawyer!" "This lawyer doesn't burn. He's not dry enough. Look at that smoke!"

    The gas chambers and crematoria of the concentration camps remain a haunting symbol of this horrific event in human history. Although Guido's trying to make light of the situation for Joshua, even the imagery of the words is sickening to contemplate. Warning: This photo of a crematorium can be disturbing. In fact, it should be.

  • Perseverance

    GUIDO: You fell asleep while talking to me! How did you do that?

    FERRUCIO: Schopenhauer.

    GUIDO: Who?

    FERRUCIO: Schopenhauer says that with willpower, you can do anything. "I am what I want to be." Right now, I want to sleep, so I was saying to myself, "I'm sleeping, sleeping," and I fell asleep.

    GUIDO: Amazing. And it's simple. I want to try, too. I'm sleeping, sleeping, sleeping—

    Let's set aside that these two middle-aged men are having the most uncomfortable sleepover ever. Here, the movie introduces the concept of willpower, and how it can help people accomplish their goals.

    GUIDO: Look at me, Princess. Go on, I'm down here. Look at me, Princess. Turn around, Princess.

    Guido tries out his new willpower, um, power, and we see that it works. We're guessing the wavy fingers are optional though. After this scene, Guido sets about winning Dora's heart, and wouldn't you know? That works, too.

    RODOLFO: Just a few words. You already know it all by now, and you've known for several years. Dora and I were born on the same street. We went to school together, we had the same friends. Dora is the woman of my life, and I'm the man in her life; therefore, we've decided to get married within the year. You're all officially invited on April the 9th to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Pellegrino. And then we'll celebrate till dawn all together, right here, just as happy as we are now.

    Rodolfo's willpower, on the other hand, is a total flatline. He doesn't try to win Dora's affections or prove his love for her. He just kind of expects it because that's how it is. He lacks the ability to make any change in his life, and as a result, Dora ditches him for the irrepressible Guido.

    BARTOLOMEO: Do you speak German?

    GUIDO: No. [The officer speaks and Guido "translates."]

    GUIDO: The game starts now. Whoever's here is here, whoever's not is not. The first one to get a thousand points wins. The prize is a tank! Lucky him.

    Drawing from the same willpower he used to win Dora's heart, Guido sets out to protect his son from the horrors of the concentration camp. He decides to play make-believe that the whole terrifying affair is an elaborate game, where the winner gets a real live tank.

    GUIDO: We're going to die here. I can't take it anymore. I'm putting this down. I'll tell them I can't do it. What can they do to me?

    VITTORINO: They'll kill you!

    GUIDO [rises up with renewed strength]: Where does this thing go?

    VITTORINO: Down there.

    GUIDO: Good Lord! I'll never make it!

    Of course, it isn't a game. Guido's life is on the line, and if he doesn't work hard, he will be killed. Mostly we see his perseverance manifest in a clownish energy, but here, we see him pushed to his physical limits.

    JOSHUA [running in]: Pop! Pop!

    GUIDO: Joshua, why are you here? You're not supposed to be here! Go away! Why aren't you with the other kids?

    JOSHUA: They said all us kids have to take a shower today, and I don't want to.

    GUIDO: Go take a shower!

    JOSHUA: No!

    GUIDO: Yes!

    JOSHUA: I'm not going to.

    Speaking of willpower, little Joshua's got a fair amount for a pint-sized procrastinator. Like most young boys, he hates baths and will fight to the bitter end to stay dirty (remember that we saw this earlier in the film, too). Here, the showers prove to be the gas chambers, and Joshua inheriting his father's willpower/stubbornness saves his life.

    GUIDO [into the speaker system]: Good morning, Princess. Last night, I dreamt about you all night. We were going to the movies. You were wearing that pink suit that I really like. You're all I think about, Princess. I always think about you. And now—

    JOSHUA [over the loudspeaker]: Momma! Pop wheels me in the wheelbarrow, but he doesn't know how to drive! We laugh like crazy! We're in the lead! How many points do we have today?

    And let's not forget Dora. She willingly went to the concentration camp to keep her family from being separated, even though as a gentile Italian, she wouldn't have been deported. Guido and Joshua use the intercom system to give her a much-needed burst of encouragement. In Life Is Beautiful, perseverance is sustained as much for the ones we love as it is by the ones we love.

    DOCTOR LESSING: So. Pay attention. "Fat, fat, ugly, ugly, all yellow in reality. If you ask me what I am, I answer, 'Cheep, cheep, cheep.' Walking along I go, 'Poopoo.' Who am I? Tell me true." A duckling, right? Is it a duckling? It's not!

    Doctor Lessing has perseverance, but unlike Guido, he doesn't channel it towards anything positive. His perseverance—it's more like obsession—is solely directed toward his own selfish desire to solve every riddle because…actually, we don't know why. Maybe a riddle made fun of him in high school.

    NARRATOR: This is my story. This is the sacrifice my father made. This was his gift to me.

    In the end, Guido's perseverance pays off. He manages to protect his son, and Joshua survives. Looking back, he sees Guido's sacrifice as a gift, but that sacrifice took enormous perseverance to see it through.