All you need is love. The Beatles sang it, so it must be true. Say what you will about George, but Paul wouldn't lie to us, right? And Life Is Beautiful agrees with the Beatles.
More than anything else, love connects the seemingly disparate romantic comedy and Holocaust drama parts of the story. Guido's story starts with a quest for the love of the beautiful and charming Dora. He succeeds thanks to his joie de vivre, his love of life, and a little bit of luck.
Several years later, Guido and his son, Joshua, are deported to a concentration camp for the crime of being Jewish (more on that in the "Prejudice" and "Warfare" sections). Because Guido loves his son and wants to hide the reality of the camp from him, he fabricates a story where what happens in the camp—the forced labor, the lack of food, the brutality of the guards—is just an elaborate game.
He suffers a lot trying to keep his son ignorant while he's living the reality of the camp. Out of love, he sacrifices everything.
Love, in this film, is why life is beautiful after all.
Questions About Love
What character (or type of character) seems to best represent love? What does this character(s) tell you about love?
What character (or type of character) seems disconnected from the theme of love? What does this character(s) tell you about the use of the theme in the film?
Guido obviously loves his son, but do you think Guido's love causes him to act in Joshua's best interest at the concentration camp? Why or why not?
Chew on This
In this film, love equals self-sacrifice.
It's Joshua's love for his father that makes him believe that the whole extermination camp is one big game.