Study Guide

Life Is Beautiful Power

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When you think of Guido in Life is Beautiful, chances are "power" isn't a word that springs to mind. His hair line recedes into wispy curls, his personality is clownish, and his muscle mass would make a peavine look burly in a side-by-side comparison. Seriously, the man looks like he needs a trellis to hold him up.

In many ways, though, Guido's a powerful man. His power doesn't come from strength, and he's got zero political clout or social standing—qualities men like Rodolfo and the soldiers have. Guido's power comes from his intelligence, his joy, and, perhaps most importantly, his willpower.

The man doesn't give up in his pursuit to woo Dora or his efforts to hide the horrors of the camp from his son. In both instances, his imagination and joy are his weapons. And while he can't change the world with this kind of power, he can use it to enrich the lives of those close to him. And that's something…powerful.

Questions About Power

  1. How does the film play with the ideas of power and powerlessness?
  2. How do the Nazis wield power in the story?
  3. Do you think Joshua (and by extension Guido) truly won the power struggle at the film's conclusion? Why or why not?

Chew on This

The camps are set up to show the inmates how powerless they really are.

The film suggests the power of love and life will survive the power of fascism.

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