Grade Level 8th
Movie Review (“Life is Beautiful”)
Background: During WWII the Nazis were essentially fighting two wars: one against the Allies which included the 10th Mountain Division and the other against the people of Europe they considered unworthy. Included in this second group were European Jews and the atrocities against them became known as the Holocaust. The 10th Mountain Division did not liberate any of the “concentration camps” but they did fight in areas where the Nazi’s inflicted a number of atrocities upon the Italian people. The purpose in viewing “Life is Beautiful” is to give the student a better understanding to one of the reasons of why we fought the Nazis by providing a gentler option of Holocaust study. This Award-winning Italian film tells the story of one family’s experience during the Holocaust.
1) To introduce the concept of the Holocaust through viewing the movie “Life is Beautiful.”
2) to present a timeline of WWII events in Italy
3) to write a reflective essay on selected Holocaust outcomes from the movie, Life is Beautiful
- Complete the Life is Beautiful Before You Begin worksheet.
- Review the Timeline of Events: World War II in Italy
- Read Life is Beautiful Background Information sheet
- Follow the directions from the Essay Prompts sheet
- Upon Completion, follow the “Directions for submitting this activity.”
You’ll be able to SUBMIT all your answers online by using a form at the end of this lesson. OR Print out the lesson in .pdf and submit your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Life is Beautiful – Before You Begin Worksheet
Before viewing the movie, answer the following questions.
- The title of this movie is Life is Beautiful. What does the title make you think?
- Based on the title, what do you think this film will be about?
- What do you know about this film?
- Jot down a few things you know about events in Europe during WWII.
- Jot down a few things you know about events in Italy during WWII.
- Is there anything you would like to know? (What questions do you have? What are you wondering?)
Viewing the Movie
In order to view this movie, you will need to borrow one from a nearby library or, rent or buy the movie from one of your internet providers. The film is in Italian with English subtitles or you might be able to see the movie in English (dubbed).
Before watching the movie look over the three essay prompts below. After watching the movie you will select one of the three prompts and write a thoughtful essay. By knowing the prompt before watching the movie you can jot down some of your thoughts and ideas as you watch the movie.
- Is Guido the typical “hero” for a film or story? In what ways is Guido a typical hero or not? Does your opinion of his heroism change by the end of the film? Why or why not?
- There’s an old adage that claims “Opposites attract.” Discuss how that saying applies to Guido and Dora’s relationship. Why do you think their relationship works so well?
- At the end of the film Life is Beautiful, Giosue proclaims, “Abbiamo vinto!” (We won!)
Author of Night, Holocaust survivor, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel once said, “There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win. ” Comment on the final words of the film. Relate Giosue’s words to Elie Wiesel’s quote.
Did Giosue and his mother really “win”? Why or why not? How? Can there really be a victory in this type of situation?
After watching the film create a Word document. Indicate the number (1, 2 or 3) of the prompt you selected and write a thoughtful essay on the prompt. Be sure to support your claims with examples from the movie.
Beneath your essay write any other thoughts or comments you have about the movie or about completing this activity. Title this section “Final Comments.”
We would like to include a photo of all students who complete an activity in the next edition of the 10th Mountain Division Association newsletter, the Blizzard but will need parental/guardian permission. If you would like your photo included, please have a parent or guardian indicate beneath your mailing address their permission. Include a photo with your submission.
We hope you have enjoyed completing this activity and hope that is has given you a better understanding of the Holocaust and why our soldiers were fighting in WWII. We also hope you will continue to complete activities designated for high school!