Life Is Beautiful, But Not For Jews

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Roberto Benigni's romantic comedy Life is Beautiful enjoyed tremendous success everywhere it was shown. In addition to winning almost every possible film award, including three 'scars, lavish praise and film reviews, it grossed over a quarter of a billion dollars—the most profitable Italian movie ever. Very few have questioned the movie—until now. With sharp, uncompromising logic and eye-opening insight, Niv analyzes the film and its script scene-by-scene to show why Life is Beautiful is very far from being the innocent, charming, and heartwarming film it appears to be. The author argues that the film not only lends support to the central arguments of Holocaust deniers, but is actually a quasi-theological, Christian parable which seeks to justify the extermination of Jews in the 20th century as divine punishment for the sin of the crucifixion of Jesus two thousand years ago. Life is Beautiful, But Not for Jews is a riveting book that simply and concisely raises some important and complex ideas about film and psychology in post-Holocaust civilization. It also serves as an elementary course in the appreciation of films and artistic texts in general and in deciphering their deeper meanings, teaching the reader to more clearly grasp the hidden significance of cultural processes. This is the first English translation of the Hebrew text.

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Editorial Reviews

Books and Literature Weekly Review
A thought-provoking book...[it] has fascinating things to say about filmmaking in general as a way for Western culture to bleach the moral stain of the Holocaust.
— Orit Prague
Niv's book is an amazing text that presents its reader with a brilliant analysis, a book that blows your mind. In my opinion it should be required reading.
— Dudi Ben-Aroya
A brilliant argument...Kobi Niv mordantly deconstructs the secret of the box-office success of Roberto Benigni and his film.
— Meir Schnitzer
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810848757
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2003
  • Series: The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series , #107
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 136
  • Product dimensions: 0.44 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 5.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Kobi Niv is head of screenwriting studies at the Department of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University, and teaches scriptwriting at the Department of Communication Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and at the Film Department of the School of Arts at Beit Berl College. In addition to writing for several Israeli newspapers and television comedy programs, he has also authored feature films, award winning plays, children's books, and books on scriptwriting and film analysis.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Acknowledgments Chapter 2 Dedication Chapter 3 Before I Begin Chapter 4 1. Hitler's Holiday Camp Chapter 5 2. Reality as Fairy Tale Chapter 6 3. See No Evil, Hear No Evil Chapter 7 4. A World Without Jews Chapter 8 5. Annihilation as Salvation Chapter 9 6. Gift and Sacrifice Chapter 10 7. What Is This Film About, Anyway? Chapter 11 Afterthoughts: Success Does Not Lie Chapter 12 About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2014


    I saw the movie once and i started crying and then i couldn't finish it. The first half was really funny

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2004

    A splendid book

    I just want you to read what the Israeli leading writer Amos Oz wrote about this book: 'This book is not only a thorough study of the subterranean prejudices in Benigni`s celebrated film, but a brilliant, penetrating 'screening' of the cinematic language in general, and of how an 'innocent' 'well-meaning' comedy can easily become a vechile for dangerous racist stereotypes. I read it with fascination - it is a splendid book.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2003


    I have already read the book in its original Hebrew version, and it is a fascinating and enlightening book, not only on Benigni`s movie, but about understanding movies in general.

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