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Life is Beautiful [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Italian, English, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: PG
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Run time: 113 Mins.
  • Studio: Miramax/StudioCanal
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 2, 2012
  • RRP: £19.99

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B006C12Q9O[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

Roberto Benigni’s award wining film (1999 Academy Award/ Best Actor in a Leading Role Roberto Benigni; Best Foreign Language Film; Best Music, Original Dramatic Score Nicola Piovani), La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful) is a wonderful cinematic achievement and a testament to the human spirit. An irresistibly charming comedy/drama about love, courage, and endurance under the worst of pressures, Benigni took his comic routine into the most unexpected places and came out on the under side marked with genius.

The story tells of a free spirited Jewish Italian in 1930s Italy, Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni), who arrives in Tuscany to work in his uncle’s restaurant as a waiter. He serendipitously keeps bumping into a beautiful woman, Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), whom he dubs Princess and romances her in the most spectacular ways. Eventually, the two marry and they have a son together. A few years of marital bliss pass, but as World War II sets in, antisemitism prevails. Guido, his son Joshua, and his uncle are rounded up to be sent away to the work camps. Dora, a non-Jew, demands to be sent on the train with them, and she is. The couple are disastrously separated for their whole detainment, but Guido, forever the hero and free spirit, refuses to allow his son to suffer the emotional harms of the camp and convinces the youngster that it is all just a game – they must get a thousand points to win and be awarded a real tank at the end, if they outlast everyone else.

From the lush, glamorous sets and sun soaked landscapes of Tuscany to the dreary and dire concentration camp, Life is Beautiful is beautifully filmed, but it is the effortless humor, even in the most serious of situations, from Roberto Benigni that makes the film so enjoyable and heartwarming. One particular scene, after first arriving at the camp, when Benigni feigns knowing German and translates a Nazi officers commands in order to shield his son from the reality of the situation is both hysterical and emotionally moving.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

While this release from Miramax/StudioCanal isn’t one of the most stellar catalogue releases to reach Blu-ray as far as picture quality, this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement is one of the stronger Miramax reissues to hit the format in recent times. The image looks quite natural. Foreground detail is strong although background detail does soften quite sharply at times. A few specks of dust and scratches can be seen here and there, but on the whole the image doesn’t look to have been tampered with too much making it pleasing.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Unless my memory is failing me, Life is Beautiful ran rather extensively in the United States in its dubbed English version. Fortunately for film enthusiasts and purists, this release from StudioCanal contains the original Italian language soundtrack in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) as well as the English and French dubbed versions. I chose the Italian version for my reference viewing and it’s a quite adequate soundtrack with effective discrete and ambient effects throughout the surround channels, good use of the front channels for directionality, and clean dialogue.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

The supplements consist of a few SD (PAL) featurettes with interviews of the cast and crew and others, including Martin Scorsese, on the film, its impact, and Benigni’s comedic genius. A brief amount of B-Roll footage is also included.

The supplements:

  • Revisiting Life is Beautiful 15 Years Later (1.78:1; SD/PAL; 00:54:50)
  • Making of (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:23:27)
  • Interview with Roberto Benigni and Nicoletta Braschi (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:09:26)
  • B-Roll (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:09:52)
  • Trailer (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 0:02:14)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

A true Italian masterpiece of comic and dramatic genres, Life is Beautiful is one film that reaches across all lines, be it age, gender, years, or race. Heartwarming, gripping, funny, and poignant, it is a film for the ages and a 20th century classic.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B006C12Q9O[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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