Eternal Life Is Beautiful

LifeIsBeautiful.jpgTonight, I watched a DVD that was truly moving and I need to put my thoughts down here while they're still fresh in my head. 

The name of the film is "Life Is Beautiful" written by, starring, and directed by Italian actor Roberto Benigni.  It was released in 1997 and nominated for seven Academy Awards, Benigni himself garnering a Best Actor prize.

Here is a film synopsis from http://www.tribute.ca/

In 1939, Guido (Roberto Benigni) — an enchanting individual with childlike innocence and grand dreams of owning his own bookstore comes to the Tuscan town of Arezzo. He falls in love with Dora, a beautiful young schoolteacher (Nicoletta Braschi). Unfortunately, the woman he calls his “Princess” is already engaged. Worse, she is engaged to the local Fascist official with whom he has had a run-in. Guido, however, is not deterred and a fairy tale romance ensues.

Several years later Guido and Dora are married and have a son, and Guido has finally opened the bookshop of his dreams. But now, the occasional bigotries Guido once ignored have become Racial Laws with which he must come to terms. Throughout it all, he determines to shield his son from the brutal reality governing their lives. This determination becomes a matter of life and death when Guido and his son are sent to a concentration camp three months before the war’s end. Of her own accord, and out of her love for them, Dora deports herself on the same train.

Now, in this unimaginable world, Guido must use his bold imagination and every ounce of his indefatigable spirit to save those he loves.

Very few movies touch my soul like this one did.  [I should add that I subscribe to a DVD editing service, which edits language, nudity, etc., from films.  I think it is rated PG-13.]  It is amazing how, in the midst of horrific times, this father creates an illusion for his young son that sustains him through a long period in a Nazi concentration camp.  Toward the end of the movie, the father is tragically killed, but the son survives and is reunited with his mother after the camp's liberation by Allied forces.  I highly recommend this film.  It's a terrific story.

Interestingly, this story was written based on the real-life history of Benigni's father, who survived a concentration camp imprisonment.  Benigni's wife in the film is also his real-life wife Nicoletta Braschi.

I couldn't help but compare in my mind the "beautiful life" acted out so poignantly in this film with the eternal life provided by my Savior, Jesus Christ.  In the film, Benigni's character turns every painful reality into a blissful illusion for the comfort and protection of his son.  It is beautiful to watch. 

It reminds me of another experience recorded in history.  A group of men are very afraid.  Their world has suddenly been turned upside down.  They see all too clearly the harsh reality that awaits their intimate circle.  They tell their leader that they will stick it out–that they believe in him.  The leader speaks to them.  He says "Do you finally believe? In fact, you're about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I'm not abandoned. The Father is with me. I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world." (John 16:31-33, The Message)

Do you see the parallel?  We too are surrounded daily by trial and persecution.  We are afraid.  We are in danger.  We have reason to be glum, angry, worried, depressed.  Yet Jesus doesn't need to give us an illusion to distract our minds from the reality of this life.  Most of the men Jesus addressed that night outside Jerusalem would end up knowing the harsh reality of a world that hated them because it hated their Master.  Most would be killed, many tortured.  Jesus doesn't offer His disciples freedom from pain and tribulation.  What He does offer is Himself.  He is the victory.  Through Jesus, we are more than conquerors.  In the Lord and the power of His might, we can be strong.

And like Guido in the movie, we can take heart.  We can know peace.  We should radiate with joy.  Why?  Eternal life is beautiful.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9, KJV)

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