Life is Beautiful Quiz


By: Julie Medina

4 Min Quiz

Image: Melampo Cinematografica/Caravan Pictures/Cecchi Gori Group/Cecchi Gori Pictures

About This Quiz

A Jewish Italian book shop owner shields his son from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp using his imagination in this Academy Award-winning film.

Which actor portrays Guido Orefice?

Roberto Benignity portrays Guido, a young Jewish man who arrives to work in the city where his uncle Eliseo operates a restaurant. Benigni also portrayed Inspector Clouseau's son in Son of the Pink Panther (1993) and has collaborated with filmmaker Jim Jarmusch in three of his films: Down by Law (1986), Night on Earth (1991) and Coffee and Cigarettes (2003).


Guido is comical and clever, and falls in love with a girl named what?

Dora is a teacher and set to be engaged to a rich but arrogant man, a local government official with whom Guido has regular run-ins. Guido sets up many "coincidental" incidents to show his interest in Dora. Finally, Dora sees Guido's affection and promise and gives in against her better judgment. Dora is portrayed by Nicoletta Braschi, an Italian actress, and producer, best known for her work with her husband, actor, and director Roberto Benigni.


How does Guido first meet Dora?

She falls off the upper level of the barn and lands on him. Fortunately, they land in the hay. This begins Guido feeling that Life is Beautiful or La Vita e Bella, the Italian name translates exactly to the English name of the movie.


What are Guido’s first words to Dora?

Buon giorno, Principessa! Or Good Morning Princess! Even Giosue began to use the phrase for his mother. Roberto Benigni says the title of the film, Life is Beautiful, comes from a quote by Leon Trotsky. In exile in Mexico, knowing he was about to be killed by Joseph Stalin's assassins, he saw his wife in the garden and wrote that, in spite of everything, "life is beautiful".


What does Guido call Dora's fiancé?

Guido calls Dora’s fiancée ‘The jerk the eggs fell on’. His name is Rodolfo and his real name is Amerigo Fontani. After Guido accidentally knocks a flower pot unto Rodolfo’s head, Guido runs down to check on him and puts his six eggs in the Rodolfo's hat. When Rodolfo goes to put his hat back on, the eggs break on his head. You may notice that when Guido knocks the flower pot from the window sill and it breaks on Rodolfo's head it looks and disintegrates like wood but sounds like terracotta.


What does Guido do that angers Dora's mother and fiancé?

Guido steals Dora from her engagement party on a horse, humiliating her fiancé and mother. He literally sweeps her off her feet. By the year 1939 they are married and have a son, and a book store.


Who was an uninvited guest at Dora’s engagement party.

At the time of Dora’s engagement, the country was under Nazi rule. The solider may have been there to observe or simply to annoy them. They, as Jews, would not have been allowed to prevent him coming.


What is the answer to this riddle? The Dwarves and Snow White sit down for a bite. How fast can you guess what she serves her guests next?

In Italian, the answer to the "Snow White" riddle is seven "minuti" - a play on words between "minutes" and "dwarves". Not all jokes translate well from one language to another.


What was the name of Uncle Eliseo’s horse?

Uncle Eliseo's horse is named Robin Hood. In one point of the movie, Robin Hood is painted green with slurs and death threats to Jews written on top of the paint. It says 'Achtung! Cavallo ebreo' This shows how the political climate was changing more dramatically day by day.


What is the name of Guido and Dora's son?

The son's name is Giosue, portrayed by Giorgio Cantarini. Cantarini is an Italian actor who, to date, has appeared in two Academy Award winning films: 1997's Life Is Beautiful and Gladiator in the year 2000.


What do Guido and Giosue decide to ban from their bookstore?

After Giosue notices all the signs on store windows banning Jews and dogs, he questions Guido. Guido says it is all the rage and they decide what to ban at their bookstore. Giosue bans spiders and Guido bans Visigoths. Visigoths are members of the branch of the Goths who invaded the Roman Empire between the 3rd and 5th centuries AD and ruled much of Spain until overthrown by the Moors in 711.


Which part of his anatomy does Guido refer to in his demonstration?

In the town, Guido survives by quick improvisation. Mistaken for a school inspector, he invents a quick lecture on Italian racial superiority, demonstrating the excellence of his big ears and superb navel. Without this quick thinking, he would have been hauled off to a concentration camp that minute.


When Giosue is eating dinner with the German children, what does he say in Italian that almost blows his cover?

Giosue says “Thank You” blowing his cover. Guido runs in and saves Giosué by pretending that he taught him that word. Did you know that Pope John Paul II saw a special viewing of Life is Beautiful at the Vatican with Benigni? Although Benigni lives in Rome not far from the Vatican, he had never before seen or met the Pope, and was in California when the Vatican contacted him, so he had to fly halfway around the world for the meeting.


What happened on Giosue's birthday?

When World War II breaks out, Guido, his uncle, and Giosuè are seized on Giosuè's birthday. They and many other Jews are forced onto a train and taken to a concentration camp. Prior to the concentration camp, the film was shot in the centro storico (historic centre) of Arezzo, Tuscany.


What did Dora do when she found out the rest of her family was being sent to a concentration camp?

After confronting a guard about her husband and son and being told there is no mistake, Dora volunteers to get on the train to be close to her family. Designed by longtime Fellini collaborator Danilo Donati, the concentration camp was built on the remains of an abandoned chemical factory near the Marmore Falls in Terni, quite a way to the southeast.


Why did Dora's ploy of taking the same train as her husband and son fail?

Dora didn't realize that men and women are separated in the camp, Dora and Guido never see each other during the internment. However, Guido pulls off stunts, such as using the camp's loudspeaker, to send messages, symbolic or literal, to Dora to assure her that he and their son are safe.


During which war is the movie set?

This film shows the details of World War II that were kept behind the closed doors of the concentration camps. There is a minor goof in the film when Guido tries to escape camouflaged as a woman and is stopped by the guards… the second from right prisoner cannot help laughing.


What is the answer to Dr. Lessing's riddle, 'If you say my name, I won't exist anymore?'

Dr. Lessing and Guido loved riddles. In fact, this riddle was said to Guido by Dr. Lessing before they went on the train and answered by Guido when in line for a checkup in to the concentration camp. Dr. Lessing was portrayed by Horst Buchholzin This German actor is best to American audiences for his roles in The Magnificent Seven, in which he played Chico, Fanny, and the Billy Wilder Comedy One, Two, Three. Worldwide, from 1951 to 2002, he appeared in more than sixty feature films. During his youth, he was sometimes called "the German James Dean".


What happens to Eliseo?

Eliseo is executed in a gas chamber shortly after their arrival. Eliseo is portrayed by Giustino Durano, a career actor whose role in "Life is Beautiful" received a nomination in part for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast.


How does Giosuè avoid being gassed himself?

As he hates to take baths and showers, Giosue did not follow the other children when they had been ordered to enter the gas chambers. There was a slight continuity mistake in the film. When the train enters the concentration camp at night, but the prisoners get off in the middle of the day. However, the engine is still puffing steam as if the train had just arrived.


What will Guosue win if he gets 1000 points?

In the camp, Guido hides their true situation from his son. Guido explains to Giosuè that the camp is a complicated game in which he must perform the tasks Guido gives him. Each of the tasks will earn them points and whoever gets to one thousand points first will win a tank. He tells him that if he cries, complains that he wants his mother, or says that he is hungry, he will lose points, while quiet boys who hide from the camp guards earn extra points.


Who does Guido recognize at the camp?

Dr. Lessing, a man he befriended at his uncle's hotel, winds up being the doctor who gives the prisoners their checkup. Dr. Lessing is portrayed by Horst Buchholz, a German actor. Horst Buchholz did his own dubbing for the English and German dubbed versions.


Before they go to sleep Guido and Ferruccio discuss which philosopher?

Before they go to sleep Guido and Ferruccio have a few jokes about the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, a favorite writer of Adolf Hitler. Ferruccio is portrayed by Sergio Bini. He is an actor and writer known for Life Is Beautiful (1997), To Rome with Love (2012) and Marcellino (1991).


Who says this? Nothing is more necessary than the unnecessary.

Eliseo Orefice says this understanding how important the unnecessary things are in life, (such things as picnics and birthdays and daydreaming). The actor who portrayed Eliseo, Giustino Durano, died just 5 years after the movie was released at age 80.


What does Giosué think the Germans turn the Jewish children into?

Giosué hears from an old man who is crying that they turn children into buttons and soap, but Guido makes him think he is wrong so he won't be scared. Because Benigni is not Jewish, he consulted with the Center for Documentation of Contemporary Judaism, based in Milan, throughout production.


Who is this female prisoner talking to? “They don't make them work because they kill them! One day, you will hear a lady calling, "Kids, come take a shower," then they gas them!”

A female prisoner says this to Dora when she notices that at the concentration camp they don’t make the children or old people work. Although this is a true historic reference, Benigni incorporated historical inaccuracies to distinguish his story from the true Holocaust, which he said only documentaries interviewing survivors could provide "the truth" about.


Who says this as an adult? “This is my story. This is the sacrifice my father made. This was his gift to me.”

Giosue says this in describing the horror that his father protected him from in the concentration camp. Although Roberto Benigni and Vincenzo Cerami based the screenplay on the book “In the End, I Beat Hitler”, Benigni also based the story on that of his father Luigi Benigni, who was a member of the Italian Army after Italy switched to the Allied side in 1943. Luigi Benigni spent two years in a Nazi labor camp, and to avoid scaring his children, told about his experiences humorously, finding this helped him cope.


Who says this? “You have no idea what I'm saying, do you?”

A U.S. Tank Soldier, after arriving in the deserted concentration camp in a tank, finds Giosure and tries to speak to the Italian boy in English. He utters this line.


Besides act, what other roles does Roberto Benigni fill in the film?

Roberto Benigni not only plays the starring role, he also co-wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. Among other awards, the film won three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Benigni. Roberto Benigni's Oscar for best actor marked only the second time that an actor had directed himself in an Academy Award winning performance. The other was Laurence Olivier for Hamlet (1948).


How was the film received?

On a budget of $20 million, box office sales from the film reached more than $225 million internationally. It was the highest grossing foreign language film in the United States until Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).


Although a late entry, Life is Beautiful competed in the Cannes Film Festival, what happened there?

Life is Beautiful was screened in the Cannes Film Festival in May 1998, where it was a late addition to the selection of films, and went on to win the Grand Prix. Upon receiving the award, Benigni kissed the feet of jury president Martin Scorsese. It is the second-most prestigious prize of the festival after the Palme d'Or. Prior to its creation, the Special Jury Prize held the "second place".


Life is Beautiful was also nominated for several Academy Awards, in which categories was it nominated?

It may have been a good thing that it didn’t win in all the categories in which the film was nominated. Upon accepting his second Academy Award, Benigni said, "This is a terrible mistake because I used up all my English.” Speaking of accolades the film was aired on the Italian television station RAI in 2001 and was viewed by 16 million people. This made it the most watched Italian film on Italian TV.


Besides winning the Academy Award for his acting, what other awards did Benigni’s film win?

At the 71st Academy Awards, the film won awards for Best Music - Original Dramatic Score, and Best Foreign Language Film, with Benigni winning Best Actor for his role. The Oscar win for Best Actor was the second time a performance completely in Italian had been awarded. The previous winner was Sophia Loren for Two Women (1960).


What happened when Roberto Benigni won the Academy Award?

Roberto Benigni was so excited to receive his Academy Award for Best Foreign Film that he stood up in his chair and leaped across several more chairs to get to the stage. Even his nominations put him in the record book. Roberto Benigni became only the fourth person to be nominated for Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. The other recipients of this accolade are Orson Welles for Citizen Kane (1941), Woody Allen for Annie Hall (1977) and Warren Beatty for Reds (1981).


What happened at the box office once the film won the Oscar?

After its Oscar win, the film increased its box office tally by 45% and added nearly 500 theaters to its US run. Not bad for a movie that had been on general release for 22 weeks.


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