Life is Beautiful

magic is a motif in the film. give an example and tell why the motif matters?

magic is a motif. it's hard to tell though.

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Guido creates fictitious worlds for those around him. He calls Dora "princess" and claims to be a prince himself. Though they both know the truth, they both are more than willing to entertain the fantasy and play the game. In this way, Guido's fictions are a form of escapism, a way for him to cope with reality and imbue it with beauty.

Guido also cultivates a series of coincidences so that he can appear to have manipulated fate or performed magic. Though he knows that he is simply manipulating someone else, he is not reveling in the deception; he is interested in creating another world for someone else. This underscores the idea that a person's perception is intrinsic to his reality. Guido changes the way those around him perceive the world with his manipulations, and thus he affects how they deal with the rest of the world. When Guido rides up on a horse to rescue Dora, he is entertaining the fantasy of the knight rescuing the damsel in distress. However, he actually is rescuing her from her surroundings and actually is whisking her away on a horse. Similarly, when he tells Giosue that everything in the concentration camp is a game, he is creating a fiction to keep Giosue's spirits up. However, at the end of the film, Giosue has survived the concentration camp with perseverance and bravery, and his life and the lessons he has learned are very real. In Life is Beautiful, it appears, fantasy can become reality.


Guido continually attempts to give the impression that he can alter the course of fate. He woos Dora by manipulating his surroundings, making it seem as though he is creating miracles when in reality he is simply deftly orchestrating a series of coincidences. For instance, when he and Dora are discussing the metaphorical "key to her heart," he guides her to a spot below a window and calls out to "Maria" for "the key," knowing full well that a woman named Maria lives in the apartment above and is in the habit of throwing the key down to her husband whenever he yells her name. Guido pretends that he is calling out to the Biblical Mary, thereby creating a lovely fiction to surprise and entertain his beloved. While Dora surely suspects that something has been forethought, the elaborate ruse is undeniably charming. In this sense, a coincidence is a planned convergence of events.

Guido also uses coincidence to control his surroundings. He perhaps has an unusual degree of need to feel a sense of control in an anti-Semitic era. Life is Beautiful also uses coincidence to show that the things that cannot be controlled are not always negative; sometimes, such events are quite magical in their own right. Though Guido masterfully controls coincidences to great ends, he of course is limited by his actual surroundings. For example, he is the one taken by surprise when Dora falls out of a barn into his arms, even though her having done so supports the story he has been telling to a little girl about being a prince and looking for a princess. The coincidence lends a happy ending to his story, but he had no part in it. Also, at the very end, a real tank picks up Giosue and takes him out of the concentration camp. Guido could not possibly have foreseen or controlled this lucky event. By pure coincidence, Giosue's dreams came true and Guido's game was completed. Coincidences such as these imply that there is some divine force working to control life--is it somehow a kind of anti-Schopenhauer "will" that creates happiness instead of unhappines? Individuals can take part in controlling their destinies, but they cannot control everything--yet, it often seems that something is doing so.