The novel Night and the film Life is Beautiful are two vastly different stories of the horrendous events of the Holocaust. The first is an account by Elie Wiesel, who was sent to Auschwitz at the age of fifteen and forced to endure the deaths of his sister, mother, and father.
The latter follows a family of hopefuls who cling to one another in order to endure a world of suffering. While Night conveys a tone of solemnity and mournfulness, Life is Beautiful maintains an atmosphere of lighthearted optimism. Though both Lives is Beautiful and Night address the horrors of the Holocaust and its destructive power over childhood, the former illustrates love as a refuge from suffering, while the latter suggests the inescapable nature of reality.
In both Night and Life is Beautiful, the creators make clear the atrocities of the Holocaust, as well as its power to destroy childhood. In Elie Wiesel's tale of his torment at various concentration camps, he is stripped of his youth and forced to work away his innocence. Upon his arrival at Auschwitz, Eliezer immediately encounters the slaughter of an old man and the sentencing of hundreds more to execution. In order to evade a similar fate, Elie must masquerade adulthood and quickly resolves that he will "run into the electrified barbed wire. That would be easier than a slow death in the flames" (Wiesel 33). Joshua, the young Jew in Life is Beautiful, is also exposed to a fear of the flames, explaining to his father, "They make buttons and soap out of us. They burn all of us in the furnace" (Roberto Benigni). Though blessed by the blissful reassurances of his father, Joshua clearly demonstrates some inkling of understanding of the torment awaiting thousands of Jews. Joshua is also exposed to prejudice when reading a sign which forbids the entry of Jews and dogs (Roberto Benigni). Regardless of their relative suffering or luxury, every child impacted by the Holocaust lost a great portion of their innocence and youthful naivety.
Though enduring great suffering, Guido managed to at least feign relief and shield his son from pain by clinging to his adoration and dedication to his family. Contrasting with Elie Wiesel's mental brokenness, Joshua was granted blissful ignorance and protected from the horrors around him by the fantasies of his father. This method of escapism implies the idea that suffering can indeed be mentally overcome by the power of love and hope. Throughout the film, Guido reassu...