Death and dying are very potent and powerful components of modern movies (Bryant, 2003).

They both emotionally move the viewer into self-introspection and lead the viewer to the deeper abyss of one’s psyche. In quest of elusive answers to some basic questions in life, even ancient philosophers considerably linked living with dying, one as a prelude to the other and vice-versa. Death, in fact, is treated as a symbol of rebirth and emancipation. The essay will examine two famous Holocaust movies, namely Jakob the Liar and La Vita e Bella.If compared to more morbid horror and suspense movies, death in said movies is not the central theme. Rather, death becomes the avenue for re-birth anchored on varying themes such as the power of hope and good humor amidst life’s difficulties.

The essay is not a typical movie review that narrates the plot and evaluates the various components, such as events, twists, characters and the story in general. The essay will delve more specifically on the issues relative to death and dying, such as how death is confronted, why nearing death should not provoke pain and the significance dying.Jakob the Liar and La Vita e Bella are chosen because of their seemingly atypical treatment of death, unlike other Holocaust movies where there are highly morbid portrayals of death and the impression concomitantly created regarding the lesser value of human life, such as Schindler’s List, among others. Both movies subject of the essay treat death in albeit comical fashion, notably the La Vita e Bella. Although produced separately with entirely varying stories, the two movies belong to a collection of productions inspired by the actual events of the Holocaust during the Second World War.First subject of the essay is the 1999 version of the Jakob the Liar novel, starring Robin William, who plays the role of Jakob, a Jewish shopkeeper.

Ghettos are set up by the Germans in Warsaw, Poland, as part of their Final Solution, a program designed to exterminate the Jews from the face of the earth. Towards the end of the war, the Germans are increasingly expediting the immediate disposal of the Jewish population in Easter Europe. When he is summoned, Jakob overhears a German radio broadcast regarding military movements of the Soviet Red Army.Jakob shares the news with his friends and soon the ghetto is abuzz with rumors about the impending Soviet liberation. Jakob continues to shares stories, until he finds the courage to invent most of them.

The Germans launch a search for the secret radio, a prohibited possession. Soon, Jakob is caught in the web of his own lies until his capture. Since allowing Jews hear German radio broadcasts is a grave violation of the camp rules, the German officers forced Jakob to confess that all he told are all lies, otherwise the hostages will be killed.Jakob refuses to confess and is shot dead.

La Vita e Bella has a different plot, although it takes place during the same dark chapter of human history. The main character, Guido, a young Italian Jew played by brilliant Italian actor Roberto Benigni, arrives in Arezzo, Italy and soon marries a non-Jew Italian, Dora. They have one child, a son named Joshua who, together with his father and grandfather, is taken to a ghetto under the Final Solution extermination program of the Nazis. Dora later joins them in the camp.Desirous of shielding Joshua from the harsh realities of the war and their impending death at the ghetto, Guido convinces his son that they are mainly playing a game in which the first team to get a thousand points gets a tank.

Guido labors at lot in coming up with splendid explanation about everything that catches Joshua’s attention. Despite the intricate trappings of the realities of war, the father has a very convincing performance blurring the line dividing what is a fiction and what is not in his son’s mind.While watching his own father being led to the gas chamber, Guido simply explains to Joshua, saying: “Uh..

. oh, he's playing on a different team. Goodbye, Uncle! ” At the onset, Jakob’s treatment of their forced encampment is comical. In one instance, he says: “Hitler goes to a fortune-teller and asks, ‘When will I die? ’ And the fortune-teller replies, ‘On a Jewish holiday.

’ Hitler then asks, ‘How do you know that? ’ And she replies, ‘Any day you die will be a Jewish holiday. ’" Jakob is basically a funny character, unlike his more serious co-prisoners who look at their fate and death as means to glorify God.By seeking refuge to their theological tenets and religious teachings on life and death, the other prisoners easily accept their fate, explaining the initial reluctance of others in seriously treating Jakob’s stories. Jakob confronts their hardships rather comically. His functions as the sharer of stories about the forthcoming Soviet invasion make him a messenger of hope, even until the point of his own death.

Guido’s approaches towards death are rather more powerful than Jakob’s. For Guido, impending death is a matter of perspective. His intricate lies serve as a shield for his son’s innocent mind.His convincing comical performance extends even until his death, mimicking a marching soldier at gunpoint. La Vita e Bella sends a powerful message about rebirth after death, after the ghetto camp is liberated by the American with Joshua finally seeing and riding on a tank and reuniting with his father. For a grownup Joshua, who tells the entire story at the start and end of the movie, his father’s sacrifices give him the desire and chance to live (Kwiet & Matthaus, 2004).

Benigni’s performance is very remarkable, being able to use his comedic talents even in tragic settings.