Maybe it's too easy to dismiss Roberto Benigni's 'La Tigre e la Neve' ('The Tiger and the Snow') as 'La Vita è Bella' ('Life is Beautiful') in Iraq. But the similarities are many: once again Benigni and his wife Nicoletta Braschi star in a love story that veers between slapstick comedy and tragedy, and once again against a background of war.
Attilio is a rather clumsy though inspiring poetry teacher on a quest for the woman he loves, Vittoria. When she ends up in war-torn Baghdad, he goes after her like a modern-day Orpheus.
However, unlike 'La Vita e Bella', war is really just a backdrop here, a situation to be exploited for gags. This time, instead of heightening the tragedy in a mythical story about the futility of war, it ends up trivializing it.
Still, to the film's merit, there are scenes of pure poetry, and Benigni delivers some great monologues. Early in the film he is seen teaching to a class of teenagers, in what is probably the most inspiring poetry lecture since 'Dead Poets Society'. To quote another instance of his eloquence, when he pleads with an old doctor in Baghdad to find a cure for his beloved:
If she dies, the whole world might as well be shut down. They'll have to disassemble everything, unscrew the stars, roll up the heavens and load them on a cart. They can turn off the sunlight I so love - and do you you know why I love it? Because the sun illuminates her so beautifully. They can take away everything: furniture, houses, sand, wind, frogs, ripe watermelons, evenings, May, June, July, basil, bees, the sea, zucchinis...