What is Drama and How is it Different from Other Literature?

Drama is a literary genre that shares many features of other forms of literature, but possesses a characteristic that makes it distinct. Like novels and short stories, dramatic works tell a story by employing the seven elements of fiction, which are a setting, characters, a problem, a plot, suspense, a point of view, and a theme. However, what sets drama apart from other literature is that it is performed by actors on a stage or in a film in front of an audience. The performers speak the dialogue, perform the actions of their characters and wear costumes to help portray their characters. To set the tone of the play or film, the stage is decorated to make the setting look like the setting of the story. In addition, lighting is used to draw attention to certain characters or parts of the stage and influence the mood of the dramatic work, and music is used to influence the mood as well.

Conversely, most forms of literature, such as poetry, short stories, and novels, are read. Novels and short stories are often written in the form of books, which sometimes contain pictures to help illustrate the story. But, illustrations in books do not often portray the entire story, as in drama. On the other hand, like drama, poems can be performed on a stage in front of an audience. However, this is the only similarity between poetry and dramas because poets do not actually perform actions, do not wear costumes, there is no music, and there is less emphasis on lighting. Furthermore, unlike drama, poets who read their poems are on their own, whereas in drama, there is a cast of actors on stage.

Drama can be a very entertaining form of literature. In contrast to reading literature, where you visualize the story in your mind, watching a drama unfold before your eyes is quite interesting and is a different experience. If a play or film has a talented cast who portray their characters well, and has a well-designed set, in addition to lighting and music that fit the dramatic work well, it can be a spectacle to watch.

However, in my opinion, one thing about drama that makes it less enjoyable than other literary genres is that it does not allow you to visualize the story with your imagination. When I read books, I am free to imagine the appearance of the setting, what characters look like, and the actions of characters. But, in drama, all of these things are determined for you and may not be as fascinating as you imagined.

Essentially, drama is distinct from other literature because it is performed in front of an audience by actors to tell a story, along with the use of a set, lighting, music, and costumes.

Works Cited

Przykuta. P Culture Violet. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 17 Mar. 2010. Web. 24 May 2012. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:P_culture_violet.png&gt;.

Sen, Piu. A play performance at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 15 Aug. 2007. Web. 24 May 2012. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_play_performance_at_Prithvi_Theatre,_Mumbai.jpg&gt;.


Comparing Love in Pan’s Labyrinth and Life is Beautiful

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), directed by Guillermo del Toro, and Life is Beautiful (1997), directed by Roberto Benigni, are fantastic films in their own regard which, at first glance, appear to have nothing in common. Pan’s Labyrinth is a film about a young, innocent girl named Ofelia. Along with her pregnant mother, Carmen, she moves in with her stepfather, Vidal, who is a ruthless captain of the Spanish army in fascist Spain. Little does she know, but Ofelia is the princess of a mystical fantasy world, and is instructed by a faun to complete three harrowing tasks in order to return to her father, the king of the underworld, who has been searching for her for thousands of years. Life is Beautiful, on the other hand, revolves around the life of a flamboyant Italian man named Guido who marries the love of his life, Dora, with the help of his sparkling, witty personality. When his family is later interned in a Nazi concentration camp, he uses these same characteristics to protect his naïve son, Joshua, from the horrors of the Holocaust. On first viewing, the darkly sinister Pan’s Labyrinth and the uproariously comedic Life is Beautiful seem to be worlds away from each other. However, one thing that pulls these intriguing films together is how love plays a vital role in their stories. In both films, love causes characters to go through adversity for loved ones and plays a role in uniting family. In contrast, love in Pan’s Labyrinth interestingly causes one of its main characters to also lack concern for most of his family members, whereas in Life is Beautiful, its main character exhibits unconditional love to everyone in his family.

The strong affection that characters feel for those who are dear to them motivates them to face challenges for these loved ones. When circumstances are not in favour of characters, others who care about them will often do whatever is necessary to improve their situations, especially in Pan’s Labyrinth. For example, Vidal’s motive for fighting in the war and being an activist for fascism is so that his son will be born in a “new, clean Spain” (Pan’s Labyrinth). Vidal loves his son so much that he is willing to put his life on the line to fight for what he believes in to make life better for him.  Additional evidence that emphasizes how love causes characters to go through adversity for loved ones is how the king of the underworld never gives up trying to find his daughter. He truly believes that his daughter, Princess Moanna, will return some day and spends thousands of years searching for her.  Upon meeting Ofelia, the faun tells her how the king opened portals all over the world to allow her return and that “the king will wait for her until he draws his last breath and the world stops turning” (Pan’s Labyrinth). The king’s willpower to search thousands of years for his long lost daughter is very amazing. Another instance that displays how a character goes through difficulties for a loved one is when Ofelia refuses to harm her brother for the faun’s final task. The last task requires that the blood of an innocent be spilled so Ofelia will be able to return to her father in the underworld. Despite learning how the king of the underworld has been searching for her for thousands of years, and knowing that she will be able to return to her father and reclaim her position as princess of the mystical underworld, without hesitation, Ofelia absolutely refuses to hurt her brother. Her love for her little brother prevents her from doing the unthinkable. The will of characters to take on difficult circumstances with others in mind is very admirable.

Likewise, the characters in Life is Beautiful also go through adversity for loved ones. After Guido meets Dora for the first time, he finds clever ways, which can possibly get him in trouble, to meet with her again and again. He poses as a school inspector at the school where Dora teaches, deceives her into thinking that he is her chauffer, and steals her away from her fiancée. Guido’s love for Dora causes him to do these crazy things without being concerned with the negative consequences that may follow. Later, when Guido and Joshua board the train to the concentration camp, Dora begs to board the train as well, even though she is not a Jew, in order to be with her family. This is quite a bold move by Dora and shows the extent of hardship she is willing to endure for her family. Subsequently, when the family arrives in the concentration camp, Guido faces the great challenge of hiding the truth of regarding prejudice against Jews and the Holocaust from Joshua in order to protect his son’s innocence. Guido’s love for Joshua allows him to remain positive and optimistic all the while guarding Joshua from the horrible reality of the Second World War. Without a doubt, it is clear that the characters of both Pan’s Labyrinth and Life is Beautiful are driven by love to improve the lives of the ones they cherish.

In addition to inspiring characters to better the lives of their loved ones, love also has an effect on bringing family together. When characters miss their loved ones, they will often think of them and take action in order to be with them. For example, despite the risk of being caught by Vidal or his men, Mercedes, Vidal’s servant-cum-undercover spy, frequently meets with her brother Pedro, who is part of the guerrilla forces fighting against the fascist army. Mercedes must fulfill her job of staying undercover within Vidal’s compound, but her love for her brother makes her see him regularly because of the bond they share. More evidence that clearly illustrates how love brings family together is when Ofelia reunites with the king and queen of the underworld. Her firm unwillingness to allow her brother to be hurt, due to her love for him, ultimately results in her sacrificing her own blood to open the portal to the underworld that the king had created. The king’s love for his daughter motivated him to create the portal, and Ofelia’s love for her brother essentially allows her to open it and return to her family in the underworld, who has been searching for her for millennia. Certainly, it is quite evident that love brings family together.

Similar to Pan’s Labyrinth, love also plays a role in uniting family in Life is Beautiful. For example, there is an interesting scene where Joshua and his grandmother meet for the first time. She requests that Joshua give Dora a letter that she had written for her and tell her that it is from his grandmother. Joshua replies that he had never met his grandmother before and would like to meet her. Though they had never met before, the fact that they are family makes Joshua love his grandmother and motivates him to want to meet her, which he is luckily able to do. The grandmother’s love for Dora causes her to write a letter for her daughter, which, in turn, plays a role in allowing the grandmother to meet with Joshua when she delivers it. The unity of family is further exemplified in the scene where Guido plays a song through a record player in the concentration camp. The song that he plays is the exact same song that plays during the opera, when Guido first pursues Dora. At the opera, Guido and Dora make eye contact and chemistry arises. It is one of the first times when Guido and Dora share a connection. Several years later, when she hears the song in the concentration camp, she thinks about Guido, while he simultaneously thinks about her. At this time, they are not physically united, but they are definitely mentally united through love as they are both in each other’s thoughts. In essence, love certainly has an influence on bringing kin together in any situation, both physically and in spirit.

Although love has a similar effect on both films with regard to how characters go through adversity for the sake of love, and how love brings family together, one cannot deny how love causes Vidal and Guido to each treat their families differently if you realize how Vidal loves his son exclusively, whereas Guido deeply cares about his entire family. Vidal disregards his wife, Carmen, and his step-daughter, Ofelia, in favour of his unborn son. He loves his son more than anyone else. At the beginning of Pan’s Labyrinth, Carmen, whose health is in a fragile state due to the pregnancy, must move in with her new husband on the front lines of war, because he strongly believes that “a son should be born wherever his father is” (Pan’s Labyrinth). This brash decision by Vidal causes Carmen’s condition to worsen considerably. However, Vidal shows no concern for his wife and only cares about the well-being of his unborn son. After the doctor examines Carmen, Vidal has a discussion with him and states that if need be, “he should save the baby over Carmen” (Pan’s Labyrinth). Carmen ultimately dies giving birth to Vidal’s son. Another instance that evidently illustrates Vidal’s negligence of his family in favour of his son is when Vidal murders Ofelia. To complete her final task to return to the underworld, Ofelia kidnaps her little brother from her malevolent step-father. Eventually, Vidal catches Ofelia and retrieves his son. Afterwards, he does not hesitate to shoot a bullet through his step-daughter’s chest for the offense Pan’s Labyrinth. Clearly, Vidal is a cold-hearted man to everyone in his family except his beloved son.

Contrastingly, Guido, who is truly benevolent and loving of his entire family, is the exact opposite of Vidal. When Guido performs acts of love for his wife or son, he is always mindful of both of them. At one point during the family’s imprisonment in the concentration camp, Guido pushes a wheelbarrow, appearing to do work, but in reality, is keeping a watchful eye on his son, who is hiding in the wheelbarrow. As Guido pretends to be working, he notices that the room containing the public announcement system is empty. Guido sees this as an opportunity for him and Joshua to send a message to Dora, who they have not seen since their arrival at the concentration camp. In this way, Guido demonstrates love for his son and wife by keeping Joshua safe and sending Dora a warm message to show that he and Joshua miss her. Another scene in that perfectly exemplifies Guido’s unconditional love for both his wife and son happens shortly before the Nazis surrender. When Guido learns that the Jews are being rounded up to be killed before the war ends, he decides to take action and search for Dora in the concentration camp, at the risk of being caught and killed by Nazis. However, before he begins his search for Dora, Guido makes certain that Joshua will be hidden from everyone until he returns, and carefully explains to Joshua what he must do in order to ensure his safety. Without a doubt, Guido is exceptionally thoughtful and affectionate of his entire family, unlike Vidal, who is conversely careless and discourteous to everyone in his family, with the exception his son.

After watching Pan’s Labyrinth and Life is Beautiful, it may be difficult to recognize similarities between them because their stories are very unalike. Pan’s Labyrinth is dark and mysterious, whereas Life is Beautiful is charming and whimsical. Although, when paying close attention to the presence of love in both films, it is apparent that love plays a major role in their plots. Essentially, love motivates characters to face difficulties for those who are dear to them and has an influence on bringing family together. However, there is a clear distinction between the sharing of love in both films. Vidal’s love is solely aimed at his son, whereas Guido’s love, on the other hand, is shared with all of his family members.  Overall, Pan’s Labyrinth and Life is Beautiful are two films that demonstrate the powerful influence that love can have.

Works Cited

Albedo-ukr. Family 3. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 10 May 2010. Web. 24 May 2012. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Family_3.svg&gt;.

Dilmen, Nevit. Heartbeat. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 12 Sept. 2006. Web. 24 May 2012. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Heart-beat.gif&gt;.

LateAmerican. Ofelia and Faun. Digital image. TheSkyKid. TheSkyKid, Feb. 2010. Web. 24 May 2012. <http://www.theskykid.com/wp-content/uploads/Ofelia-and-Faun.jpg&gt;.

Life Is Beautiful. Dir. Roberto Benigni. Perf. Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, and Giorgio Cantarini. Miramax Films, 1997. DVD.

Nancy0206. Life is Beautiful Family. Digital image. Global Times. Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd, 15 Oct. 2009. Web. 24 May 2012. <http://forum.globaltimes.cn/forum/attachment.php?s=f60d2b9811500662b26c0da9f3b4d5bd&attachmentid=6322&d=1255576258&gt;.

Pan’s Labyrinth. Dir. Guillermo Del Toro. Perf. Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, and Sergi López. Picturehouse, 2006. DVD.

Life is Beautiful Review: The Pursuit of Love and the Will to Protect is Admirable

Life is Beautiful is a film set in Arezzo, Italy in 1939 directed by and featuring Roberto Benigni. As I watched this film, I questioned whether life is in fact beautiful? The name of this film is somewhat ironic. Initially, the film begins as a playful romantic comedy that revolves around an Italian Jew, named Guido (played by Roberto Benigni), and his pursuit of a beautiful school teacher named Dora (played by Nicoletta Braschi, who happens to be Benigni’s wife in real life). But later as the film progresses, the story makes an unexpected turn that will leave you overwhelmed with feelings of sympathy and admiration for the story’s characters, especially Guido.
While watching the first half of Life is Beautiful, it is easy to forget that Guido is a Jew living during the time of World War II. Guido’s charm and enthusiasm distracts viewers from the fact that Jews experience discrimination and prejudice, which is hinted throughout the first half of the film. Years pass and Guido marries the love of his life, Dora, has a little boy named Joshua, and has his dream job of being the owner of a bookstore. Guido has a great life and looks like he will live happily ever after. However, World War II is not over and animosity against Jews is strong as ever. Because Guido is a Jew, he and his family are forced to work and live in a Nazi concentration camp. To protect his son, Joshua, from the horrible reality of how Jews are despised and why their family is away from home, Guido pretends that all the people at the concentration camp are playing a game. The winner of the game will receive the grand prize, a full-sized tank.
I thought the plot of Life is Beautiful was absolutely fantastic because it seems very predictable, but in reality, I would have never been able to foretell the unfortunate events to come. The movie starts out playfully and appears to be a comedic romance of two Italian lovers. After serendipitously meeting Dora for the first time, Guido finds several ways to “accidentally” meet with his love interest again and again. Guido’s quest for love is cute and his encounters with Dora are always spectacular. After Guido wins over the woman of his dreams and settles down to start a family, the viewers of the film are hit with an unforeseen plot twist that you would not expect from a romantic comedy. Guido’s family is interned in a Nazi concentration camp. When this happens, I was taken by surprise. The plot shifts from Guido’s charming pursuit of romance to his loving effort to protect his young son’s innocence in concentration camp through his optimism and cunning. Although the plot shift is sudden and unexpected, the transition is actually smooth. The first and second half of Life is Beautiful feel like they belong in two different films, but share something in common that keeps them together. In both halves of the movie, Guido’s actions are for the sake of love. For this reason, the plot is able to make a shocking transition without diverging from the essence of the movie, that love conquers all.

In addition to the fascinating plot, I also greatly enjoyed the music in Life is Beautiful, which accompanies the film seamlessly. All emotions felt by viewers are enhanced by the perfect kind of music that accurately conveys the feeling and atmosphere of the film at any given time. During the first half of the film, innocent, gleeful melodies are used to help illustrate how the circumstances at the time are pleasant and there is nothing to worry about. When Guido sees Dora, cheery and joyful music plays to accentuate Guido’s pleasure in seeing her. Later in the film, as Guido and his family board the train to concentration camp, the tone of the music is bleak and gloomy to give rise to feelings of depression and decreased morale. Essentially, the music playing in the background perfectly fits the scenes of the film by strengthening the emotions associated with each scene.
I mentioned how I really love the plot of Life is Beautiful, but a minor issue that I have with the plot is how it lacks realism. For instance, one of Guido’s clever plans to “accidentally” cross paths with his crush, Dora, involves posing as a school inspector at Dora’s school. As cunning as Guido may be, I don’t think he would be able to pass under the radar and deceive the teaching staff with such ease. His eccentricity and goofiness would surely cause the teaching staff to be suspicious of him, but no one questions his legitimacy. Something even more unbelievable is the fact that Guido’s son, Joshua, is completely unaware of the hostility and prejudice against Jews. Up until when Joshua and his family are interned in concentration camp, Joshua’s entire life is lived during the era of World War II. Yet, he is blind to the animosity against Jews. At the time, propaganda against Jews would be everywhere and harsh treatment of Jews would be evident. Even when he is confined in concentration camp, he is still clueless to what is going on, which I think should be very unlikely. The way how some parts of the plot are not realistically written somewhat bothers me.
Speaking of lack of realism, in my opinion, the setting of the concentration camp in the film did not convey a sense of danger and fear that I would have expected from a Nazi concentration camp. From what I’ve learned about Nazi concentration camps, I thought they were very cruel, harrowing places to say the least. But, the concentration camp illustrated in Life is Beautiful is missing the perils and tribulations that I imagined. Nobody is starving or dying, there is no excessively dangerous or back-breaking work, and there is not a great amount of oppression from the Nazis. In Life is Beautiful, the condition of the concentration camp is that bedrooms are overcrowded, Jews held in confinement are dirty, and Jews have to carry heavy anvils every now and then. I simply expected a concentration camp to be much more horrendous than the concentration camp portrayed in this film.

As for the characters of Life is Beautiful, my favourite character is definitely Guido, played by Roberto Benigni. I was very impressed by Benigni’s acting. Even though he is the director of the film, it is obvious that he did not neglect directing himself while he directed the rest of the cast. Benigni played Guido’s character outstandingly well. His charisma, which is magnetically charming and appealing, is clearly visible throughout the film. I liked how Guido’s character is full of vitality and lives life enthusiastically. I was also amused by Guido’s hilarious antics, like when he helps a Nazi soldier explain the “rules” of concentration camp. But, most of all, I respect Guido’s will to protect his son, Joshua. I truly admired Guido’s positivity and optimism despite being in such a horrific and frightening place. Protecting Joshua is Guido’s top priority and he does everything he can to prevent Joshua from harm and learning the realities of Nazi concentration camp. People who wish to protect precious people in their lives can relate to Guido. Anybody, but especially mothers and fathers, will be able to make connections to how Guido protects his loved ones no matter what.

Not only did I did enjoy Roberto Benigni’s character, but I also quite enjoyed Giorgio Cantarini’s character, Joshua. For such a young actor, Cantarini played Joshua’s character extremely well. As I watched Cantarini, it did not feel like he was just acting the role, but rather, it felt like he was living the role. His portrayal of a sincere, innocent little boy, who is unsuspecting of what is really going on, seems real. Before his family is sent to concentration camp, he questions why Jews are not allowed in certain shops in town, which does not seem fake. Cantarini’s excellent acting made Joshua appear to be genuinely naïve and innocent. Furthermore, in the concentration camp, Joshua’s strong connection with Guido, as well as his desire to be with his mother and go home also felt genuinely authentic. I think that people who have grown out of their childhood can relate to Joshua. As a young child, you are naïve and do not have wisdom that adults have and you do not know what is really going on in the world.
All things considered, Life is Beautiful is a phenomenal film that everyone should watch. The compelling plot will move you. Although I have pet peeves about the film’s realism and how the concentration camp is poorly portrayed, this movie is not about the Holocaust, Nazis, or World War II. This movie is about a man trying his best to protect his son’s innocence in the midst of bleak and adverse circumstances and about how love conquers all. If you are looking for a film that will make you laugh, cry, and become inspired to do whatever it takes protect the ones you love, Life is Beautiful is a film that you should definitely watch. I give Life is Beautiful four and a half out of five stars.

Works Cited
BoyActors. Giorgio Cantarini. Digital image. BoyActors. BoyActors, 20 May 2003. Web. 23 May 2012. <http://www.boyactors.org.uk/actor.php?ref=1441&gt;.
Coby. Life Is Beautiful. Digital image. Listal. Listal, 25 Mar. 2011. Web. 23 May 2012. <http://www.listal.com/viewimage/1827750&gt;.
NoMan. Four and a half stars. Digital image. Clker. Rolera LLC, 13 Feb. 2011. Web. 23 May 2012. <http://www.clker.com/cliparts/1/0/R/e/X/1/four-and-a-half-star-rating-md.png&gt;.
Sakarie. Musical Notes. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 1 Jan. 2008. Web. 23 May 2012. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Musical_notes.svg&gt;.
Vanjagenije. Vitaebella. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 27 Sept. 2009. Web. 23 May 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vitaebella.jpg&gt;.

Life is Beautiful and Pan’s Labyrinth

Recently, I watched two very interesting and touching films in my English class called Life is Beautiful and Pan’s Labyrinth. Life is Beautiful, starring Roberto Benigni, is 1997 film about an eccentric and light-hearted Italian Jew named Guido, who serendipitously finds the love of his life and persistently tries to woo her. Halfway into the film, the story takes an astonishing turn, which I do not want to spoil, that you will not expect and dramatically change the tone of the movie.

On the other hand, Pan’s Labyrinth, starring Ivana Bacquero, is a 2006 film about a young girl named Ofelia, who moves in with her wicked stepfather, Vidal, on the front lines of war in fascist Spain. Shortly after arriving at her new home, a mystical messenger from another world tells her that she is the long-lost princess of the underworld. The messenger instructs Ofelia to complete three daunting tasks so that she can return to the king of the underworld, who has been searching for her for millennia.

Both Life is Beautiful and Pan’s Labyrinth are marvellous films that I enjoyed very much. Their captivating stories and stellar actors were a pleasure to watch. If you want to watch a film that has an engaging plot and commendable acting, Life is Beautiful and Pan’s Labyrinth would be great movies for you!

Works Cited
Life Is Beautiful. Dir. Roberto Benigni. Perf. Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, and Giorgio Cantarini. Miramax Films, 1997. DVD.
Pan’s Labyrinth. Dir. Guillermo Del Toro. Perf. Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, and Sergi López. Picturehouse, 2006. DVD.