“Night” is a book by Elie Wiesel in which he describes his experience of being sent to the german concentrations camps during the Holocaust. The book started when he with his family lived in Sighet, an area in Hungary. In addition, German and the Hungarian police set up the ghettoes where all Jews lived. This book tells us his story from being setting up the ghettoes until the end of the holocaust. “Life is beautiful” is a film by Robert Benigni based on the Holocaust in the funny version so that the viewers do not get bored. It is a story of Guido, who is a young Italian Jew and starts loving a lady. With the help of the funny version of the movie, he tries to tell the audience ‘how the Jews were sent to the concentration camps and how he saved his son’s life?’ Comparison and contrast between Elie Wiesel of “Night” and Joshua of “Life is beautiful”.
Elie plays the role of the main character and the narrator of the story in Night, and Joshua is not the main character of the story, but he is the narrator of the story as well. We came across this when at the start of the movie, in a voice, a man describes the ensuing movie as his memory of past events and at the end of the story when he says, “This was the sacrifice made by my father”. However, both are the narrator of the stories. The night is a story based on Elie’s point of view, and Life is beautiful is a story based on Guido’s, his father, point of view, not on his. Both were Jewish and taken to a concentration camp. In spite of being Jewish, both of their lives were quite different from each other in the camps, as Elie knew about everything happening around him and has to help himself in order to survive. Still, on the other side, we know that Joshua never came to know about the reality of concentration camp.
Therefore, it was very different ‘how both of them led their lives in the camps?’ Joshua had to hide, as his father said to him, but Elie had to work and stay like other prisoners. The main thing that was common in them was that they were both children who were meant to be killed initially; somehow, they got rid of it and started living in the camp. Elie survived by telling the guards that he is eighteen, so he was not killed, and Joshua survived because he hid as he followed his father’s order. As you can see, the survival of Joshua is quite unrealistic because he hid in the compartments of the adult prisoners. However, in the Night, it was very different; everybody only cared for himself and tried to snatch food from the weaker ones. In the case of Joshua, this did not happen; rather, it seemed like that everybody was fine with his secret of being hidden. Moreover, none tried to snatch the food from others. However, both of them led different life in the camps.
Both of them had to leave their mother at the arrival at the camp and stay with their fathers. Though Elie lived with his father, he had to work and was responsible for everything that happened to him, but Joshua was the responsibility of his father, who was the cause of his survival. We know that Elie always had to try hard in order to see his father, as they were separated at Buna concentration camp and put into different blocks. Joshua always stayed with his father, although he was supposed to be killed at the arrival at the camp. Before arrival at the camps, Elie undergoes situations like setting up ghettoes, not being allowed to leave their houses, and being forced to wear the yellow star. Whatever happened, Joshua never came across these situations before their arrival at the camp.
In one way, they both were similar that they survived, but their father died. Elie’s father died, as he was ill and cannot move on with the standard of life, so he was taken and killed one night. Joshua’s father died when he was searching for Dora, Joshua’s mother. So if we compare Joshua and Elie Wiesel by imagining that Elie was able to see Joshua’s situation, according to him, Joshua was living in easier and comfortable in the camp because it was very difficult for Elie to survive in the camp, as he had to undergo situations where he was nearly starving, and abused mentally and physically.
Comparison and contrast between Schlomo and Guido. As we see in the movie and the book that both were taken to the concentration camps because they were Jewish. We also see the reasons, which the SS tells us in order to make people take their side that Jews are bad and harmful, is clearly shown in the book and the movie; it was untrue. We see that Guido and Shlomo lead their own life without disturbing or interfering in others’ lives. The other reason for bringing Jews to the camps was that they had taken all the wealth but is also portrayed wrong as Guido was a waiter and also did not have so much money. Schlomo was from a middle-class family, but on the other hand, he was an important member of the Jewish community in Sighet. Schlomo also had contacts with some Hungarian policemen, who tried to help him. For example, when Elie says, “Someone is knocking at the sealed window, one that faced outside.
It was only after the war that I found out who had knocked that night. It was an inspector of the Hungarian police”(page 14). We also see that Guido had a funny image while Schlomo took every situation very seriously. Guido is brilliant as the father who uses imagination and cheers to shield his son Joshua from the reality and horrors of the Holocaust. Both of them cared for their sons, but Guido was the cause of the survival of his son while on the other hand, it was too hard for Schlomo to take care or responsibility for his son as he was quite old for the work given to him, so his son took care of him. But Guido was also helped by others to make his son unaware of the reality, while Schlomo was helped only once when they were on the train to Buchenwald, and somebody was pressing Elie’s neck. Schlomo called out his friend to help him to save his son’s life. This shows that, in reality, everybody cared for themselves and killed others in order to get their food.
We know that Guido was married to an Italian but not Jewish, while Schlomo was married to a Jewish lady. Although being married to a non-Jewish lady, Dora, Guido was sent to the concentration camp. This is a symbol showing that even the people who were married to the non-Jewish lady and their children were not given any kind of benefit, and they were also sent to the concentration camp. Schlomo died sometime before the liberation as he was ill, so SS officers took him one night, and he was probably killed, but Guido died when he was trying to save his wife and son. We know that the stories of Schlomo and Guido was happened or set during the Holocaust, so Schlomo’s story fits more to the history as compared to Guido’s story. This is because Guido was young and was able to work, but he died, and his wife and son survived, who were meant to be killed at the start. So it seems unrealistic that they survived, and he died.
Comparison and contrast between the camps shown in NIGHT and LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. As we compare the camps shown in Night and Life is Beautiful, we see that guards mostly never speak or mistreat the prisoner in Life is Beautiful. The prisoners were always shown working independently, and guards just stayed near them and watched them working. They never gave them orders to do the work. But in Night, guards played an important role in the working of the camp. They were responsible for making the prisoners work. In Night, Elie has discussed many violent scenes. For example, when he discusses his first day at the camp, “Not far from us, flames were leaping up from a ditch, gigantic flames. They were burning something. A lorry drew up at the pit and delivered its load-little children. Babies! Around us, everyone was weeping. Someone began to recite the Kaddish.
I do not know if it has ever happened before, in the long history of the Jews, that people have ever recited the prayer for the dead for themselves (…) Never shall I forget that night, the first night in a camp (…) Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent sky.”(page 33 and 34) and the hanging of the prisoners. But in Life is Beautiful, there is only one scene where killing is shown when Guidotakesg his son to bed after dinner with German kids. So this makes the film different from what happened during the Holocaust as the Holocaust was a period when many people were killed. Still, Benigni has omitted the important part of the Holocaust and focused on the story.
In the film, people are never shown starving for food or working hard in the camp, while in the book, Elie said that the prisoners used to snatch food from each other, and they had to work each day. For example, when Elie went to the Dentist, and he discusses himself, “I was nothing but a body. Perhaps even less: a famished stomach. The stomach alone was measuring time.” (Page 52) Prisoners were given bread and a thin soup a day. But as you see in the film, Joshua had dinner with the German kids and also was never found by the SS officers. We see in the book that prisoners were hanged or shot when they committed any crime, even when they stole something. For instance, when there was a red alert and guards were ordered to kill anybody who is found outside the blocks, Prisoners saw, “Next to the kitchen, toe cauldrons of hot, steaming soup had been left untended.
Two cauldrons of soup! (…) but who dare? Fear was greater than hunger. Suddenly, we saw the door of Block 37 opened slightly. A man appeared, crawling snakelike in the direction of cauldrons. (…) Then for no apparent reason, he let out a terrible scream, a death rattle such as I have never heard before and, with open mouth, thrust his head toward the still steaming liquid.”(Page 59 and 60). But in the film, we see that when Guido and Joshua gave his message to his wife, Dora, using a speaker, nobody reacted to this act, and he was never punished for doing so. He was not even punished when the caretaker of German kids found him trying to communicate with them. In Night, women and small children were separated at the arrival to the camp.
We come to know this when Elie and his family arrive at Birkenau, the guards told the prisoner,”‘Men to the left! Women to the right!'” (Page 29), but in Life is Beautiful Joshua, though being small, went with his father and Dora stayed in the part of the camp. But there were no women in the camp, where Elie and his father stayed. So in the movie, it seems that only small children and old people were killed, but women were also killed in the book. The books show that there was a difference between the women and men in the camps, but in the film, no such scene is shown when this difference is shown. In the film, women were taken from the camp, probably to kill them, and in the film, they are exterminated at their arrival. From all the above examples, we see that Benigni has omitted most of the importance of the camp and its working but put more focus on the storyline, but Elie has described each and every part of the camp he has seen.
Comparison and contrast between the conclusion of “Night” and the conclusion of “Life is beautiful”. In “Night”, Elie stayed in Buchenwald until April 11th. During this period, Elie is emotionally numb. “Since my father’s death, nothing mattered to me anymore.” (Page 113) As the front drew ever closer, the Germans decided to liquidate the camp. But on April 10th, as the prisoners gather for an assembly, the camp resistance successfully takes control of Buchenwald. The Germans do not put up a fight. At about six o’clock in the evening, American tanks arrive. The first thing the prisoners did as free men is to go through the provisions. They think not of revenge, nor their families, but of bread. Three days after the liberation of Buchenwald, Elie suffered from food poisoning and spent two weeks in the hospital between life and death.
In the film, Guido dies, trying to save his wife from being liberated and his son from being noticed. In the end, when the whole camp was empty, Joshua came from the cupboard where he was hiding and saw an American tank which he thinks is his award for winning the competition. Then he saw his mother and run to her, and the film ends with the voice saying that “this was a sacrifice made by my father to save us.”The ends of the film and the books are quite different from each other. In the book, Jewish resistance has already taken control over the camp before the arrival of the American troops, but in the film, everybody stayed hidden until American troops arrived. In the book, most of the prisoners stayed at the camp even after liberation, probably because they didn’t have any other place where they could live, but in the film, everybody left the camp and went somewhere.
This was probably used as a symbol of freedom. In the book, it is written that the people didn’t think of revenge but of food, but in the movie, nobody was shown hungry or trying to fetch some food, which can’t be true that the people who are nearly starving for the last few months, did not even try to get some food. So, in my opinion, the conclusion of the book fitted the situation of the holocaust, but the conclusion of the film did not really fit that situation. Still, it seems that it focuses more on the story of ‘how to make the meeting of Joshua and Dora more interesting?’ I think that the film is presumably intended as a tribute to the powers of imagination, innocence, and love in the most harrowing of circumstances.