Comparison and contrast between ‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel and ‘Life is beautiful’ by Robert Benigini.
‘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 starts 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 Benigini 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 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. 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 but 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 life in the camps?’ Joshua had to hide, as his father said him so but Elie had to work and stay likes other prisoners. The main thing was common in them that they both were children, who were meant to be killed at the beginning; 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 the order of his father. 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 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 a different life in the camps.
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Both of them had to leave their mother at the arrival to the camp and stay with their fathers. Though Elie lived with his father, he had to work and was himself 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 the different blocks. Joshua always stayed with his father although he was supposed to be killed at the arrival to the camp. Before arrival to the camps, Elie undergoes situations like setting up of ghettoes and not allowed to leave their houses and forced to wear the yellow star. Whatever happened, Joshua never came across these situations before arrival to 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 one night he was taken and killed. Joshua's father died when he was searching for Dora, Joshua's mother.
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 more 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 were told by the SS in order to make people take their side that Jews are bad and harm, 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 of 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 and Schlomo was from a middle class family but on the 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 cheer 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 of 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 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 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 sent to the concentration camp as well.
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 compare to the 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 in Life is Beautiful, guards mostly never speak or mistreat with the prisoner. The prisoners were always shown working on their own and guards just stay 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 to make 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 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 Guido is taking his son to the bed after he had dinner with German kids. So this makes the film different from what happened during the Holocaust as Holocaust was a period when many people were killed, but Benigini 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 about 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 a 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 commit any crime even when they stole something. For instance when there was 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 ss. He was not even punished when the care-taker 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 arrives 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 the old people were killed, but in the book, women were also killed. The books show that there was 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 the arrival.
From all above examples, we see that Benigini 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. At 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 sacrifice made my father to save us.”
The ends of the film and the books are quite different from each other as in book, Jewish resistance has already took control over the camp before 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 symbol for 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 from last few months, did not even try to get some food. So in my opinion, the conclusion of the book fitted to the situation of the holocaust but the conclusion of the film did not really fits to that situation but it seems that it focuses more on the story that '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.