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Abstract

The paper explores the way illusions influence our lives as based on the film Life is Beautiful. They are based on our intuitions that can be very deceptive. People tend to make themselves believe that they can feel or sense something, and by doing that mistake their wishes for reality. People might base their thinking and actions on their intuitions, which is likely to lead to a confusion in their relationships with other people. Our minds do not work the way we think they should; and that is true for every individual. If we see the world and ourselves in the way we are used to we may miss a lot of things. However, illusions play an important role in lives of many people. The film shows that while some illusions are empty and lead to no results, others help to go through some major trials of life. If some illusions result in self-deception and ruining of a person's world, cause a lot of damage and pain to people around us, others contribute to saving a person’s life. Illusions may be naive and harmless or they can be creative and constructive.

Keywords: illusions, intuition, relationships.

Illusions of Life

Illusions are based on our intuitions, which can be very deceptive. People think they feel or sense something, and by doing that mistake their wishes for reality. When people base their thinking and actions on their intuitions, a great confusion may come into their relationships with other people. Our minds do not work the way we think they should – and that is true for every individual. If we see the world and ourselves in the way we are used to, we may miss a lot of things.

However, illusions created by the interpretation of our brain of sensory stimulation play an important role in lives of many people. Some illusions can be empty and make no changes in one’s life; others help to go through some major trials of life, though. If some illusions lead to self-deception and devastation of a person's world, may cause a lot of damage and pain to people around us, others contribute to improving, or even saving, a person’s life. Illusions may be naive and harmless or they can be creative and constructive. The world is full of stories of how illusions helped some people to go through devastating situations and stay in one piece. This paper will be based on the film Life is Beautiful directed by the Italian producer Roberto Benigni, which is a good example of how illusions helped a person to survive during the Holocaust, which was an extremely devastating tragedy.

After the film was released, Benigni became very well-known outside of Italy. He both directed the film and played the main character named Guido. The film Life is Beautiful depicts the events of World War II when a young Italian man of Jewish descent is seized by Nazis and sent to a concentration camp together with his son, a boy of five or so. Nothing good awaits for them since the number of children in the camp is quickly decreasing, and both adults and children are doomed to annihilation.

Guido uses his rich imagination to help create illusions in his son’s imagination in order to make him believe that all that is happening is just a game. He tries to save his child from the trauma of violence and death that reigned in the Nazi camp and invented a story that everything happening is a complicated game with a goal to gain 1,000 points and win a tank as the grand prize. Guido’s son, Joshua, believes his father and follows all his instructions having no suspicion concerning the actual reality.

The father explains to his son that the guards are mean only because they also want to win the prize, and the number of children is decreasing simply because they are hiding in order to gain more points. To conceal the cruel and realistic conditions of the camp, Guido tells his son that the competition for the prize was very tough and Joshua is not supposed to cry and has to hide from the guards in order to gain more points.

Surprisingly, the boy believes his father and does everything he tells him to. He avoids many dangers and is finally saved by American soldiers who liberate the camp. The father is so artistic that the illusions he created in his son’s imagination are very powerful. Joshua never understands what has really happened to them. In fact, when American tanks occupy the camp, he thinks his prize is there and he has won the game.

The film was partially based on a real story that occurred during World War II. Benigni’s father was arrested before his birth and spent three years in a concentration camp so the actor actually played some of what his family went through.

As it is shown in the film, the power of illusion can have a positive effect. This power helps the boy to live in a world of imagination. It helps him to avoid traumas of internment in a camp with its brutal life and inhumane guards who treat prisoners like animals. Illusions of game, as they are depicted in the film, create a special world that serves as a cocoon to protect the child from violence. 

Positive illusions contribute to mental health. A person who faces a threat is effective if he/she develops illusions, maintains them and then allows them to restore him/her (Colvin, 1994, p.4). Positive illusions are very helpful in the times of depression. They help a person to concentrate on good things, which are imaginary, and not notice existing bad things. At the same time, they distract the person’s attention from threatening or depressing issues, which bring confusion and devastation.

However, it is important to use discernment since not all situations are identical. Sometimes people never grow up and remain in their imaginary world throughout their whole lives. They keep on ignoring the problems and never try to solve them. For example, due to economic crisis many people lose their jobs. In the situation when someone loses his or her sources of income, the right thing to do would be to go out and do one’s best to find a new job. Sometimes the job a person finds may not be very exciting at first, and he or she would rather stay at home and live off the parents or the welfare thinking that he or she deserves something better. At the same time, the person lives in illusions and does nothing to change the situation.

As it can be seen from the above, illusions can help us to go through a very difficult and devastating experience if they distract our attention from negative things. Although, if a person lives only by illusions and escapes the reality of life, he or she may find him/herself in a dead end.

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