Life is blending. A reading of Roberto Benigni's film

Emanuele Broccio


The considerable increase of critical studies on Cognitive Poetics is freeing it from the allegation of just offering a new and seductive terminology, but is instead earning the discipline dignity through the application of scientific methodology.

My article, moved by the interest around the phenomenon of blending, proposes a reading of La vita è bella by R. Benigni exactly from this point of view. The movie was harshly criticized, both for a lack of technical skills and for telling a story of death and extermination through a comical perspective. Through the application of blending and other tools of classical critical analysis, my goal will be to demonstrate how the structure of the film is composed of a double identity: reality and fantasy, comic and tragic, which saves it from becoming melodramatic and pathetic by sustaining the empathy from the audience.

My analysis underlines that indeed the entire movie is constructed on a continuous blending and also marks a realization of modalities, proving through a well-known and deeply appreciated work that Cognitive Sciences are able to offer efficient tools of analysis that validate previous critical intuitions and also highlight parts of the work remaining in the shadows and  bounded to an aesthetic valuation.


blending; history; cognitive integration

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