Vincenzo Cerami | Screenwriter, author, 72

Posted: July 22, 2013

Vincenzo Cerami, 72, an Italian writer who coauthored the screenplay of Life Is Beautiful, died July 17 in Rome. His death was widely reported by Italian media. The cause could not immediately be confirmed.

Life Is Beautiful, starring Roberto Benigni, who also directed, is an award-winning tragicomedy about a father's quest to save his son's life and innocence amid the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp.

Mr. Cerami, a protege of Pier Paolo Pasolini, the writer and director, was a poet, novelist, and playwright who wrote or cowrote screenplays of more than 40 films. His greatest success in the United States was Life Is Beautiful.

Few viewers of the 1999 Oscars ceremony could forget the sight of Benigni, the director and star, exuberantly clambering over theater seats to collect the Academy Award for best foreign-language film. Benigni won the award for best actor; he and Mr. Cerami were nominated for best original screenplay.

Critics were divided about the film. "It dares to laugh in the face of the unthinkable," Janet Maslin wrote in the New York Times. "And because Mr. Benigni can be heart-rending without a trace of the maudlin, it works."

"Sentimentality is a kind of fascism too, robbing us of judgment and moral acuity," Richard Schickel wrote in Time, "and it needs to be resisted. Life Is Beautiful is a good place to start." - Washington Post

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