About a month ago, near the end of December, I rented a wonderful film called "La Tigre e La Neve" (The Tiger and the Snow). I'd never heard of it, but it's directed by that amazing Italian wizard, Roberto Benigni. I love this guy. He is SO full of life and so passionate about everything he does, as is his wife, Nicoletta Braschi, who has the face of an angel and usually plays his love interest in his films. They are such a dynamic duo! I remember beaming, giggling and even standing up in my living room applauding with excitement the year he won Best Actor at the Academy Awards and nearly stepped on Steven Spielberg's head in his exuberance to accept the highly deserved prize. Such an inspiration! Every pore of his being is drenched in the oxygen of living life to its fullest.
One of the best scenes (or, rather, several of them) in the film is a recurring dream the main character, Attilio (played by Benigni), keeps having in which he is about to marry Vittoria (played by, of course, Braschi), literally the woman of his dreams, in his underwear. He keeps arriving late, in boxers, and enters this beautiful courtyard setting where his wedding is taking place. The music starts, he stumbles forward, half naked, and every seated guest turns to follow him up the aisle towards his bride-to-be.
Benigni adds such a magical touch to all his films, a Chaplin-esque quality, even when they deal with such serious content as the holocaust in his masterpiece, La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful), or the Iraq war, as this film does. This actor/director never fails to surprise and engage his audience. Even amidst his comic genius, he doesn't pull punches about the sorrows in Life. But he does like to emphasize its JOY. He is a true poet of life, in my opinion. The Tiger and the Snow unveils what lengths a person will go to for someone he loves. No obstacle, no distance, no boundaries, no war is too great to overcome in the name of love. This film makes your heart sing. It did so for mine, anyhow.
Two of my all-time favourite performers are in this film: Jean Reno plays a beautifully understated cameo role as Attilio's long-time friend in the film; and the best part of the recurring dream sequences is listening to the most exquisite song for the wedding march up the aisle each time the dream occurs. The wedding band is led by Tom Waits and his song gives me shivers every time I hear it.
So tonight, because it's Groundhog Day (which was also a wonderful film about living through a recurring day, over and over until it's lived right) and because the end of Winter is nearing, I want to dedicate the song Tom wrote and recorded for this enchanting film to shadows. To Déjà vu. To signs. Like snow. And tigers. To believing.
Music: You Can Never Hold Back Spring, Tom Waits
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