Compare and Contrast Essay on Novel 'Night'

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From little children being burned to characters wanting their family members to die, from princesses falling out the sky to people being gassed alive, ‘Night’ and ‘Life is Beautiful’ portray the same dreadful event that took place almost 80 years ago. However, the aims are wildly different. The memoir ‘Night’ written by Elie Wiesel and the film ‘Life is Beautiful’ directed by Roberto Benigni are both stories based on people trying to survive the Holocaust. However, the memoir and the movie both take completely different perspectives on trying to represent the same event. By taking a more realistic perspective, ‘Night’ is able to aid further in the understanding of the most terrible of human events, whereas ‘Life is Beautiful’ romantic-comedy take removes some of the truth of the event thereby rendering it less powerful. ‘Night’ is written in first person from the viewpoint of a boy (Elie) who goes on a journey fighting for survival within concentration camps while learning the hard facts about the Holocaust. The film ‘Life is Beautiful’ similarly is based on the relationship between a father and son, however, this relationship is based on the father trying to hide the truth of the Holocaust from his little son. Leading the movie to protect the reality of the Holocaust.

The purposes of the two different pieces are completely different, which helps the realism of the memoir come on top of the comic take that the movie is trying to deliver. In this case, it is clear that the memoir written by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was written to show and give people the experience of a Jewish person trying to survive a tragic event, because of which the author writes about even the most horrific events to give a realistic representation. Throughout the book, Elie witnesses many sorts of deaths, however, in chapter four Elie describes a heartbreaking scene in which a beautiful young boy, a “Pipel,” is hanged along with two men for the crime of sabotage. To make matters worse the boy is too light to die instantly because of this he suffers a slow agonizing death, which has a massive influence on Elie for the rest of his life (page 64). In contrast, the purpose of the film was very different, it was to entertain the audience rather than educate. This was the case for numerous reasons, the main actor and director Roberto Benigni was a comedian and he wanted to portray the same story with his twist. “I am a comedian and my way is not to show directly. Just to evoke. This to me was wonderful, the balance to comedy with the tragedy.' An example of Roberto's implying can be seen right through the movie such as in the gas chamber scenes. When the director shows people going into the chamber, however, the scene jumps to concentration camp prisoners sorting out the clothes of the dead. This pattern can be seen once again in the last moments of the film when Roberto’s character is taken to a dark alley and gunned down. Implying heavily of his death, however, at no point in the movie is death directly mentioned. Hiding the crucial reality from the audience.

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The different forms of the two pieces also make up one of the reasons why the book Night is a more honest approach to the Holocaust than its counterpart ‘Life is Beautiful’. The text ‘Night’ uses the power of words to paint a picture of the story in the audience. This power of the words is also exploited by the author through the use of short sentences and descriptive language to give a brutally honest reflection of the Holocaust. When faith starts to slowly fade away one of Elie’s inmates states with “His cold eyes [staring] at [Elie]” that he has “more faith in Hitler than in anyone else.” He then adds that Hitler “alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people” (page 67). Showing this in the movie would play with the audience's emotions and appeal to humanity taking out the real message within. Situations that are too agonizing to witness can be put into words to still deliver the right message without the pain. Which is what Elie does successfully in order to deliver his message. On the other hand, ‘Life is Beautiful’ is set against the backdrop of the Holocaust, but the tragedy is not its primary focus because of this the visual aspect of the piece, is great at foreshowing the real circumstances of the Holocaust. Its use of bright colors and comic elements is necessary for the movie to entertain while hiding the reality of what is to come. For example, in one of the first scenes of the movie Roberto playing Guido makes his entry to a standing ovation and nothing out of the ordinary can be witnessed. However, if the scene is analyzed again, a man can be seen doing the Nazi salute which is impossible to pick to the naked eye because of the bright colors and exciting energy. This ideology is continued from the first scene of the film to the last jeopardizing the truth of the Holocaust.

The motives of the characters and the plot of the two different pieces dictate why ‘Night’ is a more truthful illustration of the Holocaust. The plot in the memoir is about Elie the main character trying to do anything in his power to survive along with his father. The character’s motive also aligns with the plot and because of this, he tackles all his obstacles head-on. The major obstacle and hardship Elie faces is the lack of food in the concentration camps. However, instead of giving up, the character tries his best to survive, constantly scavenging for food and going days without eating. After a day full of work Elie comments that he “HAD SPENT the day without food”(page 31). This brings the realism out of the Book. Similarly, the plot in the film ‘Life is Beautiful’ was also one of survival except for this time it was the father trying to save his family. However, that was not the main motive and purpose of Guido. As seen right throughout the movie the main purpose of the character was to hide the real truth of the Holocaust. Which in hindsight was what the movie was doing to its audience. In one of the very first scenes in the concentration camp, Guido volunteers to be the translator for the Nazis. Guido having no idea of the German tongue still translated everything in a comedic way to convince his son of the game that was being made. Another major scene with the camp concept is when Giorgio (Guido’s son) finds Guido working labor and manages to convince his son that he is building the prize tank of the supposedly game they were playing. The real truth of the Holocaust is faded from the movie showing a purified reality of the horrific event.

The book ‘Night’ gives more of an honest representation of the event because of the author's purpose to show what survival looks like in the infamous event. Whereas the movie tries to entertain the audience through a story based on the Second World War. In addition, the two forms of the different pieces also help Elie Wiesel deliver the true message without any limitations. In contrast, the visual aspect of the movie puts a limitation on what the director can and can not show. The plot of the two stories also differentiates. In the book, the plot is about the survival of a Jewish boy in a horrendous concentration camp, where cruelty is everywhere. The movie is based on a similar story, however, the main plot revolves around Guido trying to hide the truth of the cruelty shower upon the Jews from the Nazis from his little son. All in all, both deliver strong messages about the truth in society. This portrays that to show realism one needs to be honest. Something the memoir ‘Night’ does well. 

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Compare and Contrast Essay on Novel ‘Night’. (2024, January 30). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
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