Notable Jewish Moment: He's put in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. But, when forced to board the train to said concentration camp, Guido jokes to his son about requesting to take the bus back due to unsatisfying travel conditions.
Classic Quote: "'Not Allowed' signs are the latest trend! The other day, I was in a shop with my friend the kangaroo, but their sign said, 'No Kangaroos Allowed,' and I said to my friend, 'Well, what can I do? They don't allow kangaroos.'"
Holocaust films are tough. That's not to say they can't be great (they usually are). But they're tough to watch, and, unless you're a student of film, even tougher to truly love.
Roberto Benigni changed all that with Life is Beautifulwhen he pulled off the impossible: He made a funny, touching, and completely loveable film about the Holocaust, all of which is filtered through the character he plays in it, Guido Orefice. Guido's charismatic, a charmer, and will do anything for the laugh.
The fact that he maintains all of that in the face of everything he's put through, right into the final minutes of the film, might make also him the greatest hero on this list. If Benigni's Guido—or the now-famous, unabashedly joyful chair-hopping Oscar acceptance speech he gave for Best Foreign Film—isn't an inspiration for the power of positive psychology, we don't know what is.