Roberto Benigni

The Lie That Nourishes

09/24/1999
Staff Writer
In an unnamed Polish ghetto in 1943 or 1944, a former potato pancake restaurateur is feeding the Jews hope instead of food. Jakob Heym has (he says, falsely) a hidden radio, punishable by death at Nazi hands. He fabricates and whispers, at his forced labor job, reports of the advancing Red Army, boosting the spirits of the doomed ghetto residents. And he tells Lina, an 8-year-old orphan he has surreptitiously taken under his care, happy-ending fairy tales. Jakob is a liar. And Robin Williams, the master of thespian overkill, is an understated Jakob.
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