BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Monitoring: Media reports
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Friday, 11 May, 2001, 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK
'Life is not beautiful' if Berlusconi wins
A scene from the film Life is Beautiful
Comedy, fantasy, tragedy: Life is Beautiful

The popular Italian comic and actor Roberto Benigni has appeared on Italian television and warned that life would not be so beautiful if Silvio Berlusconi won Sunday's general election.

Mr Benigni - who directed and starred in the Oscar-winning black comedy Life is Beautiful which is set in a Nazi concentration camp - said in an interview on a popular show on the state's RAI Channel One that the prospect of Mr Berlusconi taking the helm was "unnatural".

Extraordinary things are happening, things never heard of or seen before

Roberto Benigni

The issue of whether Mr Benigni would have the opportunity to make such comments in the national media in future has been aired by leading writer Umberto Eco, who fears Mr Berlusconi could gain a stranglehold over the media.

Extraordinary events

Mr Benigni told presenter Enzo Biagi: "We are in the middle of the electoral campaign, and I don't want to talk about politics: I am only here to talk about Berlusconi."

"I want to stay as far as I can from politics, I don't want to talk about politics, so let's talk about Berlusconi," he went on, gesticulating wildly.

I don't know if you have seen what is happening, the Pope entering a mosque for the first time, genetically modified children, Berlusconi likely to become prime minister, unnatural stuff

"It is a moment in the electoral campaign and in the Italian political situation when extraordinary things are happening, things never heard of or seen before.

"I don't know if you have seen what is happening, the Pope entering a mosque for the first time, genetically modified children, Berlusconi likely to become prime minister, unnatural stuff," Mr Benigni said.

"Upheavals are happening which make one think this is an exceptional moment."

Mr Benigni said he was seeking to be "even-handed: I don't like Berlusconi, I like (Francesco) Rutelli".

He said Mr Berlusconi would probably name a German shepherd dog as defence minister and Formula One motor racing champion Michael Schumacher as transport minister - a reference to an announcement that the president of Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo, could join the next government.
Roberto Benigni
Court jester and acknowledged leftist

The former centre-left premier Massimo D'Alema received fulsome praise. "A parliament without him would be like pizza without mozzarella."

Mr Benigni's attack was dismissed by Mr Berlusconi's political allies as "just another dirty trick".

Media stranglehold

The internationally renowned novelist Umberto Eco joined the debate on whether a Berlusconi victory would herald the demise of press and broadcasting freedom.

Even if we suppose Berlusconi is an absolutely correct man ... one has never seen in the history of any country, a newspaper or television chain spontaneously launching a campaign against its owner

Umberto Eco

Mr Berlusconi has interests in Italy's leading private TV networks as well as newspapers and magazines. There are fears that a Berlusconi victory could lead to his controlling the state RAI TV and radio channels as well.

Mr Eco said Italians would "feel less free" if "all the newspapers... belong to the same owner and fatally reflect his opinions".

"Even if we suppose Berlusconi is an absolutely correct man... one has never seen in the history of any country, a newspaper or television chain spontaneously launching a campaign against its owner," Mr Eco warned.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

22 Mar 99 | Entertainment
Telling the Holocaust story
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Media reports stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Media reports stories