I saw this film in the U.S. when I lived in Florida in the Noughties. I remember so well that I strolled into the living room where my house mates were watching a film, and I just joined them. The film was already quite a bit in, at least 30 minutes or so. And as the theme of the movie was very familiar to me, I just watched.
I grew up with documentaries on Hitler, Nazis, the Holocaust, crimes that humanity will not forget. So, seeing the familiar pictures just let me sit and watch if there was any new thing unfolding.
And it was.
The fictional, yet beautiful story of a father who promised his little son a tank when he wins a game they were playing.
The catch was, the son had to play-pretend a hide and seek game during WWII after being captured by the Nazis. In order to win, the main rule of the “game” was that he had to hid and be silent. What the son didn’t know was that he had to play being silent in order to survive. And if he won the game of being the most silent player, he’d see a tank as a reward!
The spoiler is (close your eyes), the son did see his reward in the end.
He lost his dad, though, but as the writer and director (main character) wanted, the little kid at least saw a tank.
For all of you who are reading this, you go like wtf…
I got it…
So, I spare you with explaining my education in history in front of a TV watching what Germany’s crime was and why the world keeps using this as an example of evil, and how all the other nations closed their eyes to it. And I’m proud that my dad forced us to watch the atrocities and not close our eyes.
But rewinding back to the movie “Life is Beautiful” … there is one scene that I always think of when I think of this movie. Before being captured, the father tried to get a job in a nightmare situation during occupation, he was being trained as a waiter, and his superior who trained him said an unforgettable thing about humility, dignity, self-respect and strength: “God serves men but he’s not a servant to men“.
This is what I always tried to portrait to my teams when I was a team leader in Pret and saw their frustration with customers that at times were rude and disrespectful. I’d remember this scene and also told my team that they serve customers but they are not their servants when my colleagues felt humiliated by them.
When hard-working people are called the C-word, the loud music makes a customer tweet instead of asking the shop staff politely to turn down the volume, a customer who wants a fuzzy warm feeling and staff to smile to all customers … and Pret does the thing they do, “prostituting” their values while claiming of “doing the right thing naturally“.
In the service industry, people serve people, but they are not their servants.
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