Roberto Benigni, Convocation 2015 Honorary Degree recipient

Thank you so much my friend. I mean it. It’s
unbelievable to be here. What an emotion. My body is in tumult. I am really up and down
everything is higgity/piggity. I am completely discombobulated, jet lag, but really happy
to be here together. Very happy. Very, very happy. Thank you. Thank you. The ceremony looks to me like a wedding. Yes,
to sign…we have to yes and like I get married again. We can never honeymoon in Niagara Falls
tonight. It would be wonderful. The President Gertler as the Pope. Like a wedding – a marriage.
Really you are so lucky so start in this wonderful university, so prestigious. My God – a Doctor
in a Toronto university. I am a Doctor. When I will be back in Italy, I am a Doctor in
the Toronto university, the largest department Italian artists in the world, one of the most
prestigious universities in the world. Oh my God. Now I forgot my speech. I am really excited, full of joy, full of
gratitude to everybody. I envy you that you are starting here in this wonderful university.
I am full of joy like a watermelon. Incredible, incredible to be here. I told yesterday but
I repeat, this is one of the occasions where I would like to be a dog, a little dog to
have a tail wagging in order to show you how happy I am. I would jump in the arms of everybody
and licking everyone, like a little dog, like a little dog. Thank you, thank you very much
from the bottom of my heart. Merci beaucoup avec to ____, monsieur’s and madams, ladies
and gentleman, and I would like to thank of course President Gertler, thank you very much,
and Vice President Saimin and all of the Governing Council of the university and Professor Literie
for his wonderful speech about me, thank you very much. Thank you very much. And you my fellow, my friend, my brother and
sister, my everything – I would thank also the trade, the furniture, the wall – everything
– thank you, thank you, really a thousand times. Now, the Class of 2015 is the strongest class
– congratulations to everybody. A wonderful day, a great day for you, for us. We are graduates
now together. My God. I have been told what I have to talk about and I have been told…Michael
Literie told me you can give some advice. Some advice, me to the graduates. So now you
will really forgive me my boldness, my audacity, my shamelessness. I can you only about language
– you can hear my language. So for instance I could talk to you today about the importance
of words. This is very important. Like the poet Joseph Brosky said – I’m quoting him
about the importance of words “of being exact in your language. Try to treat your vocabulary
in the same way as you do your bank account. Pay attention to it, increase your revenue.
Not in order to be showing off your speech in high society but in order to express yourself
in a complete and precise way.” In the end the goal is your own equilibrium and health.
That is because the accumulation of things that one can express correctly will bring
ill health. Believe me, every day a lot of things happen in our minds but our vocabulary
stays the same. And this is really very, very bad. Feelings, nuances, deep thoughts, perceptions
that remain unnamed and frustrated, all accumulate are repressed and then lead to an explosion
of violence. This is the reason of violence in the world. They are not exact with the
words. They don’t talk, they don’t have words. So read the poetry, please, read the poetry
and dictionary every day. It costs less than a visit to the Psychoanalyst, believe me.
Don’t hide in the comfort of your beliefs. I would advise you to do the opposite. The
more skeptical, dubious, intellectually insecure you are the better it is for you. Remember
this, remember – don’t wait for the world to take of you, take care of the world yourself,
at least for the part that you are able to. Don’t show off too much. Be modest. There
is always something unpleasant about living a more advantaged lifestyle than others. Respect
life not only for its good side but also for its difficult times. The good thing about
sorrow is that it never lies. Ever. Every time you feel on edge, on the verge of desperation,
or in the abyss of despair, remember life is talking to you in the only language it
is capable of, sincerity. Listen to it in this moment. Don’t be frightened of life.
Don’t flee from it. As the poet Robert Frost said ” the best way out is always true.” Be in silence alone with yourself. The more
you can. We are always connected, connected with everybody but disconnected with ourselves.
Think about your soul not only about your body. We have raced so fast with our body
that our soul has been desensitized. It is behind our soul and it is gasping – the body
is running too much and our soul is really behind gasping, asking for information “have
you see a body?” We are going to lose our soul. We have already lost it, we must be
careful. And remember that everyone brings his own contribution, invisible but yet concrete,
towards good or evil. Identifying and fighting evil is the start of every happiness. Be happy,
be joyful. The sadder you are the more vicious you are. Remember. So really be happy and
dream. Dream of course, but be aware that the best way to make your dreams come true
is by waking up. And respect the mystery of life. We don’t know anything. We don’t know.
Life really is a mystery. The Italian philosopher Nicolo Machiavelli said “you can learn what
you want, everything, but it’s a mystery.” The Italian philosopher Machiavelli said “there
are people who know everything and that’s all they know.” Because life is a mystery.
We don’t know respect. Life is so much more than that which we can understand. For this
it resists. Remember that that word is not the conclusion as the poet Emily Dickinson
said, remember. And fall in love. Fall in love. If you don’t
fall in love everything is dead. Fall in love and everything will be alive. Fall in love
now, now. Because we love always too little and too late. Fall in love now. Don’t be afraid
to love because it doesn’t exist wasted love. Because at the sunset of life we will be judged
on love. Because a _______[00:10:02] of creation is love and because love corresponds with
the significance of all things. Happiness. With regards to happiness, search
for it every day, continuously. Don’t forget anyone who is listening to me now must begin
to search for happiness now, because it’s there. You have it. Look all over for it.
In your closets or shelves, in the cubbyholes of your soul. Throw everything in the air,
the drawers…you will see that it will come out. Happiness is there. It was given to all
of us. We must always think about happiness. And even if she forgets sometimes about us,
we must never forget about her until the final day of our life. And so be happy and love. And with regards to love, I would like to
finish my speech with a sonnet by Dante Alighieri about love and I choose this sonnet ______
– it’s a love song because Dante Alighieri – the greatest poet in the world no doubts
about this…Dante Alighieri is something that we cannot….Dante was able to find words,
remember for inarticulate, to capture those feelings which people can hardly even feel
because we have no words for them. Do you know we have a lot of sentiment inside the
feelings but we don’t have words, poetry does this – call this, give names. So we alive,
we are human beings. For poetry, and Dante did this. He invented the 99 times a new word.
For example, restlessness – if a poet doesn’t invent this word, who knows when I am like
this what I am, I don’t know. So remember that imagine people comprehend
the incomprehensible demands immense resources of language and reaching the meaning of words
and enchantment – because without enchantment the rest is useless. Now I will read you this sonnet of Dante.
I will recite it in Italian. Dante wrote this sonnet about your age, he was about 22-23
years. So perfect this sonnet that it appeared was inevitable. It’s really an audacious beauty,
a standpoint of beauty. Every single line of Dante, every single triplet of Dante is
something unforgettable, unattainable, unequalled. And this sonnet…he was really very young,
he was your age and he was in love. He was in love. Remember to be in love always. It
was dedicated to the woman who he was in love with, Beatrice Portinari, the most exalted
woman loved by a man, believe me. The sonnet talked about love and you can hear this in
Italian. You can hear the rhythm and the music, I hope, and the mystery of poetry and the
mystery of life and of love. [speaks in Italian] Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare
la donna mia quand’ella altrui saluta, ch’ogne lingua devèn tremando muta,
e li occhi no l’ardiscon di guardare. Ella si va, sentendosi laudare,
benignamente d’umilta vestuta; e par che sia una cosa venuta
da cielo in terra a miracol mostrare. Mostrasi sì piacente a chi la mira,
che da per li occhi una dolcezza al core che ‘ntender no la puo chi no la prova: e par che de la sua labbia si mova
un spirito soave pien d’amore, che va dicendo a l’anima: Sospira. Translation: So gentle and so dignified she appears So gentle and so dignified appears
my lady when she greets others, that every trembling tongue becomes dumb,
and their eyes do not dare look upon her. She walks on, hearing herself praised,
benignly clothed in humility; and seems to be something arrived
from Heaven as a miracle on Earth. She appears so pleasant to those who looks
upon her, and through her eyes a sweetness touches the
heart, which cannot be understood by those who feel
it not: and it seems that from her lips emanates
a delicate spirit full of love, that speaks to the soul: Sigh.


  1. Please forgive me for the translation but i've tried to translate at the best:
    "So gently and so honest looks my lady, when she greets someone, that every tongue became, trembling, mute and the eyes don’t have the bravery to watch.
    She goes, earing herself laud, benign wearing modesty and she seems come from heaven to Earth for doing a miracle.
    She shows oneself so wonderful to those who are watching at her that from her eyes transmit sweetness to the heart, that who doesn’t prove it can’t understand it;
    And it seems that from her physiognomy overcomes a sweet spirit full of love who say to soul: SIGH"

  2. Most amazing & lively speech I have ever seen !!! And Roberto Benigni is one of the most positive men on the earth !!! No doubts…

  3. "My body is in tumult!" reminds me of his wild but groundbreaking Oscar moment! And he speaks French. Il est génial 💡

  4. I'm italian and I'm too much proud of Benigni. He is like you see him, trust me. He always laughs, does not take life too seriously. This is what he taught me

  5. What an honour to graduate as part of this ceremony. One of the best commencement speeches at U of T in a long time!

  6. da "berlinguer ti voglio bene" a bacia renzi….rispetto solo la sua immensa cultura, per il resto…

  7. I dont like when we have to insist in being clowns …
    it is how we are supposed to be appreciated ?
    I dont think Marconi would have sung tarantella or jumped on the table if he would have received a doctorate from an university, even if he was italian too…

  8. Benigni è una persona assolutamente spregevole che ha venduto l'anima per i soldi e per il potere. Ed è anche un ladro intellettuale perché non ha nemmeno scritto "La Vita è Bella", l'idea l'ha rubata al regista Rumeno Radu Mihaileanu (Mihaileanu aveva mandato a Benigni la sceneggiatura del suo film, "Train de vie", chiedendogli di fare il protagonista. Benigni finse di non essere interessato, solo per correre di nascosto a scrivere il "suo" film con il quale poi vinse gli oscar).

  9. benigni is my best italian actor life is beautiful is such amazing movie.i m italian. ciao Roberto orgoglio italiano. good man

  10. is it normal to cry when hearing Dante's "Tanto gentile e tant'onesta pare", or am i just being a big batty boy? 😀

  11. how much does his tone changes when he starts reciting the poem. that's really something.He has such profound soul and culture. Reminds me of professor Keating from Dead Poets society

  12. Roberto Benigni talking in English just sounds like… Italian but the words are replaced with English ones, i haven't seen a footage of someone more Italian than this

  13. 10:02 sorry he meant "creation is a cauldron of love". Will get what you say you no matter what you say bob, you are awesome

  14. I love this guy and his natural way of being! I watched him in lots of movies and in real life, participating into various TV shows etc… He was behaving the same everywhere. I think that he is a pure demonstration that the art is above everything! Greetings from Romania!

  15. I cant believe he was in Toronto! He defined poetry like a champion. He is the proof that the lack of words doesn't mean you cant get your message across. He doesn't speak English well but I got his passion, his joy for life, his unapologetic love giving, to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Love is all you need. This is a man with courage! A revolutionary man in the 21st century is the one who goes out and loves without shame. This is what Benigni does. Notice how he recite the poem, as if he was somebody else, maybe Dante himself, as if he transformed in another person, far from the laughing man he is. So serious, so deep, exact in his words. Oh the importance of your first language in moments like this! Nice poetry recital! He is so brave, I dont think I could do the same. I am too scared of everyone and everywhere. Saddly…

  16. Italians versus Italians in the diaspora is night and day. As an Italian American I say this ☺️☺️

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