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Gian Maria Volonté,
In the late 1930s, in Ferrara, Italy, the Finzi-Contini are one of the leading families, wealthy, aristocratic, urbane; they are also Jewish. Their adult children, Micol and Alberto, gather a circle of friends for constant rounds of tennis and parties at their villa with its lovely grounds, keeping the rest of the world at bay. Into the circle steps Giorgio, a Jew from the middle class who falls in love with Micol. She seems to toy with him, and even makes love to one of his friends while she knows Giorgio is watching. While his love cannot seem to break through to her to draw her out of her garden idyll, the forces of politics close in. Written by
The Finzi-Continis are a wealthy and privileged Italian family. It is shortly before WWII, a time when the Fascists are slowly taking away the rights and livelihoods of Jews, including the Finzi-Continis.
But none of this seems to pass the walls of their magnificent garden, where the children Micol and Alberto often invite their friends. One of their friends, Georgio, is hopelessly in love with the beautiful Micol. The way this film evokes such youthful, quixotic yearning, or a woman's growing awareness of physical beauty's power, is splendid.
The sadness I felt at the end came from knowing all along what would happen to all of them, rich and not-so-rich, and that they didn't recognize what lay in store for them until it was too late. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis was Vittorio De Sica's last hurrah, a masterpiece of neorealism, and timeless evocation of a time lost.
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