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The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970)

Il giardino dei Finzi Contini (original title)
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The story of the Finzi-Continis, a noble family of Ferrara, during the Jewish persecution in Italy's 1930s.

Director:

Vittorio De Sica
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lino Capolicchio ... Giorgio
Dominique Sanda ... Micòl Finzi Contini
Fabio Testi ... Giampiero Malnate
Romolo Valli ... Giorgio's Father
Helmut Berger ... Alberto
Camillo Cesarei Camillo Cesarei ... Micol's Father
Inna Alexeievna Inna Alexeievna ... Regina Artom - Micol's Grandmother (as Inna Alexeieff)
Katina Morisani Katina Morisani ... Micol's Mother
Barbara Pilavin ... Giorgio's Mother (as Barbara Leonard Pilavin)
Michael Berger Michael Berger
Ettore Geri Ettore Geri
Raffaele Curi Raffaele Curi ... Ernesto
Gianpaolo Duregon Gianpaolo Duregon
Marcella Gentile Marcella Gentile
Cinzia Bruno Cinzia Bruno ... Young Micol
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Storyline

Mussolini's Italy, late 1930s: the Finzi-Contini are one of the leading wealthy Jewish families. Their adult children gather friends for tennis and parties at their lovely grounds, with the rest of the world at bay, while politics close in. Written by OJT

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Finzi-Continis were Italians living in Ferrara, Italy in 1938. They were rich, beautiful, unapproachable and Jewish. They lived in a walled dream world until they were forced to open the gates.

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Sony Pictures Classics

Country:

Italy | West Germany

Language:

Italian

Release Date:

16 December 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$112,105, 24 November 1996

Gross USA:

$596,694
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Nine people, including the original novel's author, worked on the screenplay (including Vittorio De Sica and Franco Brussati) but only two men, Ugo Pirro and Vittorio Bonicelli, were allowed to take credit and be nominated for the Oscar for Best Screenplay Based On Material From Another Medium. See more »

Quotes

Micol: You and I are not normal people. For the two of us, what counts more than the possession of things - how shall I put it - is the remembrance of things, the memory of things.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Vivere
Written by Cesare A. Bixio (uncredited)
Performed by Tito Schipa
Per concessione della EMI Italiana S.p.A.
See more »

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User Reviews

Reversed
2 February 2005 | by tedgSee all my reviews

De Sica is celebrated as the man who brought "neo-realism" to film, one of the three or four philosophies that still vie as motivation for the film enterprise. It is the notion that though film necessarily artificializes, it is possible to start with truth and deliberately enhance it cinematic ally. Because he relied on class struggle, viewers mistakenly associate that with the essence of neo-realism.

His early work is much celebrated, but as he aged and added layers and nuance, his relatively simpleminded audience was lost. Here we have a later masterpiece, not generally regarded as such.

The basic story is of two Jewish families, the impeding brutality of fellow Italians and different approaches to life and love in the knowing face of doom. At that level, it has some charm and power.

But what he has done is to invert all the values and superimpose them on the originals. Its a common technique in writing, and found of course in the novel.

We have the obvious: a relatively small garden within which the inhabitants blithely create an artificial world while the real world grinds down upon them. The garden is in Europe, but it is also Europe.

As I say, That's obvious. Also common (far too common) is the placement of sexual mechanics in political mechanics as if one explains the other while they cause each other. Ho Hum.

But there are three other elements, and these I appreciate. While he is reversing things and overlaying them, he casts accordingly. The European fiction was that Jews were dark, earthy people. Hairy, monetary, shrewd, animal. Yet the actors who play the Jews are according to cinematic conventions of Aryans: light haired, light skinned, svelte. Their manner is similarly cinematic (and the Nazi/fascist movement was inherently cinematic): completely unconcerned about money and politics and instead concerned about poetry and idleness. Roles reversed: we know this for certain when the (Jewish) girl tells her (non-Jewish) suitor he is not her type; too communist and too hairy.

There's another, explicit inversion: the thing is a movie, but the anchor of reality within it is, well, movies. Three times. Plus our hero goes from Passover at his house where the family is singing something vapid to the Finzi-Continis where they are doing something movie-like" looking into a glass to see the future.

Third: we know this is not straight-on narrative, because the camera has a habit of drifting out of the narrative frame. Kar-Wai is the current master of this and for the same reason.

Naturally, underlying it all is that this is not the work of fascists or Nazis, but of Italians and Germans. Not few, but many, essentially all. Because of that one thing, I find this more powerful than "Schindler's List." Sure, his people were more demonstrably evil, but so are all his villains in his fakey worlds. It doesn't make it real if he shows real history in the same theatrical way. No, for real evil we have to see how ordinary it is.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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