The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini) (1970)
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This moving film focuses on an aristocratic Jewish family living in Italy during World War II who don't comprehend the threat of the Nazis until its too late. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and boasts terrific performances by Helmut Berger and Dominique Sanda.
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Critic Reviews for The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini)
For its story moment before the gathering storm broke, this film is a garden wall held up, a finger in the dyke, just before the deluge and fall into darkness.
Splendidly recreated, Vittorio De Sica's elegantly painful and eloquently tragic tribute to the demise of the Jewish aristocracy in Italy in WWII deservedly won the best foreign-language Oscar in 1971.
Audience Reviews for The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini)
There's so much going on in this film, from the symbolism of the garden to the relationship between Micol and Giorgio. It definitely deserves more than one viewing and just goes to demonstrate how great Italian cinema is.More
Each country has their WWII legacy, but the Italian auteurs transform their collective experience into cinematic political testaments. In the Finzi-Contini passover scene, Alberto's presentiment about the war is that the 'good' side will win. The irony, reality, and horror is that any faction, be it Fascism, Nazism, Communism, faithfully believes it is fighting for the 'good.' Giorgio's father also says that we all die at least once; it's better to do so when you are young, so you can rebuild, recreate. Powerful messages with profound implications.More
The garden is IDYLLIC. Giorgio (Capolicchio) is from a middle class Jewish Italian family. He has the pleasure of spending some leisurely time inside the gates of an upper class Jewish family's property. Micol (Sanda) and Alberto (Berger) Finzi Contini, sister and brother, play tennis, ride bikes and talk about politics with their young friends. Bruno (Testi) is also there though he is not Jewish. It is the late 1930's. Giorgio observes as Italian laws in his town begin restricting the rights of Jews. His father (Valli) doesn't think that the Fascists in Italy will let the treatment of the Jews get as bad as the Nazis in Germany have. But Giorgio sees things spiraling out of control, the situation getting ready to fall like the seasonal fall leaves captured in the opening credits. Giorgio and his younger brother may not be able to finish their college education. Meanwhile Alberto gets sick with pneumonia, or is it some other mysterious disease. Micol flirts with and teases Giorgio and Bruno. Giorgio falls in love, but Micol keeps him at a distance. Perhaps it is their class difference or the fact that because the Finzi-Continis have lived such a privileged life they hardly consider themselves Jewish anymore. Maybe Micol's attraction to Bruno is an effort to blend in with the Aryan, non-Jewish, population. Sadly, very few escape history.
The movie starts with lots of sunshine and the pristine white preppy clothes of the young adults as well as the spotless condition of the interior of the Finzi-Contini mansion. By the end we see many more drab grays. Yet the movie keeps reminding the audience to look up toward the tree tops and the sun in hope.
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini) Quotes
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