The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini) (1970) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini) (1970)

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini)




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Movie Info

Vittorio De Sica directs the lyrical war drama Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis), based on a book by Giorgio Bassani. In Ferrara, Italy, at the beginning of WWII, anti-Semitism is spreading. Mussolini has passed several laws that forbid Jews from going to public schools, joining the army, or marrying non-Jews. While many middle-class Jewish families flee the country, the Finzi-Continis believe it's safe inside their sprawling estate. As a wealthy, aristocratic Jewish family, they think their luxurious garden walls will protect them from fascism. Micol Finzi Contini (Dominique Sanda) and her brother (Helmut Berger) invite their Jewish friends to join them in the estate for parties, tennis, and games while the war ravages on. Middle-class Jew Giorgio (Lino Capolicchio) attends the parties with his friend Malnate (Fabio Testi). Giorgio and Micol are childhood sweethearts, but she begins to reject him in favor of Malnate. She also refuses to accept that there's a war going on. Eventually they can pretend no longer, and the war closes in on them. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1971.more
Rating: R
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Vittorio Bonicelli, Ugo Pirro, Vittori Bonicelli, Cesare Zavattini, Valerio Zurlini
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 19, 2001
Titanus Produzione


Fabio Testi
as Malnate
Romolo Valli
as Giorgio's Father
Inna Alexeiff
as Micol's Grandmother
Katina Viglietti
as Micol's Mother
Barbara Pilavin Gelb...
as Giorgio's Mother
Katina Morisani
as Micol's Mother
Cinzia Bruno
as Young Micol
Camillo Cesarei
as Micol's Father
Alessandro D'Alatri
as Young Giorgio
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini)

Critic Reviews for The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini)

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (7)

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Detroit News
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 2, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

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.

Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

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.

Stefanie C

Super Reviewer

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.

Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

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