The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970) | Vittorio De Sica’s autumnal masterpiece is ripe for reappraisal
Vittorio De Sica’s 1970 masterpiece, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, has long been out of distribution, but received a well-deserved restoration in 2011 which screens today at London’s BFI Southbank, as part of the Vittorio De Sica season.
As war breaks out, an aristocratic Jewish family (the Finzi-Contini) feels safe behind the walls of their grand estate as Fascism grips the country.
Living in a state a denial, Micòl (The Conformist’s Dominique Sanda) and her sickly brother Alberto (Helmut Berger, in his second film) carry on holding tennis games and summer parties with their friends, including Giorgio (who holds a torch for Micòl) and Bruno (a gentile with socialist sympathies).
But when the reality of Mussolini’s anti-Semitic restrictions finally hits home, the wealth, privilege and social position of the Finzi-Continis counts for nothing under the new world order. And when Italian soldiers rounding up the city’s Jewish population arrest them, the Finzi-Continis must then await their fate (deportation to a concentration camp) in a former classroom.
Drawing on Giorgio Bassani’s celebrated novel, De Sica spent a decade adapting it for the screen and scored the Oscar for Best Foreign Film for his efforts, and it certainly deserves reappraisal. With its stirring story, stunning setting, sumptuous visuals, majestic score and chilling final scene, De Sica’s autumnal film still retains all of its power to strike at the heart.
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is also available on DVD in the UK from Arrow Academy, featuring the new transfer plus, as special features, interviews with actress Lino Capolicchio, screenwriter Ugo Pirro and composer Manuel De Sica, plus trailer and booklet.
Posted on August 27, 2015, in Classic World Cinema, Must See, Must-See, World Cinema and tagged 1970s Italian drama, Anti-semitism, Classic World Cinema, Giorgio Bassani, Italian, Mussolini, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, World Cinema. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.