Review: ‘Il Giardino Dei Finzi-Contini’

This Vittorio De Sica picture is stamped with the trademark of a master of the cinema. His pauses, as much as his actions; the leeway he gives to Ennio Guarnieri's superb camera; the self-confidence with which he develops a somewhat lazy story; his disdain for such b.o. sureties as violence and nudity, all point to the good taste and sure hand of a very mature director.

This Vittorio De Sica picture is stamped with the trademark of a master of the cinema. His pauses, as much as his actions; the leeway he gives to Ennio Guarnieri’s superb camera; the self-confidence with which he develops a somewhat lazy story; his disdain for such b.o. sureties as violence and nudity, all point to the good taste and sure hand of a very mature director.

The story [from the novel by Giorgio Bassani] is built on several layers of a time-pyramid, with a base in the ominous quiet prior to World War II and the pinnacle in the deportation to the Nazi death camps of all the protagonists by the year 1943.

On top stands a Jewish family, the Finzi-Continis, immensely rich, cultured, aristocratic, in the beautiful and deceptively quiet Italian town, Ferrara. They hope, in vain, that the vulgarity of fascism will not penetrate into their ivory world. A middle-class Jewish family in the same town tries to beat the enemy by joining him.

Close to the top of the pyramid is the love story between Micol (Dominique Sanda), the daughter of the Finzi-Continis, and Giorgio (Lino Capolicchio), son of the bourgeois Jews. Micol chooses – for a purely physical affair – a virile communist, Malnate (Fabio Testi), the antithesis of everything which she was brought up with.

De Sica’s son Manuel has written a traditional but powerful musical score and the photography, most of it done in Ferrara, is outstanding. The screenplay is well-motivated, sensitive and slow, the dialog terse and sparse and therefore telling.

1971: Best Foriegn Language Film

Il Giardino Dei Finzi-Contini

Italy - W. Germany

Production

Documento/CCC Filmkunst. Director Vittorio De Sica; Producer Gianni Hecht Lucari, Arthur Cohn; Screenplay Cesare Zavattini, Vittorio Bonicelli, Ugo Pirro, [Giorgio Bassani]; Camera Ennio Guarnieri; Editor Adriana Novelli; Music Manuel De Sica; Art Director Giancarlo Bartolini Salimbeni, Maurizio Chiari

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1971. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Dominique Sanda Lino Capolicchio Helmut Berger Fabio Testi Romolo Valli Camillo Cesarei
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 1

Leave a Reply

1 Comment

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Michael Kraft says:

    It should be noted that the Micol’s “affair” with Malnate was a conceit of the director. In the book it was just a passing reverie by Giorgio that he eventually acknowledges as chimerical. The actual narrative includes no “affair” or even any suggestion of an attraction by Micol to Malnate.

    That alteration, along with others, may very well have been one of the reasons that Bassani (the book’s author) was not particularly pleased with the film version, in spite of its critical acclaim.

    Even in the movie, the interlude between Micol and Malnate was hardly the focus of the film, in contrast to what the above review suggests.

More Film News from Variety

Loading