The Garden of the Finzi-continis

Vittorio De Sica’s devastating Oscar-winning drama The Garden of the Finzi-Continis isn’t in the same league as his earlier neorealist masterpieces The Bicycle Thief and Umberto D — but then, how many films are? Set in Ferrara, Italy, on the eve of World War II, it’s a tenderly brutal elegy about hubris and fascism; the fascism, of course, is courtesy of Il Duce, while the hubris is displayed by aristocratic Italian Jews who mistakenly think themselves secure from persecution because of their social status. Restored for a brief theatrical revival last fall, its mournful golden-hued palette looks almost as ravishing on home video as it did on the screen, although De Sica’s careful compositions have been diminished by the usual video cropping. A-

The Garden of the Finzi-continis
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