a masterpiece to see, review and reread

ART – MONDAY, JULY 4 AT 8:50 p.m. – CINEMA

See again The Finzi-Contini Garden (1970) is to plunge into an endless reflection on the limits of the film adaptation of a masterpiece of world literature. Or two indisputable geniuses: Giorgio Bassani (1916-2000), equivalent to a transalpine Proust; and Vittorio De Sica (1901-1974), who won the Golden Bear in Berlin and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1971 with this film.

What link can there be between the trembling and misty universe of Bassani, entirely focused on the small Jewish community of Ferrara, in northern Italy, and that, further south, of a director who has become a singer of Neapolitan identity?

The writer felt betrayed, although he himself asked the director and participated in writing the script. It tells the story of the inexorable confinement of a Jewish family that, just as the racial laws were promulgated in 1938 by Benito Mussolini, almost voluntarily cloisters themselves in their large property, reinventing the ghetto, accepting the end that tragedy awaits.

few tones

Characters were standardized around a few character traits, presumably to improve narrative efficiency. Micol (Dominique Sanda) seems to give up love out of stubbornness, when she is the cause of her awareness of her future destiny; pale and feverish, Alberto (Helmut Berger), her brother, seems to be rehearsing future scenes from the Luis (1973), by Luchino Visconti. Malnate (Fabio Testi) is not too manly, although he plays a proud communist militant? Finally, Giorgio (Lino Capolicchio) is, on the contrary, a bit boring.

The tennis matches, which bring together young people from the Jewish community excluded from their club, as well as their friends, on the Finzi-Contini property, are filmed, according to the critics of the World December 1971, “with the monotony of a sports report”. Let’s just say none of the actors know how to hold a racket, whereas Bassani was a skilled player…

Ferrara, a city surrounded by its walls, is hardly visible, while it is the essential element of Bassani’s work (which he will call part of his work The Roman of Ferrara). “The Garden Betrayed”he struck down the writer, in a scathing article, furious at what he considered betrayals.

Half a century later, the film has lost none of its flaws. It probably lacks length and languor. An hour and a half is not enough to express the nuances, to make a setting and characters exist until they disappear. But these failures have the immense advantage of encouraging the (re)reading of a secret and powerful work of fiction, shocking and diaphanous, where the memory of reality is worth more than reality itself.

The Finzi-Contini Garden, by Vittorio De Sica (It.-Germany, 1970, 90 min). With Dominique Sanda, Helmut Berger, Lino Capolicchio. On Arte.tv until August 2. document tracking In search of the Finzi-Contini gardenat 22:25

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