The Finzi Contini are among the old-established and most cultivated families in Ferrara, firmly rooted in tradition and part of the city's Jewish intelligentsia. In the years leading up to World War II, the Finzi Contini are caught up in the politics of racial discrimination. There are growing signs of a barbaric revolution. It is against this socio-political and human background that the story of Micol Finzi and her brother, Alberto, is told. Micol is a sensitive young woman who instinctively foresees the impending catastrophe. With an intensity bred by despair, she spends the remaining years of youth searching for love. She suppresses within herself the rules of a conventional morality that has been implanted by a strict upbringing. Consequently, Micol is torn apart by the divergent feelings she experiences for the three men in her life: David, a childhood friend, is weak, unable to face the demands of the age and to defy fate. Malnate is more of a friend by chance: he is the masculine, impulsive type, capable of powerful reactions, and destined to decisively influence the course of her life. And, finally, there is Alberto whom she loves tenderly. Towards her brother, she is cold. Alberto will die. The city of Ferrara in the 1930s forms the backdrop to this fresco of a society on the brink of destruction.
Translated from: Festival-Programmblatt der 21. Internationalen Filmfestspiele Berlin 1971
by Vittorio De Sica
with Lino Capolicchio, Dominique Sanda, Helmut Berger
Italy / Germany (Federal Republic from 1949) 1970
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