Illusions of gardens, conformity and beauty : performing normality in three Italian Holocaust films / Jeremy Maron.
This thesis examines three Italian films, focusing on how the films represent Italian life at the time of the Holocaust, and how these representations reflect shifts in understanding regarding the experience of the Holocaust in Italy. Chapter One explores how the political environment for the Jewish characters in Vittorio De Sica's The Garden of the Finzi-Continis disposes them to perform their daily lives as normally as possible while anti-Semitic legislation deteriorates their rights as Italian citizens. Chapter Two examines Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist in terms of a split between the surface illusion of normality, manifest in the film's polished aesthetics and the calm veneer of its protagonist, and the volatile reality lurking beneath. Chapter Three examines how Roberto Benigni's Life is Beautiful makes explicit what had been left implicit in the previous two films: i.e., that official accounts of the Italian experience of the Holocaust have promoted as fact what is best seen as a fable.
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