Hui216 Italian Civilization Andrea Fedi

Like these strongmen from the 1920s, Mussolini was part of an ongoing serial of movie appearances to which were attached such epitaphs as Mussolini-aviator, Mussolini at the thresher, Mussolini-athlet

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Like these strongmen from the 1920s, Mussolini was part of an ongoing serial of movie appearances to which were attached such epitaphs as Mussolini-aviator, Mussolini at the thresher, Mussolini-athlete, and so forth

  • One of Mussolini's most common personae in the newsreels and documentaries was that of the warrior

  • During the late 1920s and the 1930s, Mussolini appears in a variety of military uniforms

  • It is no coincidence either that Mussolini consciously associated himself with other warriors from Italian films of the mid-1930s, visiting the set of Scipione and lauding the spirit of Trenker's Condottieri

    5.6 Mussolini and the Greco-Roman movie heroes

    1. In "Il Duce trebbia il grano nell'Agro Pontino" ("The Duce Threshes Wheat in the Pontine Fields," 1938) Mussolini appears bare-chested (itself a sign or a persona), inspiring his in-film audience of peasant workers with his prodigious display of strength and endurance, and demonstrating the "progress" of efforts to revitalize what was once a marshland

    2. The narrator all the while explains

    3. "The Duce threshes without even the slightest signs of tiring. . . . It seems that work gives him greater vigor."

    4. It is this documentary that, as a number of Italian film historians have noted, aligns his role here with that of Scipione at the end of Scipione l'Africano

    5.7 The plot of Scipione l'africano (from the notes of Regina Marcazzò-Skarka)

    1. Scipione l'africano is a long film with scenes that abruptly change from the Carthaginians to the Romans.

    2. Sometimes it may seem difficult to tell who is who. One clear distinction is the more elegant stance and demeanor of the Romans.

    3. The film begins showing text with an historical explanation of the two enemies attempting to be the rulers of the Mediterranean, Rome and Carthage. It explains how Carthage is winning with Hannibal's success at entering Rome's territory. The written introduction ends telling how 20,000 Roman soldiers were killed.

    4. (In the credits in the beginning it is stated that soldiers of the Italian army were used as extras in the film.)

    5. The first scene begins with the fasces raised high into the sky, and the clouds as a backdrop.

    5.7 The plot of Scipione l'africano

    1. Members of the Roman Senate talk about Scipio, and how he wants to meet with them. He plans to bring the war to Africa. The senators are skeptical.

    2. Then a man hints jovially that it would be good to send Hannibal out of Italy. His comments are met with unanimous cheers and hands raised in the air. The cheering continues with arms raised when Scipione appears and walks down steps with the crowds making room for him. The procession lasts about a minute with dramatic music.

    3. One soldier tries desperately to get through the crowd to get a glimpse of Scipio, saying, "I followed him through the war in Spain, at the very least I should get to look at him."

    5.7 The plot of Scipione l'africano

    1. Then there's a dramatic scene with Scipio trying to convince the Senate to fight Hannibal in Africa. He tells them that Rome has to be free of him for once and for all, and that the only way to accomplish the victory would be to bring the Roman army to Africa.

    2. Someone expresses a concern that if the army goes to Africa to fight, there will be no one left to protect Rome.

    3. If the senators don't agree with Scipio, will he take it to the people? Scipio responds that he will do whatever he has to for Italy. Lots of arguing takes place and eventually many are yelling "Carthage! Carthage!"

    4. He walks surrounded by soldiers holding fasces and to cheers of thousands yelling "Scipione! Scipione!" There's a long scene with crowds of thousands with their hands raised like he is a God, and the music in the background is celebratory.

    5.7 The plot of Scipione l'africano

    1. Then there's a surreal scene with Scipio with a woman and a baby, then a young boy. It's a scene of the perfect loving family: Scipione is dressed aristocratically and looking ready for battle, while his son puts on a special hat, trying to look like his dad.

    2. Next there's a scene with Hannibal and his people looking simple, low class and gruff.

    3. The Carthaginian soldiers leave their camp running haphazardly. Someone tells Hannibal about Scipio's plans.

    4. In the next scene the Carthagian soldiers come along grabbing women and terrorizing them, ripping their clothing and groping at their breasts. A little boy sits crying by a large column.

    5.7 The plot of Scipione l'africano

    1. Next there is Scipio talking to his soldiers, then the soldiers marching and peasants running to see with excitement. Fasces are held high and people walk forward in slow motion looking proud at them. Scipio speaks of a real "patria" asking who will follow. Scores run forward trying to grab hold of one fascis.

    2. Then there's a scene where a woman is brought to Hannibal. She tells him how she heard he wanted children and she tells him she's not afraid. He grabs her and starts kissing her then the scene abruptly changes to the Romans boarding the ships to go to Africa. There's a wonderful send off with right hands raised and music.

    5.7 The plot of Scipione l'africano

    1. There are a number of scenes with meetings of both the Romans and Carthaginians. There's also a jovial scene of Roman soldiers singing and cooking outside. There's a scene with Scipio then Hannibal talking to their own about strategy.

    2. Scipio and Hannibal meet on horseback but peace is not the choice of Scipio: he chooses to fight. He turns down Hannibal's proposal for peace and tells him to prepare for war, then scores of fasces are raised with dramatic music.

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