Posts Tagged ‘Mussolini’

Life before Fascism: Mussolini in wartime Milan

21 May 2010

Contributed by Niamh Cullen

Currently showing in the IFI and Lighthouse cinemas in Dublin, Vincere (meaning ‘win’), seems like a fitting title for a film about Mussolini’s younger days and his rise to power. Told from the perspective of his then mistress and fellow revolutionary Ida Dalser, the film follows his early career as editor of the socialist newspaper Avanti! in the heady atmosphere of turn of the century Milan. A leading member of the young, revolutionary contingent of the socialist party, the young Benito broke with the party’s pacifist stance in 1914 and rushed to support the war. In his eyes, war was the perfect opportunity for Italy; a chance to bring about excitement, revolution and national glory. According to the film, it was the ever admiring Ida who sold her draper’s shop to give Mussolini the capital to start his own newspaper, Il Popolo d’Italia. It was through this new daily that he began to build up the mass following that, with the help of his Blackshirt militia, would propel him to power in 1922. Soon afterwards, Ida and Benito’s paths separated. After the war, having abandoned his revolutionary lifestyle for the respectable image necessary for his political career, Mussolini returned to his wife Donna Rachele. Left alone with their child, and convinced she was actually his rightful wife, Ida was unable to forget Mussolini as easily as he had cast her aside. The film follows their troubled lives against the background of the continued rise of fascism. Mussolini and fascism are only present in distant glimpses from then on – in statues, newspapers and newsreel footage – but even as the figure she sees from afar develops into the remote, imperious and even faintly ridiculous character of the dictator familiar to us from history, his presence continues to haunt Ida.

Stylishly edited, with original newsreel footage from the archive of the fascist film board – the Istituto Luce – interspersed throughout the film, Vincere offers a fascinating portrait of life in wartime and fascist Italy. Read more