Marco Bellocchio • Director
by Camillo de Marco
19/05/2009 - With Vincere [trailer, film focus], it’s Marco Bellocchio’s sixth time around at the Cannes Film Festival, and he meets the Italian press the day after the official screening of the film, which opens today in Italy on 300 screens, distributed by 01 Distribution.
Just a few minutes ago, at the press conference, the filmmaker has come up with the term “a Futurist melodrama” to describe his film about the secret marriage between Benito Mussolini and Ida Dalser. “These are the two apparently contradictory forces”, Bellocchio explains, “that characterise time in the film. When the young Mussolini turns into a dictator, in the film’s second half, we abandon Futurism and move into a melodramatic repertoire. Melodrama, in fact, is part of an Italian cultural tradition, and it has been unfairly neglected and derided for years. Futurism, on the other hand, which made the mistake of entering into an alliance with Fascism, which bankrupted it, actually produced marvellous works, mainly in the figurative arts, by Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, and Carlo Carrà, among others.
You used Futurism’s images and iconography as well as sequences from period documentaries like Corrado D’Errico’s Stramilano.
I was aiming at a fusion between stock footage and new images that would define a new style. Including the risky decision, which I do not regret, to move from the youthful Mussolini, played by an actor, to the real images of the dictator, to make the time in which the story takes place palpable.
In fact, the Duce frequently resorted to cinema to construct his image.
He was the first politician to use his own image to consolidate his power, using newspapers, art, cinema, photography, newsreels, and the radio. He controlled them all and took advantage of the fact.
You could almost look at this woman jilted by her lover as the metaphor of a country, Italy, that fell in love with Mussolini only to be betrayed by him.
Yes, it may seem incredible that Italy could identify with a figure we don’t hesitate to call ridiculous today. But the Italy of the time was conformist and hypocritical. Mussolini was a man to whom power was an ideal; he didn’t use it, say, to amass a personal fortune. He really did want a “new fascist man”. Then something blatantly pathological took over his reasoning, and he made decisions that were clearly suicidal: build an empire, make laws discriminating against the Jews, and go to war, which was the worse mistake of them all.
Actually, he’s been compared to the current Italian prime minister.
They are two figures who are very different from the historical point of view, even though there is an analogy as far as their use of the media is concerned. Berlusconi’s conflict of interest was a powerful weapon that the left simply did not use to its own advantage. On the other hand, the fact that Berlusconi’s wife has sued for divorce is not remotely comparable: Ida Dalser died in an insane asylum, scorned, raped, and humiliated. Insane asylums were used by the Fascist regime as means of coercion; any troublemakers wound up on the psychiatric wards. Today, the risk is just the opposite: a person only vanishes if the media stop taking an interest in him or her.
Ida Dalser was definitely a “troublemaker”.
I learned about her through a documentary, , Il segreto di Mussolini by Fabrizio Laurenti and Gianfranco Norelli, as well as the books by Marco Zeni and Alfredo Pieroni. She was endowed with remarkable physical energy, and kept up her fight against the whole world all her life. She showed up on public occasions, wrote letters to the authorities, and when she was locked away she even managed to escape several times. For her character I was inspired by Antigone and even Medea, because with her actions this woman damaged her son; she didn’t defend him and protect him from harm.