Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Film Review - 'Vincere' by Marco Bellocchio

The film Vincere is about the relationship between Ida Dalser and the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. In his book on Mussolini, Christopher Hibbert provides some fascinating background information in this respect. The Italian media portrayed Mussolini as a perfect role model for the Italian family- dedicated to his children - Uomo Casalingo. In reality Mussolini was a donnaiolo - Don Juan. According to Hibbert, one of his earliest mistresses was a bizarre, neurotic woman. Her name was Ida Dalser. She had a mentally retarted and physically deformed child by Mussolini. Il Duce ultimately ended the relationship and had Ida incarcerated in a mental institution.

Since 1913 Ida, who is portrayed in a sympathetic manner in the film, had claimed that Mussolini had promised to marry her, or in fact had done so, and that she could not be bribed with a maintenance allowance. Ida often came to the offices of Il Popolo d'Italia in Milan and created a scene. On one occasion Mussolini threatened her with a pistol. On another occasion she was arrested for causing a breach of the peace in Trento where she set fire to furniture in the Hotel Bristol claiming that she was Mussolini's wife. She died in a mental hospital in Venice in 1937.

Ida's son Benito died in another mental hospital in Milan in 1942. Vincere is a powerful and moving film which was recently shown in the Cornerhouse in Manchester. It was directed by the accomplished Italian director Marco Bellochio and starred Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Filippo Timi.

The film combines historical material with a very human and personal story. Ida gave up everything to support Mussolini's political ambitions and in return was treated in a brutal manner culminating with 11 years imprisonment in a lunatic asylum. Bellochio has directed a patently anti-fascist film and I would recommend it to all libertarians and anarchists.

As further background reading to this period there is an excellent pamphlet published by the Anarchist Federation entitled the Italian Factory Council Movement 1920. I reviewed this pamphlet for Northern Voices but it was not published due to reasons of space. This review is available on request.

No comments: