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Open Access Italian Cinema and the Fascist Past: Tracing Memory Amnesia

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Italian Cinema and the Fascist Past: Tracing Memory Amnesia

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In Italy, cinema has contributed to constructing a paradox of memory in which the rememberer is asked to prevent past mistakes from happening again and yet is encouraged to forget what those mistakes were, or that they ever even took place. Through an examination of the long-term trends in Italian cinema about the Fascist period, this article explores its recurrent tropes alongside its recurrent absences, isolating in particular the act of killing and Italy’s African Empire as crucial absences in Italy’s memory. The dominant narrative of italiani brava gente explains popular amnesia and institutional silences that still surround the darkest and bloodiest pages in Italy’s history. From the narratives of innocence and sacrifice that populate the canon of Italian film about Fascism to the sanitised representations of Italy’s wars of aggression or the boycott of Moustapha Akkad’s The Lion of the Desert (1981), this paper argues that recurrent presences and absences in Italy’s cinematic memories of the long Second World War have not been random but coherent, cogent and consistent.

Affiliations: 1: School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, Giacomo.lichtner@vuw.ac.nz

10.1163/22116257-00401002
/content/journals/10.1163/22116257-00401002
dcterms_title,pub_keyword,dcterms_description,pub_author
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In Italy, cinema has contributed to constructing a paradox of memory in which the rememberer is asked to prevent past mistakes from happening again and yet is encouraged to forget what those mistakes were, or that they ever even took place. Through an examination of the long-term trends in Italian cinema about the Fascist period, this article explores its recurrent tropes alongside its recurrent absences, isolating in particular the act of killing and Italy’s African Empire as crucial absences in Italy’s memory. The dominant narrative of italiani brava gente explains popular amnesia and institutional silences that still surround the darkest and bloodiest pages in Italy’s history. From the narratives of innocence and sacrifice that populate the canon of Italian film about Fascism to the sanitised representations of Italy’s wars of aggression or the boycott of Moustapha Akkad’s The Lion of the Desert (1981), this paper argues that recurrent presences and absences in Italy’s cinematic memories of the long Second World War have not been random but coherent, cogent and consistent.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22116257-00401002
2015-04-04
2018-04-24

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