Italian Fascism s Empire Cinema
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Winner, 2014 Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2015

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Ruth Ben-Ghiat provides the first in-depth study of feature and documentary films produced under the auspices of Mussolini's government that took as their subjects or settings Italy's African and Balkan colonies. These "empire films" were Italy's entry into an international market for the exotic. The films engaged its most experienced and cosmopolitan directors (Augusto Genina, Mario Camerini) as well as new filmmakers (Roberto Rossellini) who would make their marks in the postwar years. Ben-Ghiat sees these films as part of the aesthetic development that would lead to neo-realism. Shot in Libya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, these movies reinforced Fascist racial and labor policies and were largely forgotten after the war. Ben-Ghiat restores them to Italian and international film history in this gripping account of empire, war, and the cinema of dictatorship.

1. Empire Cinema: Frames and Agendas
2. Italian Cinema and the Colonies to 1935
3. Mapping Empire Cinema, 1935-39
4. Coming Home to the Colonies
5. Imperial Bodies I: Italians and Askaris
6. Imperial Bodies II: Slaves of Love, Slaves of Labor
7. Film Policies and Cultures, 1940-1943
8. The End of Empire



Publié par
Date de parution 11 février 2015
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253015662
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 6 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


EMPIRE CINEMAnew directions in national cinemas
Jacqueline Reich, editor
R u t h B e n- G h i a t
Indiana University Press
Bloomington & IndianapolisTis book is a publication of Te paper used in this publication
meets the minimum requirements of
Indiana University Press the Amer cian National Standard for
Ofce of Scholarly Publishing Information Sciences—Permanence of
Herman B Wells Library 350 Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI
1320 East 10th Street Z39.48–1992.
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
Manufactured in the United States of America
Telephon e 800 - 8 4 2 - 6 7 96 Library of Congress
Cataloging-inFax 8 1 2 - 85 5 - 7 9 3 1 Publication Data
© 2015 by Ruth BeG nh- iat Ben-Ghiat, Ruth.
Italian fascism's empire cinema / Ruth
All rights reserved Ben-Ghiat.
pages cm. — (New directions in
No part of this book may be reproduced national cinemas)
or utilized in any form or by any means, Includes bibliographical references and
electronic or mechanicc a llu , idi ng index.
photocopying and recording, or by any ISBN 978-0-253-01559-4 (pbk. : alk.
information storage and retrieval systpeampe, r) — ISBN 978-0-253-01552-5 (cloth :
without permission in writing from the alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-253-01566-2
publisher. Te Association of A-meri (ebook) 1. Motion pictures—Italy—
can University Presses’ Resolution on History—20th century. 2. Imperialism
Permissions constitutes the only exceptin mion otion pictures. 3. Colonies in motion
to this prohibition. pictures. 4. Motion pictures—Political
aspects. I. Title.
PN1993.5.I88B336 2015
1 2 3 4 5 20 19 18 17 16 15For JuliaThis page intentionally left blank C O NT ENT S
Acknowledgments ix
Introductio n xiii
1. Empire Cinema: Frames and Agend as1
2. Italian Cinema and the Colonies t o 121935
3. Mapping Empire Cinema, 1935–193 9 43
4. Coming Home to the Colon ie7s8
5. Imperial Bodies, Part I: Italians and A sk1a18ris
6. Imperial Bodies, Part II: Slaves of Love, Slaves o f L16a7bor
7. Film Policies and Cultures, 1940– 1924134
8. Te End of Empire 243
Epilogu e 296
Notes 309
Bibliography 335
Filmography 369
Index 375This page intentionally left blank A C K N O W L E D G M ENT S
it gives me great pleasure to thank the many people who assisted me
with this book. I have mentioned those whom I consulted on s- pecifc is
sues in the notes, to make clear t d hiv e iidur ianl contributions. I am g - rate
ful to all of you. Tis study has necessitated the consultation of a variety
of flm and military archives. I thank Paola Castagna, Emiliano Morreale,
and Enrico Daddario of the Cineteca Nazionale di Cinematografa. Silvio
Alovisio and Fabio Pezzeti Tonion of the Museo Nazionale del Cinema
gave invaluable help at several junctures, and Sergio Grmek Germani and
Livio Jacob kindly facilitated my use of the materials of the Cineteca del
Friuli’s Fondo Genina. I would like to recognize the Istituto -Luce’s initia
tive to digitalize its collections and the role of the Archivio Fotografco’s
Luigi Oggianu in that efort. Decades ago, he pried open a rusted box
marked “Africa Orientale Italiana” for me, the images inside re - lating a his
tory of military c a ind ematographic collaboration that few h -ad then ex
plored. My study builds on the pioneering work of Mino Argentieri, Jean
Gili, and Gian Piero Bruneta in this area. Another exemplary scholar,
Adriano Aprà, has been a generous and helpful resource t out throhue gh
writing of this book, and I thank him for providing me with materials from
his own Archivio Aprà. Rafaele De Berti and Giorgio Bertellini took time
to assist me at v oaurs istages of this project. Francesco Caseti has been
a supportive colleague and friend t ohurt otuhge yh ears: he will see the
infuence his lucid and incisive works have had on this study.
ixx Ack now l e dgm e n ts
A t military archives in Rome, I thank Dr. Ester Pennella of the Ufcio
Storico della Marina Militare and Colonel Antonio Maria Iannone and
Dr. Eleonora Pitaro of the Archivio Storico, Ministero dell’Aeronautica.
Angelo Del Boca, Giorgio Rochat, Nicola Labanca, and MacGregor Knox
have all patiently answered my questions about military and c- olonial mat
ters for many years, and this book draws on their pathbre -aking schol
arship on Fascist imperialism and militarism. Te enthusiasm of Geoff
Eley meant a lot to me as I took on this obscure topic, and his writings on
history and historiography have shaped my thinking. Te Collegio Carlo
Alberto provided a very hospitable place to write over two summers. I
remain grateful for their Italian Studies Fellowship and to Daniela Del
Boca for her support and friendship in Torino and New York.
My home base of New York University (NYU) has contributed to this
book in many ways. I thank the Humanities Initiative and the d- ean of hu
manities for a publication subvention, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences for
research funds, and my colleagues in the Departments of Italian Studies
and History for encouraging my interdisciplinary explorations. Roberta
GarbarinP i-hilippe and Stefania Patavina of the former depa-rtment fa
cilitated my eforts to fnish this book while juggling parenting, chairing,
and teaching. Te work of my graduate students has inspired this study—
this book’s origins lie partly in seminars I taught on Italian colonialism
and on cinema during Fascism. I thank my graduate students for their
intelligent engagements with these topics and Alberto Zambenedeti,
Franco Baldasso, and Meredith Levin for their research assistance as well.
Connor Gaudet of NYU’s Digital Studio helped me patiently with the
book’s many images. I greatly appreciated the enthusiasm and patience of
Raina Polivka at Indiana University Press, and I thank her, J- enna Whit
taker, Michelle Sybert, and Daniel Pyle for guiding the book through the
production process.
My Italian studies writing group read every word of this study, and I so
appreciate the camaraderie and invaluable feedback of Ellen Nerenberg,
Jacqueline Reich, and Giancarlo Lombardi. So many other colleagues and
friends sustained me during the long writing process: I thank particularly
Mia Fuller, long an interlocutor on the issues taken up here, and Stephanie
Malia Hom: both read the introduction. Lisa Tiersten, Nita Juneja, Mia,
Giovanna Calvino, and Diane Coyle ofered the gifs of inspiration and Ack now l e dgm e n ts xi
the joys of lon lags-ting friendship over meals and telephone and Skype
Te support of my family in the United States, the United Kingdom,
Israel, and France has meant the world to me. I thank especially my father,
Raphael Benghiat; my mother, Margaret Spence Robison; my brother,
Michael Benghiat; my stepmother, Dušica Savić Benghiat; my sister,
Simonida Benghiat; my aunts and uncles, Jack and Brenda Benghiat and
Dr. Victor and Viti Benghiat; and my cousin, Shlomit Almog. Tey showed
the kindness of never asking when this book was going to be fnished and
gave me confdence that I was on the right path. I dedicate this book to
my wonderful daughter, Julia.This page intentionally left blank I N T R OD UC T IO N
A soldier gets down from a truck, takes a look around and muters “Holy
crap!” He had imagined a conventional Africa, with tall palm trees,
bananas, and dancing women, a mixture of Turkey, India, and Morocco,
the dream land of Paramount Pictures’ “Oriental” flms . . . what he fnds
instead is a place like home, but even more unwelcoming and indiferent.
Tey had cheated him.
ennio flaiano’s take on the gap between imperial fantas-y and re
ality, writen while he was in Ethiopia during the 1935–1936 Italian war on
that country, is an apt introduction to a book on Italian Fascism’s empire
cinema. Te allusion to Am cearn i cinema as the reference for Italia- n popu
l ar imaginings of exoticism sums up the challenges and possib-ilities Mus
solini’s dictatorship faced in developing its own imperial flm aesthetic. By
the mid 1-930s, Italy had been in Africa for decades, with the occupation
of Ethiopia following those of Eritrea (1890), Somalia (1908), and Libya
(1912), as well as the Dodecanese Islands (1912), and each of t-hese colo
nies had f ugred in privately funded exploration flms or in newsreels and
documentaries made by the s rt ua n Ites-tituto Luce. Yet only Libya, Italy’s
one North A r fic an colony, had been the seting for a consistent number of
flm productions from the onset of Italian control through the slowdown
of the Italian industry in the late 1920s. Libya ofered a brand of Orientalist
scenery made recognizable from Hollywood, French, and other national
cinemas, whereas East Africa had n lo ic preubcall in terms of scre-en im
agery. Te perennial imperialist vision of Africa as an “empty space” to

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