Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A True Tale of Twin Obsessions: Marco Bellocchio's "Vincere"

This one packs a wallop: Marco Bellocchio's Vincere (2009) follows the arc of two fiery obsessions in the first decades of the 20th century:  Ida Dalser's (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) with Benito Mussolini (Filippo Timi) and Mussolini's with power. The wild beginning of this arc prefigures its ending.

Vincere ("WIN" / Victory!) is a beautifully shot film, making maximum use of period techniques almost like a John Dos Passos novel, with newsreels and dizzying montages. Throw in shadows, light, snow falling as seen through the bars of an asylum, Futurism, dramatic music and an operatic scale with two impressive leads, and you've got yourself quite a picture show.

Timi is completely convincing as Mussolini, who comes across as magnetic and, by the way, deranged.  Mezzogiorno is a joy to watch, like an Italian cousin of Marion Cotillard, and just as convincing as Ida. 

The Italian fascists are like gangsters with uniforms (actual gangsters were expanding in the USA at the exact same time, and many of them were Italian, too). Sometimes the way things play out reminded me of ancient Roman families in an aristocratic power play, other times Dalser seemed like one of the wives of Henry VIII. In the end, the brutality of power has no essence, but is merely situationally operational (to borrow from Michel Foucault).  One year, a fascist dictator, another year a bloody corpse hanging on a meat hook.

Benito Mussolini (Timi) and his Ida, Special Lady Friend -- or first wife (Mezzogiorno) -- watch a picture show.

Today's Rune: Harvest.


Charles Gramlich said...

The fascists certainly weren't above a little gangsterism themselves. Stealing whole countries in fact.

Erik Donald France said...

Yes, indeed.