Lies can be addictive, and films can have their dark side. Prolific filmmaker and essayist Mark Cousins studies how the Italian Fascist movement, led by Benito Mussolini, was portrayed in the 1920s prior to its ascent to power. Under special scrutiny is the 1922 pseudo-documentary A Noi!, a milestone film in the history of the genre of propaganda.
Propaganda gave fascism a mythical aura, regardless of the fact that it was based on transparent lies. Mussolini also utilised fear-mongering and violence to seize power. As a counterpoint to archival material, the documentary includes acted scenes, in which Alba Rohrwacher portrays a woman who is a firm believer in fascism. She eventually discovers the consequences of the ideology – but only when it is too late.
Mussolini’s fascist government was in power in Italy between 1922 and 1943. The central message of the film is that this particular movement’s downfall did not mark an end to fascism as an influential movement. Present day right-wing extremist movements all around the globe are directly linked to it. At the beginning of the film is displayed a clip from a 2016 interview of Donald Trump. When asked why he tweeted a quote from Mussolini (“It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”), it appears as if Trump is not even aware who Mussolini was.
Paavo Ihalainen (translated by Herman Tikkanen)