The story starts at the point in Benito Mussolini's life when, at the age of nineteen, he gave up being a schoolmaster, left his home town of Forli and, as a guest worker on a building-site... See full summary »
The story starts at the point in Benito Mussolini's life when, at the age of nineteen, he gave up being a schoolmaster, left his home town of Forli and, as a guest worker on a building-site in Lausanne, Switzerland, underwent his own personal experience of the darker sides of the capitalist system. The speed with which the rhetorically gifted demagogue manages to assemble whole crowds of friends and followers around him - including above all his "protectress", the enigmatic Russian woman Angelika - is reflected in the speed at which he succeeds in attracting enemies from church and state. His love for the beautiful Eleonora, the daughter of a middle-class family, studying medicine at the University of Geneva - a city where Mussolini himself has been carrying stone around as an unskilled worker - even convinces him to take up studying. When a fatal accident occurs on the building-site - a worker plunges to his death from a badly-secured section of scaffolding - the young student ... Written by
To begin, there are two separate movies here. I watched the first disk in English and would have voted a 4. I watched the second in Italian with English subtitles and thus the 8. It is altogether more powerful and effective in the Italian. The passion just doesn't come through in the dubbed English. This is a first class production, a brilliant recapturing of the Europe that was destroyed in "The Great War." The costumes, the elegant surroundings and especially, the wonderful old trains are a delight. It's all photographed with a superb eye for moods and colours and angles. Interestingly, this paints a somewhat sympathetic picture of Mussolini who usually is regarded as a demagogue and a buffoon. Banderas gives us a man of conviction, principle and passion. My only disappointment was the quick ending. I had expected the film to take us through the Lateran accord, the invasion of Ethopia, World War II, the relationship with Hitler and Il Duce's grisly end. All that is covered in about 30 seconds at the end. A sequel in the works, perhaps? In any case, this is a fine piece with some outstanding performers and is yet another example of how the European genre of cinema surpasses Hollywood in taste and style.
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