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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
Mussolini was a bullying opportunist, a hooligan who would use shouting in an uninterupptible manner in is oratory discourse to overwhelm his debaters. He had little to no real understanding or belief in the socialism he professed to espouse. Rather he used the socialist party to build his own image and to further his own career. In this film this is perceived of him by both his wife, Rachele, and his sometime supporter, Angelika Balabanoff. However, neither had the gumption to stand by their convictions as Benito's significance to them had grown such that neither could ignore him. The film tries to conceal this point, but it does come out, knowing where Benito was headed after the film ends.
The English title is pretty misleading. The film ends in 1915, just before Italy enters World War I on the side of the Allies, as Mussolini intended. So there is nothing in the film about the "... Fall of Mussolini". The film deals only with "... The Rise ..." The Italian title is much more accurate, as it does deal pretty much with Mussolini's youth, 1901-1915. I watched the English audio version. Another reviewer stated the Italian version (English subtitled) was better because it was more passionate. That may well be, but both versions on the DVD are dubbed. That's not Antonio Banderas speaking Italian on the Italian version.
Perhaps for educational value, the film has some merit to get an idea what Mussolini's life was like 1901-1915. It seems chronologically accurate, though it may be debatable whether Mussolini resigned or was expelled and/or fired from his various positions. In the film he is portrayed as resigning from the socialist party, but per Wikipedia he was expelled. So the film may not be absolutely accurate, but one can get a feel for what Mussolini was like in the film as he bullied people and constantly espoused and provoked violence. I find it interesting that the film ends just before Mussolini is about to show his true colors as he enters the war himself (the war being opposed by the socialist party) and afterward promotes Fascism (diametrically opposed to the socialism he professed before the war).
I give the film a low rating based on its entertainment value. The film does have some educational value which is why I watched it. However, I find little entertainment value in the glorification of such a hypocritical opportunist as Benito Mussolini and for me film ratings are based on entertainment value.
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