Scipione l'africano (1937)
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"Scipione l'Africano" is some kind of breviary of the ideology of the Mussolini years:personality cult(Scipione's boldness against the senate's listlessness), a huge -and this is an euphemism - misogyny (Scipione's wife who briefly appears is relegated to the mother's role,baby in arms,par excellence the woman's raison d'être;on the other hand,the wicked queen Sofonisbe who dabbles in politics is even slagged of by her husband:"when she entered my life,wisdom walked away") and a blatant over-simplification:the Romans are noble,they treat their prisoners with great consideration while Hannibal and his clique are lecherous brutes.
Strangely,the movies leaves little room to anecdote:only a bland couple,both the cruel barbarians' prisoners is featured outside the historical characters.The actors 'playing recalls the silent movies,almost ten years after "the jazz singer"!The final scenes are admittedly spectacular but they have been dwarfed by the great epics of the late fifties/early sixties.
NB:"Cartagine in fiamme" (1960) by the same director is neither a sequel nor an improvement.
The scenes with the elephants are painfully ugly, and just a reminder of the essential cruelty of the politics behind this film.
Produced by Vittorio Mussolini at the urging of his father 'Il Duce.' Some moments constitute effective propaganda, but that the film only played a week in Italy tells us that by the date of its release, Italians were getting tired of the same old lies.
And whatever the facts, thematic lies abound - the central premise of the film appears to be that, since an African nation had invaded Italy 2,000 years ago, this justified Italy invading another African nation (Ethiopia) in the 1930s - huh?! A grim reminder that Mussolini had slipped into some kind of fantasyland and was bent on bringing Italy down with him.
Looney, messy, arrogant, dull. Only for students of the history of Italian Fascism, or that of propaganda in general.