Mise-en-Scène Black Shirts/Black Skins

I found this particular chapter to be very interesting. I have studied film in the past and I really enjoyed the way in which Cecilia Boggio breaks up different aspects of the film and describes the ways in which they relate to or represent the fascist agenda. In the first paragraph of the section entitled “Colonial and Personal Spatial Geograhpies” Boggio describes the first scene of the film Lo squadrone bianco in which Mario is driving a car, the camera focusing on him with a close up. “He seems entrapped not only by the rigorous framing of the camera but also by the frame created by the windshield of his car. Entrapped by whom or by what?” (287)

This is the aspect of filmmaking that I find to be the most interesting. Every aspect of every shot of a film is meant to portray a certain image or message. Each prop is intentionally placed where it lies and the lights are set up in such a way that supports the feeling the scene is meant to portray. It is a means of foreshadowing aspects of the plot that might occur later, as well as expressing the inner thoughts and struggles of the characters. This is something that is done in all films today. I find it very interesting that even in the early days of film these techniques were being used. In this case, the mise-en-scène of the scenes and aspects of the plot were meant to promote the fascist agenda, as a means of promoting certain propagandas instead of for the purpose of the art of filmmaking.

Dodecanese

            Nicholas Doumanis’ article, Italians as “Good” Colonizers, discusses the ways in which the natives of the Dodecanese islands felt about the arrival of the Italians to their islands and the colonization that took place. To better understand these reactions and responses I thought it would be helpful to have a better understanding of Italy’s presence in the Dodecanese Islands.

The Dodecanse, literally translated as ‘twelve islands’, represents the twelve large Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. The Dodecanses includes the islands of Rhodes (the most historically important and well-known of the islands), Kos, Patmos, Astipalca, Kalimnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Leros, Nisyros, Symi, Tilos, and Kastelorizo, as well as 150 smaller islands also in the Aegean Sea. After declaring independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, the Dodecanese Islands were quickly picked up by Italy, which, at the time, was deeply interested in this cluster of islands, particularly Rhodes, to monitor communications between Turkey and Libya.

Italy’s occupation of the Dodecanese became legal in July of 1923. Initially, Italians only planned basic improvements to the islands, such as the development of roads and street lamps, as well as the modernization of the water supply network. The next decade of Italian control over the Dodecanese islands can be characterized as an effort to “Italianize” the local inhabitants of the island. Many changes were made to the political and social environments of the islands. The educational system was changed to revoke the superintendence of the Orthodox Church over the schools, and the curriculums were made to include teaching of the Italian language. A school for the training of teachers was founded, and scholarships were developed for Dodecanesian students. In 1924, a law was passed which imposed multiple restraints on cultivation improved the ease with which land could be appropriated from the state, which greatly benefitted the environment but damaged the agricultural economy in the process.

In 1936 the fascist movement made headway in the islands when fascist Cesare de Vecchi became governor and imposed radical changes in an effort to achieve “radical Italianization and institutional modernization of the islands.” At this point there had developed a distinction between the “good” Italians and the fascists. It was after “Fascism came” that the initial efforts of the colonization became lost in de Vecchi’s agenda. “These were remembered as difficult times…interviewees had a habit of describing the period as the dictatorship, ‘when fascism came to the islands’” (page 230)

Libya and Italy

Libya represented an Italian colony from the 1910s until February of 1947. Angelo del Boca describes on page 25 “One hundred thousand tragic stories occurred between 1911 and 1943. They illustrate the cavalry of a people who have been, without any justifiable reason, attacked, subdued, humiliated, and, in some regions, decimated.” It seems that since that time, Libya has been requesting some sort of public acknowledgement of the oppression through which they suffered, as well as compensation for the damages that were caused over time. Del Boca describes the “hundreds of small properties…” – that went unreturned-  “…that represented the modest fruit of an entire working life.” (page 26). There was also the promise of the creation of a new hospital, as well as “moral obligations” which went, for a long time, unfulfilled and ignored. In further research I discovered an article published on the BBC News website on July 10, 1998 that claims that Italy finally apologized for the colonization of “the north African country and for the damage and misery it caused.” I attached a link to the article below; it includes excerpts from the broadcast.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/monitoring/130160.stm

 

The Rise and Fall of the Crispi Phenomenon

In rereading chapter 16, specifically the section on the Crispi Phenomenon, I thought of his time in power as an initially well-intentioned movement that got out of control. The final paragraph of the section entitled The Crispi Phenomenon, Duggan describes Crispi as “a democrat who believed strongly in the need to defuse social question by making sure that the masses had a stake in the life of the nation.” (page 335). This particular quote really stuck with me during my first and second reading of this passage because it is something I find I agree with. I believe that in order for the masses to want to work collectively for the good of the whole they need to have a personal stake in the success of the country. This makes the struggles and successes of the nation of personal importance to the individuals that make up the masses. Had Crispi not let the power go to his head, and had he been able to focus on this belief throughout the duration of his time in power, he may have been able to lead Italy to some real successes instead of tragedies and struggles it faced during that decade.

While some of his political moves helped Italy during its years of struggle, it seemed that Crispi’s insurmountable desire to experience warfare victory led him to his demise. In fact, his first move when returned to power after the Dogali disaster was to sign a military convention with Germany. Duggan states that “the main purpose of this convention was to make war as attractive as possible to Germany” (page 328). Pushing hard for war early in 1888, Crispi pulled back at the last moment and informed Germany that “it might be wise to wait until Italy had completed a further round of rearmament” (page 329). Then, in a later effort to encourage the startup of a war, Crispi sent secret propositions to France in 1890 offering to abandon the Triple Alliance in return for the concession of Tripoli. Such a move could have been disastrous for Italy in the unstable condition in which it existed. His desire for war would not allow him to stop in Europe, as Crispi then turned to Africa, though he is described as being “somewhat reluctant”. In signing the Treat of Uccialli Crispi believed that he was agreeing to assist Menelik in bringing the empire fully under his control, in return for Italy’s right to large portions of inland territory and an Italian protectorate over Ethiopia. In the second half of 1889 Crispi ordered movement of Italian forces from the Red Sea inland and attempted to form a new Italian colony. His charisma and excitement when publically speaking is what made Crispi capable of dominating the political scene for almost a decade, but his inability to heed his desire for war and desire for expansion led to his demise as a political figure.

 

Francesco_Crispi.jpg

what a great mustache

Mussolini and Propaganda

“…The fascist violence was far more than just a tool of war. It was also an instrument of propaganda, a means of disseminating the ‘myth’ of the fatherland and generating a spirit of crusading idealism and fervour. As Mussolini declared in Naples on the eve of the March on Rome: ‘We have created our myth. A myth is a faith, a passion…Our myth is the nation, our myth is the greatness of the nation.” (page 426)

 

As I read through this chapter I found that my mind was continuously referring back to this quote by Mussolini. I was very interested to see that the fascism movement was described in this passage as “an instrument of propaganda” because in this time period where the country was severely divided and communication was limited, the use of propaganda allowed the fascist party to manipulate the information available to the public in order to aid the growth of fascism. I found that the idea of propaganda kept appearing in this chapter; within the numerous and subtle ways in which Mussolini conducted himself and the aggressive and very public displays of fascist ideologies, often carried out with violence, described by Mussolini as “a brutal necessity to which we have been driven” (page 427). This was a specific use of propaganda meant to justify the violence carried out by the fascist party, and as the ability to spread information grew with the development of newspapers and various publications, so did the ability of the fascists and Mussolini to spread various forms of propaganda that would eventually bring Mussolini and the fascist party to power.

As the ability to spread propaganda grew, so did the influence of the fascist party. Page 429 of this chapter describes that there were “five national newspapers, two journals, two journals and some eighty local newspapers all closely tied to the party’s central machinery in Rome.” Now with access to the use of local and national publications, Mussolini possessed the ability to mold the public image of fascism into one that represented, above all else, loyalty to the fatherland. His influence and beliefs spread, and he was eventually elected Prime Minister, and the fascist party was strongly in power. Mussolini’s new position as Prime Minister strengthened his influence and his power. He was described as possessing “an extraordinary capacity to feel his way around obstacles, wrong-footing his opponents by spinning a web of ambiguity that left them uncertain as to exactly what he was thinking or planning to do, and alternating threats with blandishments.”

Finally, this use of propaganda portrayed the fascist party as one that valued loyalty to the fatherland even, and especially, in the absence of liberty. Mussolini said “if by liberty is meant the right to spit on the symbols of religion, the fatherland and the state, then I – head of the government and Duce of fascism – declare this liberty will never be allowed!” (page 436). This quote not only demonstrates Mussolini’s loyalty to the fatherland, but also describes the idea of liberty as a movement of great disrespect and rejection of one’s country. With the use of propaganda – and by rejecting the ideas of the other political and social movements that were active in this time, and by ruling the country while he “carefully cloaked each move he made in political ambiguity,” – Mussolini was able to bring himself and the fascist party to power.

 

I included a link to a website I came across that describes the fundamental ideas behind fascism in a very interesting way. Here is the link so you guys can check it out:

 

 

Also, I included the websites and posts I wanted to share before but couldn’t because I still don’t know how to use the blog:

This is the image and the website from the Kent State University shootings that I mentioned last class: