Ghastly to look at, annoying to listen to, this documentary (made by four uncredited directors) covers events between Italy's surrender to the Allies in September '43 and her liberation from the Nazis eighteen months later. Its hectoring, uninformative commentary sanitises the murky labyrinthine politics of the epoch, with further obfuscation guaranteed by a Moscow-speak vocabulary ('Nazi vampires', 'Fascist dogs'). As for the footage we are given to look at, or away from, a lavish selection of executions, atrocities and humiliations is intercut with passages of gripping actualité (the trial of police chief Caruso, filmed by Visconti) and some palpably phoney combat material. The intention, presumably, was to repudiate the Fascist past and look forward to a democratic future. A sour and shifty tone, however, consorts uneasily with that agenda.
Cast and crew
Giuseppe De Santis, Marcello Pagliero, Mario Serandrei, Luchino Visconti
Umberto Calosso, Umberto Barbaro