Interpreting the Risorgimento: Blasetti's "1860" and the Legacy of Motherly Love

by Gabriella Romani
Interpreting the Risorgimento: Blasetti's "1860" and the Legacy of Motherly Love
Gabriella Romani
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Interpreting the Risorgirnento: Blasetti 2 1860 and the Legacy of Motherly Love

lessandro Blasetti's 1860 has recently been the focus of literary and film criticism, which analyzed various aspects of the film, including the didactic and ideological nature of the director's interpretation of the l3isorgimento.l For his reading of this memorable Italian past, Blasetti used both domestic and foreign sources of artistic inspiration. Critics have traced, for example, the origin of his cinematic narrative to Soviet realist films and to Macchiaioli painters (Dalle Vacche 105; Landy 184; Hill "The Art of History"). An additional domestic source of influence may be found in the Risorgimento female iconography produced by nineteenth- century patriotic writers and artists, which sprang from what later in the century came to be known as "questione femrninile."2 Both during the Risorgirnento period and the first decades of the twentieth century, the question of women's education and role in society constituted a central theme in the public discourse on the social transformation and modem- ization of Italy. From Giuseppe Mazzini's enthralling call to women to fulfill their specific mission in the process of moral regeneration of Italy to the Fascist regime's "cult of motherhood in the name of building nation- state power" (De Grazia xi), the female figure represented a commonly used rhetorical strategy for the projection of an idealized image of a renewed Italy.

Blasetti's representation of gender identities and, more specifically, of the female protagonist in 1860 can be viewed within this project of cul- tural renovation of Italy. Gesuzza, as well as the other more marginal female characters in the film, exemphfy the director's intent to find in the glorified Italian past of the Risorgirnento viable autochthonous models of behavior to be promoted in the fast-changing urban Italian society, seen as too open to foreign paradigms of modernity. For these portrayals, Blasetti relied on the iconography of Risorgimento heroines, and on popular images of nineteenth-century female representations. The patriotic liter- ature, music, and visual art produced during the Risorgimento often represented Italy allegorically as a woman, sometimes portrayed in chains (as a symbol of her oppression) and other times as a mother -a unifying force for the progeny of Italian brothers and sisters. "Cara Italia," Alessandro Manzoni wrote in his ode Marzo 1821, "Ecco alfin dal tuo sen0 sbocciati / Stretti intorno a' tuoi santi colon / Forti, armati de' propri dolori 1I tuoi fi& son sorti a pugnar!" (73,85433)And Francesco Hayez, a prominent Romantic painter, beginning in 1882created several versions of

ITALICA Volume 79 Number 3 (2002)

I Vespri sin'liani, a story that was particularly popular in patriotic hagio- graphy: a French soldier's molestation of a young married woman that supposedly sparked the 1282Sicilian insurrections against the Angevins' domination. Hayez's paintings prominently featured the figure of the Sicilian woman, represented as the symbol of Italian honor violated by foreign powers (Banti 66-69; 84). As Risorgimento writers and artists infused their works with a fundamental call for liberation from foreign corruption and political occupation, the portrayal of Italy as woman served the moral and political claim for unification -a claim rhetori- cally presented as a need to re-establish and protect the Italian national honor. Blasetti drew from this tradition of allegorical female representa- tions as he cinematically invoked a cultural rebirth of Italy and Italian cinema, battered by the disastrous economic outcome of World War I and by the inundation of foreign cultural products.

Whereas both protagonists, Gesuzza and Canniniddu, can be viewed as symbolizing fascist efforts of ruralization and restoration of traditional patriarchal values, it is the role of the female protagonist to synthesize cinematically the fascist desire to reconcile the demands of modernity with the will to maintain a fundamentally traditional society? Such synthe- sis rests upon what, in fascist, and, more generally nationalistic policies, is considered a pillar of sociallife: motherh~od.~

Blasetti, in fact, proposes the figure of the mother and the trope of motherly love as a focalizing ele- ment for his general agenda of endorsement of Risorgimento values. The female character, thus, represented in motherly fashion, becomes a main carrier of Blasetti's cinematic project of Risorgimento myth-making.

The director's representation of femininity in 1860 is central yet sub- servient to his general program of cultural reawakening. As Lucia Re points out, the fascist theorization of woman's nature and role in society is first and foremost a "cultural construction of gender," that is, a discur- sive practice comprised of certain mechanisms, tactics, and devices (76). Feminist film theorists have pointed out the way in which cinematic rep- resentations of women have often relied on a fixed iconography that is "introduced to aid understanding and provide the audience with basic fads with which to comprehend the narrative" (Johnston 32).Blasetti did not believe in a utilitarian purpose for cinema but recognized the impor- tance of creating a narrative to which the general public could relate.5 Woman as an icon of the Risorgimento imagery provided him with an effective tool to communicate his idealized vision of the past and a uni- fied perception of a current national body politic. Similar to the postwar Italian cinema studied by Millicent Marcus, 1860 presents a feminized body politic.6 According to Marcus, postwar cinematic representations of Italian national identity depend on traditional dualistic portrayals of women. De Santis, Fellini, Scola, and De Sica, just to mention some of the directors included in Marcus's study, all use the metaphor of a feminized body politic for "their critique of the national self" (Marcus 330).Although

Blasetti's 1860 393

Blasetti's film constitutes a promotion rather than a critique of the national self, he nevertheless privileges the female body as a term of relation for national collective identity.' Such relation is rendered through the pro- motion of a traditional notion of femininity, that of woman as mother -a figure, which, since the nineteenth century, had been a central tenet of the bourgeois doctrine of the family As Sarah Hill has noted, "Blasetti uses the conventions of family representation to conflate nation and fa mil^ telling the story of the 'Italian family' through the story of a single family, that of Carmelo and Gesuzza" (Family Resemblance 142). In such a vision, the familial nucleus is perceived as a microcosm of the whole society, with the mother being the connecting link between private and public spheres of life: the symbol and guarantor of the unity of the single cell as well as of the whole body of the Italian nation.

While strongly indebted to current fascist debates on gender definition for his protagonist's portrayal as a motherly figure, Blasetti also relied on a historical antecedent that was the female patriot of the Risorgimento. The literature of the Risorgimento offers two basic archetypes of female patriotism, that of the muter dolorosa and another of mato salvifiica. The first type represents the woman who, as a mother deprived of her martyred children, becomes the symbol of sacrifice imposed on Italian people fighting for the cause of national uni6cation. Eleonora Ruffini, for example -mother of the patriot brothers Iacopo and Giovanni Ruffini, the first deceased in prison and the second long exiled in England -has been celebrated in Risorgimento literature as a model of female virtue for her ability to endure and persomfy the pain caused by the loss of her children.8 The mother par excellence, however, of Risorgimento hagiography was Adelaide Cairoli, whose memory was still commemorated at the time Blasetti was making 1860.9 She was the mother of Benedetto Cairoli, prime minister of Italy from 1878 to 1881, and, also, of four other children who perished in the making of the Italian unification. From the time of her first child's death in 1849, Adelaide Cairoli, a close friend of both Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi, became a living monument to the struggles of Italy for liberation. However, it was with the death of her fourth child, Giovanni, in 1869 that her personal sacrifice garnered increasing public recognition. Through official ceremonies (she was made honorary citizen of several cities) and tributes, such as Giosue Carducci's poem entitled "In morte di Giovanni Cairoli" (1870), and Gualberta Alaide Beccari's Albo (1872), Adelaide Cairoli began to be regarded as a "miracolo di abnegazione patria" and "madre cittadina." (Beccari xii, xv). Mazzini's words of condolence in 1869 perhaps best summarize the aura of sancti- fied female heroism that surrounded the name of Adelaide Cairoli:

La vostra famiglia sar&, quando avremo liberth Vera, virt~,unit& e coscienza di Popolo, una pagina storica della Nazione. Le tombe dei vostri figh saranno altari. I lor0 nomi staranno tra i prirni nella litania dei vostri Santi. E voi che educaste le anime loro, voi che li avete veduti sparire a uno a uno, patendo ad che soltanto una rnadre pub intendere, ma non disperando, rimmete simbolo a tutti del dolore che redime e san- tifica, esempio solenne alle donne italiane e insegnamento del come la farniglia possa essere ab che deve, e sinora non I?,Tempio, santuario della Patria comune. (8)

After her death in 1871, a statue was commissioned by the city of Pavia and executed by the Florentine sculptor, Gerolamo Masini; her family chapel in Gropello was restored and opened to the public in 1938, in a ceremony presided over by the King and Queen of Italy; and in 1943 a biography of her life was published in which the author, Maria Magnt emphasized the contemporary relevance for Italian women of the patri- otic message personified by Adelaide Cairoli.

To the mater salvzjh pup belong those women whose roles as mothers and educators were deemed crucial in the process of moral and political transformation of Italy. For their beneficial influence on children -the future generation of Italians -women were hailed as the country's salva- tion from its past of moral vice and corruption. Giuliana Molino Colom- bini, Erminia Fuh Fusinato, and Caterina Franceschi Ferrucci, famous nineteenth-century pedagogues and writers, wrote extensively on the political mission of women as educators.10 Notably the debate on the questione della donna in the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century was inextricably connected to the process of reforma- tion of the educational system. Even before the Casati and Coppino Laws (1859 and 1877, respectively) introduced mandatory elementary schooling for all, female education had played a central role in the debate on the cultural and social development of Italy11 Based on the belief that "la donna informa i costurni dei popoli pih che non facciano gli uomini stessi con le leggin (Pastorini 59), the campaign for the "nationalization" of Italians (that is, a process that would favor the creation of a new Italian collective identity) relied strongly on women's participation.12 "Educare la donna per educare i figh a sentimenti di carith e giustizia, all'amore della patria e dell'indipendenza, educare la donna per dissipare Yignoranza e i pregiu- dizi del popolo" (Pastorini 10). While excluded from the formal political arena, women were seen as effective executors of those educational efforts Italy was making via institutional reforms.

Nineteenth-century writings devoted to the female role in Italian society portrayed women as the primary custodians of national morality and the main inspirational figures for the actions of their children and husbands.13 For Giuseppe Mazzini, for instance, the struggle for a polit- ically unified Italy was conceived as first of all a mission, a common duty to be allocated to both sexes accordingly to their roles in society. "Oh! Se le donne intendessero tutte, come alcune intendono, la loro missione!" Mazzini wrote "Se intendessero la lor0 potenza, e la svolgessero bene! Se volessem, anziche pascersi d'ozio e di cormtela, riconsacrarsi con un aposto- lato sublime di liberth, e costituirsi, colla gioven~ che le circonda, ispira- trici di magnanimi fatti, e di generoso sentire!" (20). Changes in national mentality and costumes were hailed as the panacea to the social and political problems of Italy, as Foscolo had also pointed out in his essay "Women of Italy" in 1826.14 Institutional reforms, throughout the century, especially within the educational system, emphasized the ideological vision of the female social and political mission.

Starting from the writings of women patriots in the late 1840s, the discourse on women's role in nineteenth-century Italy assumed a fun- damentally conservative stance toward the national and international claims for gender equality. Italian moderate thought rejected foreign par- adigms of female emancipation on the basis of a nationalistic assump- tion that feminism, in the European sense, did not reflect the true Italian essence. Thus, in the pages of La donna, a periodical devoted to women's issues founded by Gualberta Alaide Beccari (a close friend of Adelaide Cairoli), Giuliana Molino Colombini refuted the political ideas of Jenny d'Hericourt, a French-American proponent of female legal emancipation, on the basis of a supposed fundamental difference in national approaches to feminism, formulated in terms of "raziocinio francese contro sentimento italico" (Fieroni Bortolotti 32). Traditionalism, the moderates argued, was specific to Italian character -the Italian way, as distinct from the British or French way of addressing and resolving the question of women's eman- cipation. It was the same movement that, in opposition to the campaigns promoted by Jessie White Mario, Anna Kuliscioff, and Anna Maria Mozzoni, affirmed the secondary importance of legal emancipation in the life of a woman, "confortata dall'eguaglmua spirituale che il cristianesimo le aveva guadagnato, a sollievo appunto di questa rinuncia mondana" (Pieroni Bortolotti 32). Catholics and mazzinians alike envisioned a Risorgimento for women as a reawakening of their sense of civic duty and, as an outcome of this process, a gradual improvement of their social conditions.

Nineteenthcentury moderate views on the questione della donna played a sipficant role in shaping the fascist ideological stance on gender relations. As Victoria De Grazia pointed out, "fascist policies toward women were at every moment conditioned by the legacy of institutions the dictatorship inherited from the liberal state" (10). What late nineteenth-century and fascist policies toward women had in common was the belief that women were assigned a specific mission, that of being the catalyzers of true national changes. For Giovanni Gentile, for instance, minister of education and main theorizer of fascist ideology, the true difference between the sexes was not to be found in anatomical or physiological differences between men and women but rather in their distinct and yet comple- mentary missions in society, "ritornando alla sana concezione della donna che I2 donna, e non I2 uomo, col suo limite e quindi col suo valore" (83). Women and men had to fulfill the roles that contemporary society as well as tradition had specifically assigned them. In particular, Gentile emphasized the "high mission" given to women in their role as partic- ipants in the process of social and cultural transformation of Italy -a concept modeled on the rhetoric of gender differentiation provided by Risorgimento literature.15

The relations between Blasetti's cinema and Gentile's philosophical theories on historical continuity and national unity have been amply dis- cussed in other studies. The pertinent aspect of those relations, here, con- cerns the way in which Blasetti resorted to the Risorgimento ideals and iconography, via Gentile's theoretical fonnulations, for his own elabora- tion of modem Italian society. His vision of gender roles adopted Gentile's notion of sexual difference based, not on "natural" distinctions, but rather on a "concetto, unmod0 di pensare e quindi di sentire," which is devel- oped essentially on a moral plain and within the constructs provided by culture (Gentile 84). The individual, Gentile wrote, "solo in quanto sa quel che egh mediante la cultural acquista la coscienza di quel che deve essere, ossia del mondo morale che egh deve realizzare"(85). For Blasetti, cinema fostered such moral cohesion among its spectators. And for the promotion to be truly effective it had to rely on national iconography. Female iconography, in particular, promoted the affirmation of tradi- tional modalities of femininity, which played a signhcant part in the Italian fascist cinema's construction and cirmlation of a gender discourse on modemity.16

Blasetti's characterization of the female protagonist, Gesuzza, always presented as a daughter, wife, or mother, stripped of that modem notion of individuality that Gentile identified as part of a materialism and ration- alism foreign to the Italian essence, becomes part of Blasetti's attempt to formulate an Italian way of addressing the questions of modernity and of the social and cultural transformations that modem times had forcefully brought forth.17 The director's search for an authentic representation of 'Italianness' and Italian womanhood is conducted, however, primarily within the realm of myths. Myth, as Roland Barthes explains, is a synthesis of a concept already existing and historically reappropriated (Barthes 117- 19). By offering a mythical vision of the Risorgimento, Blasetti is not inventing anything but rather is reiterating a notion (of historical conti- nuity) that was pervasive in the fascist rhetoric of political legitimacy. Because myth " is speech stolen and restored and is defined not "by the object of its message but by the way in which it utters this message," Blasetti need only find new signhers for the expression of the Risorgi- mento 'sign;' Gesuzza as a motherly figure constitutes one of them (Barthes 125,109).

In 1860, Gesuzza along with the other nameless female figures of the film all reflect this one basic female prototype, the mother. Despite the fact that she is a newly wed woman (she has been married for only ten days), the female protagonist is essentially portrayed as a motherly figure.

Blasetti's 1860 397

At the very beginning of the film, she is introduced in a relational config- uration with different male figures: she is Canniniddu's wife, her father's daughter and her brother's older sister. The opening scene in which Gesuzza lies on the ground next to her husband and is awakened by her younger brother, Totuzzo, who remains with her when Canniniddu leaves, introduces Gesuzza's essential lack of individuality. Though she is supposed to be a patriot, her patriotism can be viewed only through her support to the male family members' heroic deeds. In respect to the dependent nature of Gesuzza, her young brother's brief appearance at the opening of the film has paramount sigruficance, because it constitutes the first reference to the motherly nature of the protagonist. The scene in which she embraces Totuzzo in fact foreshadows the tragic events that are about to unfold: the child will soon be killed by foreign mercenary soldiers and his death will mark the beginning of the cinematic repre- sentation of the human toll paid by the country for its claim of national independence. Like a mother who is about to lose her child, Gesuzza is framed in a sequence of close-ups with Michelangelesque evocations of human piety and sacrifice. The child disappears from the narrative, but her image as a sorrowful mother resonates throughout the film.

If one should describe the most frequent pose that the female protag- onist of 1860assumes throughout the film, it is safe to affirm that it is one of iconographic stillness. The frequent close-ups on Gesuzza's face and the fixed static images of the heroine elevate her to the status of icon. The evocative nature of the female character is supposed to elicit identifica- tion between spectator and protagonist. An example of this type of asso- ciation can be found in the scene when Canniniddu arrives in Civitavecchia and finds himself in French controlled temtory. The Sicilian patriot has just left Iris homeland, his mission for political action is still to be realized, and the future of a unified political Italy is alltoo uncertain. At this point, Blasetti offers an element of encouragement, of patriotic enthu- siasm to the Italian cause. The camera pans from the portrait of Napoleon 111 to one of Sofia of Bavaria and finally to a close-up of Gesuzza, who is in Sicily imprisoned by foreign mercenary soldiers. While the camera slowly makes its movement of association between French, German and Italian iconographic images, we hear in the background a male voice stating that French people appreciate female beauty. A French woman then adds that she is truly happy to be back on French territory.18 The panning from French to Italian territory (Sicily), from French to Italian feminine beauty suggests not only that such appreciation exists on Italian soil as well, but that Italians elevate their women to a higher status of admiration. They are granted the representation and respect given to imperial figures, such as Napoleon 111 and Sofia of Bavaria. Gesuzza, in spite of her humble social origin, isportrayed as an icon. Such admiration is substantiated by the following scene in which Gesuzza remains loyal to the patriotic cause and refuses to reveal the details of Carmine's mission.

The soldiers threaten to execute her along with the priest her father and all the other insurectionists, but she does not yield to the threats. Her beauty and loyalty are presented as part of that national pride and patrimony of values (i.e., family national unity, social and gender harmony) that Blasetti had allocated at the center of his reading of the Risorgimento History.

As all icons do, Gesuzza provides an image to be observed and admired. She is supposed to be inspiring by way of transcendence, and by bringing the viewers' attention toward a spiritually and morally higher plane of human though-the cultural and historical value of the Risorgimento ideals. Both Gesuzza's husband and father are Sicilian shepherds who fight against the Bourbons for the unification of Italy. Gesuzza as well is devoted to the national cause of liberation, but her active engagement in the fight is constrained by a constant reminder that her function is one of inspiration rather than execution of Risorgimento values. When Canni- niddu, her husband, leaves Sicily in order to join Garibaldi and his fol- lowers in Genoa, Gesuzza is not only forced to stay behind, but is also excluded from the process of political awareness to which Carminiddu is instead exposed and into which he is eventually idealistically integrated. Their separation becomes symbolic of the human and personal sadce endured by Risorgimento patriots, but while Canniniddu pursues the path of patriotic activism, Gesuzza stays behind (always standing literally a few inches behind her father or husband) waiting for the events to unfold.

This traditional portrayal of gender behavior is reinforced by the sub- sequent development of events. Carminiddu, in his wandering around Northern Italy acquires a political consciousness of personal responsi- bility to the cause that he did not have before leaving Sicily; Gesuzza, by virtue of remaining anchored to her initial location, will never gain such insights and, politically speaking, her character will always be infantile and necessarily dependent on male guidance. The infantilism of her char- acter is announced in the scene that precedes the final battle. Standing above Gesuzza, Carminiddu explains to her with a reassuring parental tone of voice the importance of joining all efforts, including the Sicilian one, in the fight for liberation. This dialogue replicates almost verbatim the content of a previous scene in which Colonel Carini patronizingly reproached Carminiddu's lack of patriotic responsibility (he was caught while abandoning the military campsite in order to visit his wife whom he had not seen for a month). Now the Sicilian patriot passes the lesson onto his wife, by virtue of hierarchical transmission of the patriotic message. Gesuzza diligently listens to him and, though she would rather forget about the battle that is about to take place, at the end she consents and enthusiastically embraces the national military cause. Her political fervor does not last long, however. She is soon taken away from the battle- ground, with an excuse she credulously believes, and is relegated to the background of the scene of the final military offense.

If Gesuzza cannot actively participate in the political struggle for lib- eration, she is afforded the role of inspirer to the fighters. In light of this definition of gender roles (active participant1 passive inspirer), Gesuzza is first and foremost an image, a myth, the exemplification of the films nar- rative promise to restore dignity and order to an Italy still obsessed with its national and international reputation. There is no real characterization of Gesuzza. Her character is not described, we know very little of her, of what she does, of what she thinks; despite the film's proto-neorealistic cinematic efforts she is neither a shepherdess nor a patriot but rather an evocative image of a supposed female Italianness. She is the incarnation of an idea; she is the carrier of a cultural myth, of a traditional Italy a signher emptied of its original denotative meaning and filled with the illusion- ary presence of the mother, a figure purposefully greater than all of the female characters put together. Like a cut-out figure, an icon, she isassumed to evoke and invoke the ideal of unification above all class, regional and gender differences.

This unitary all-encompassing vision is synthesized in the final battle scene by the image of Gesuzza as the mother of all Italians. Gesuzza is running in the battlefield stumbling over the bodies of slain patriots. She suddenly stops by a wounded soldier, whom she initially mistakes for Carminiddu. It is, instead, the body of a young Venetian soldier, last seen by the shore of Quarto near Genoa, as Garibaldi's expedition to Sicily was departing. That scene captured the dramatic farewell between the gadbaldini and their mothers and wives. Panning from one soldier to another, the camera pauses on the embrace of the Venetian soldier with his mother, a scene that is commented on by another patriot with words of praise for the sanctity of the Italian mothers who are giving up their children to the cause. The mother, here, all dressed in black and mournful for the depar- ture of her son, whose death we witness in the final scene, strongly resembles the historical figure of the most famous Risorgirnento widow, Adelaide Cairoli. The memory of the woman who had sacrificed her four children to the cause of Italian unification and who had rushed to the shores of Quarto to meet Garibaldi and bless her two children who were taking part in the expedition19 was still very much alive in the 1930s and 1940s, and Blasetti purposefully used it to add historical sigruficance to his portrayal of maternal sacrifice.

The theme of motherly love is presented as the common denominator of the initial and final scenes narrating Garibaldi's expedition to Sicily. It announces and synthesizes the heroism of those who fought for Italian political independence and its future as a nation. Blasetti chose to celebrate not individual but collective heroism. Garibaldi rarely appears in 1860 and his wife, Anita, an icon of Risorgimento female hagiography is mentioned twice. Her absence, however, is only apparent as Anita's name rings as a painful reminder of the perils and sacrifice endured by patriots who had to either leave their wives behind or lwse them. (Anita died in 1849 during Garibaldi's campaign against Austria near Ravenna.) Gesuzza stays behind, but her heroism is cinematically asserted through visions of motherly love. The climax of this representation is achieved at the end of the film, when the protagonist leans toward the wounded Venetian soldier who thinks she is his mother. At this moment, Gesuzza is invested with the sacred duties of motherhood. She represents not only the soldier's missing mother but the mother of all Italians, as the playing of the national anthem suggests. It is not Gesuzza the character (the Sicilian shepherdess) that the spectator is supposed to recognize in this scene but the ideal she incar- nates, the myth of national cultural heritage with which spectators were supposed to idenw. As the soldier dies, Canniniddu arrives screaming with joy that Italy has been made, while the camera pans across the battle- ground and over the bodies of dead soldiers. This final scene of heroic death culminates Blasetti's allegorical narrative on historical continuity, in which human sacrifice, personal and collective, is monumentalized and turned into a cinematic commemoration of the incipit of the Italian modern nation.20

For a film to be truly a national creation, Blasetti argued, it had to be "italiano nel contenuto, nello spirito, nelle conclusioni, oltre e piu che nei luogh~e nelle persone della vicenda" (146). In light of this basic tenet of the director's cinematography, Gesuzza, as a character, represents a concept, an idea of female Italianness, which is personified by different characters (the soldier's mother, the Sicilian shepherdess) and rendered by a single modality of maternal femininity. "Abbiamo fatto l'Italian concludes cheer- fully Carminiddu and the scene, suggestive of the famous motto pronounced by D'Azegho, seems to indicate that now "Bisogna fare gh italiani."21 That final embrace of Carminiddu and Gesuzza invokes a rebirth of Italy and arouses patriotic and sentimental responses from viewers, allured into a project of idealized national renovation via the historical legitimization of the Risorgirnento.


Princeton University


l~ee:Silvia Carlorosi, "'Politicizzazione dell'estetica' o 'estetizzazione della politica'? 1860 di Alessandro Blasetti," Italian Culture 18.2 (2000): 87-104; Jo Ann Cannon, "Blasetti's 1860 and the Construction of an Italian National Identity," Italian Culture

18.1 (2000): 141-54; Carlo Celli, "Alessandro Blasetti and the Representations of Fascism in the 1930's," Italian Culture 16.2 (1998): 99-109; Dalle Vacche, The Body in the Mirror 96-120, and also her "National Tradition in Blasetti's 1860"; Ruth Ben-Ghiat,

Blasetti's 1860 401

"Envisioning Modernity," and her latest work, Fascist Modernities: Italy 1922-1945 also published in Italian as La cultura fascists; Hill, '"The Art of History" 69-84, and her "A Family Resemblance?"

2~ora historical overview of nineteenth-century discussions on women's emancipa- tion, see: Eugenio G~M, "La questione femminile," Belfagor 7 (Gennaio, 1962): 1841; Franca Pieroni Bortolotti, Alle origini del movimento femminile in Italia 18484892; Michela De Giorgio, Le italiane dall'unitd a oggi (Roma: Laterza, 1992) 3-38.

3For an analysis of the conflict between traditional and modernist tendencies within fascist ideology, see De Grazia, How Fascism Ruled Women: Italy 1922-1945; Ruth Ben- Ghiat, Fascist Modernities; Barbara Spackman, Fascist Wrilities: Rhetoric, Ideology, and Fantasy in Italy (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996).

4~eeDe Grazia, How Fascism Ruled Women: Italy 1922-1945 (41-76); Re, "Fascist Theories of 'Woman' and the Construction of Gender."

5~n1950 Blasetti wrote: "'Messaggio' richiama il concetto di missione liberamente e nobilmente sposata per amore del prossimo, per meritorio atteggiamento umano verso gli uornini. Un regista che pensasse questo di d,o lasciasse gli altri pensarlo, farebbe ridere. La nostra professione si esercita necessariamente attraverso I'altoparlante destinato a milioni di uornini." A year later, he said in regard to the audience: "10 lavoro esclusiva- mente per il pubblico. Non penso che si debba pretendere che il pubblico arrivi a noi, ma sono dell'opinione che si debba scendere a lui. E mi spiego. Chi fa del cinematografo comunque ha avuto il privilegio di una educazione e di una cultura non wmuni, edu- cazione e cultura che non sono quelle del popolo. Pertanto, quando s'inizia un film bisogna fare atto d'umilth, non parlare il linguaggio del 'tra noi ci s'intende,' ma piuttosto quello che il pubblico potrh capire. . ..Voglio dire soltanto che il problema pih impor- tante sta nel 'che cosa' si dice al pubblico e che il second0 b di trovare i termini con cui dirlo," (Scrim' sul cinema 20849,214).

Marcus, "The Italian Body Politic is a Woman: Feminized National Identity in Postwar Italian Film."

'see Dalle Vacche who wrote: "In 1860 Blasetti fabricates images of the Risorgimento which might have looked real, or at least representative of the period, to an audience of the thirties. The ideological function of this film is to celebrate and promote the diffusion of patriotic values rather than any critical knowledge of 19th-century history. 1860 is a historical consciousness of the Fascist era looking back at the past and writing anew its own history," ("National Tradition in Blasetti's 1860" 75).

8~eeGemma Giovannini Magorio, Italiane benemerite (Mdano: Casa Editrice L.F. Cogliati, 1907); La donna nel Risorgimento nazwmle, ed. Giulia Cavallari Cantalamessa (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1893); Le donne a scuola: l'educazione femminile nell'ltalia dell'Ottocento (Mmba documentaria e icomgrafica), ed. naria Porciani (Firenze: Tipografia I1 sedicesimo, 1987); Donne d'ltalia: poetesse e scriftrici (Roma: Tosi, 1946).

9~n Cairoli, see: Maria Magni, Adelaide Cairoli (Torho: Societh Subalpina

~delaide Editrice, 1943); Gualberta Alaide Beccari, Ad Adelaide Cairoli le donne italiane (Padova: Premiata Tip. Alla Minerva, 1873); Eugenio Comba, Donne illustri italiane, proposte ad esempio alle giovinette (Torino: Paravia, 1872), Eroine, ispiratrici e donne d'eccezione, ed. Francesco Orestano (Roma: Tosi, 1946), Adelaide Cairoli e i suoifigli, ed. Erminia Ghiglione Giulietti (Pavia: Casa Editrice Renzo Cortina, 1960).

losee Caterina Franceschi Fermcci, Della educazione morale delle donne italiane (Torino: Unione Tipografico-Editrice, 1855); Giuliana Molini Colombini, Pensieri e lettere sulla educazione della donna in Italia (Pinerolo: Tipografia di Giuseppe Chiantore, 1860). These works were extremely popular and were reprinted several times. See Michela di Giorgio 10-13; Pieroni Bortolotti 31-32; Pastorini, L'educazione della donna nel pensiero delle pedagogiste italiane del secolo XLX.

llsee Gianpaolo Perugi, Educazione epolitica in Italia 1860-1900 (Torino: Loescher, 1978);Educazione a1 femminile: dalla paritd alla differem, ed. Emy Beseghl and Vittorio Telmon (Firenze: La Nuova Italia, 1992); Dina Bertoni Jovine, Storia dell'educazione popolare in Italia (Bari: Laterza, 1965); L'ernancipazione femminile in Italia, un secolo di discussioni (1861-1961) (Fiienze:La Nuova Italia, 1963).

121disagree with De Grazia's statement that women were excluded hm the nineteenth- century process of "nationalization," and "socialization" of the masses. On the contrary, it is through the policies and discussions related to female education that women are integrated in what De Grazia refers to as "the civic obligations, collective virtues, and personal values required for citizenship in nation-states." Women, like lower-class men, were not granted the right to vote until the twentieth century. As for women, the question of citizenship for lower-class men was not formulated in terms of legal rights, but rather of paternalistic con- cessions by way of gradual institutional reforms (schooling being one of them). See De Grazia 6.

13see S. Bernard Chandler, "La donna second0 i romantici italiani," OttolNovecento

19.6 (1995): 17742; Albert Sbragia, "The Sacrifice of Women in the Nineteenth- Century Italian Novel," Italiana 6, eds. V.J. T. DeMara and A. Tamburri (1994): 145-66. 14ugo Foscolo, "The Women of Italy," Edizione Natiomle delle Operedi Ugo Foscolo 17 (Firenze: Le Monnier, 1978): 471-562.

151n this regard, Gentile wrote: "La donna oggi non desidera pih i diritti per cui lot- tava; ma la donna si b elevata dinanzi all'uomo e dinanzi a se stessa per merito di quelle stesse polemiche che esasperavano in lei la coscienza della sua dignith morale e induce- van0 l'uomo al riconoscimento dell'alta missione che alla donna spetta nella famiglia e quindi nella societh," (82).

16see Ben Ghiat, "Envisioning Modernity: Desire and Discipline in the Italian Fascist Film" 113.

17~iovanniGentile also identified a foreign matrix, specifically French and Socialist, in the Italian feminist claim for gender equality. He wrote: "Ma al femminismo, che fu movimento di donne e di uomini perch6 comspondente a quella ideologia naturalistica che fu l'egalitarismo libertario della Rivoluzione francese e sello stesso socialism0 del secolo scorso . . . accadde quel che ai cercatori del tesoro nella parabola evangelica. I quali non trovarono il tesoro, che non esisteva; ma per cercarlo dissodarono la terra e ne fecero un tesoro per l'agricoltura. . ..Effetto benefico di quelle lotte femministe, ossia dell'interesse morale da esse suscitato intorno alla posizione sociale della donna, sono indubbiamente tutte le leggi degli ultimi decenni per la protezione della donna, a pro' della maternith e dell'infanzia," (82).

Blasetti's 1860 403

l%e dialogue between the two French speakers is the following: Male voice: "Vow savez Madame, now autres Francais nous sommes beaucoup plus sensibles au charme des femmes." Female voice: "Mon cher Lieutenant, je suis verairnent contente de me retrouver sul la terre de France."

l%s event is reported by Giuseppe Garibaldi in a letter to Miceli dated Settember 21,1869, quoted in Maria Magni 163-64.

2qn the original version of the film, this final scene was followed by another in which elderly garibaldini were seen together with fascist Black shirts -a scene that made all the more evident Blasetti's emphasis on the historical continuity between Risorgimento history and current national political identities.

21~ccording to Simonetta Soldani, the famous motto, "Fatta 1'Italia ora bisogna fare gli italiani," often quoted and historically attributed to Massimo D'Azeglio was actually pronounced by Ferdinand0 Marini. See Sirnonetta Soldani and Gabriele Turi, Fare gli Italiani (Bologna: I1 Mulino, 1993) 17.


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Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. New York: Noonday P, 1972.
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Film." Critical Inquiry 23.1 (1996): 109-44. -.Fascist Modernities: Italy 1922-1945. Berkeley: U of California P, 2001. -.La cultura fascists. Bologna: I1 Mulino, 2000.
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Dalle Vacche, Angela. The Body in the Mirror: Shapes of History in Italian Cinema. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1992. -."National Tradition in Blasetti's 1860." Film Criticism 9.1 (1984): 74-81. De Grazia, Victoria. How Fascism Ruled Women: Italy 1922-1945. Berkeley: U of California P, 1992. Di Giorgio, Michela. Le italiane dall'unitd a oggi: modelli culturali e comportamenti sociali. Bari: Laterza, 1993. Gentile, Giovanni. "La donna nella coscienza moderna." Preliminari a110 studio del fanciullo. Firenze: Sansoni, 1969.79-100. HiU, Sarah. "The Art of History: Picturing the Risorgimento in Blasetti's 1860." Pagina pellicola pratica: studi sul cinema italiano. Ed. Rebecca West. Ravenna: Longo, 2000.69-83. -."A Family Resemblance? The Image of the Italian Family in Blasetti's 1860." Italian Cultural Stwdies. Ed. Graziella Parati and Ben Lawton. Boca Raton, FL: Bordighera P, 2001.140-57. Johnston, Clair. "Women's Cinema as Counter-Cinema." Feminist Film Theory: A Readel: Ed. Sue Thornham. New York: New York UP, 1999.31-40. Landy, Marcia. Fascism in Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1993.

Manzoni, Alessandro. Tutte le Opere. Ed. Alberto Chiari and Fausto Ghisalberti. Milano: Mondadori, 1957.

Marcus, Millicent. "The Italian Body Politic Is a Woman: Feminized National Identity in Postwar Italian Film." Sparks and Seeds: Medieval Literature and Its Afterlife. Essays in Honor of John Freccero. Ed. Dana E. Stewarts and Alisno Cornish. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2000.329-47.

Mazzini, Giuseppe. L'amore e la missione della donna. Genova: Libreria Editrice, 1914. -.Su due Tombe: lettere adAdelaide Cairoli e ad Elisa Ferrari. Roma: Commissione Editrice, 1884. Pastorini, Grazietta. L'educazione della donna nel pensiero delle pedagoghe del secolo m.Pistoia: Tipografia Cino dei Fratelli Bracali, 1921. Pieroni Bortolotti, Franca. Alle origini del movimento fernminile in Italia 1848-1892. Torino: Giulio Einaudi Editore, 1963. Re, Lucia. "Fascist Theories of "Woman" and the Construction of Gender." Mothers of Invention: Women, Italian Fascism, and Culture. Ed. Robin Pickering-Iazzi. Minneapolis: Uof Mi~esota P, 1995.

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