Nostalgics, Thugs and Psycho-killers: Neo-fascists in Contemporary Italian Cinema
journal contributionposted on 15.09.2020 by Alfio Leotta
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Neo-fascism played a crucial role in the Italian political panorama of the second half of the twentieth century. However, despite its importance, this political movement has been significantly underrepresented in contemporary Italian cinema. Italian cinema has been traditionally characterized by a strong political commitment and left-wing film-makers have often attempted to examine issues emerging from within groups close to their own political position. While Italian cinema is characterized by a proliferation of films that focus on left wing or communist heroes, neo-fascists have been systematically excluded from screen representation or confined to the roles of one-dimensional villains: either dangerous, anti-social thugs like in Teste rasate/Skinheads (Fragasso, 1993); leaders of coup d’état associated with the military like in La polizia ringrazia/Execution Squad (Vanzina, 1972) and Vogliamo i Colonnelli/We Want the Colonels (Monicelli, 1973)or vicious psycho-killers like in San Babila ore 20: Delitto inutile/San Babila 8pm (Lizzani, 1976). However, today, twenty years after 1989 and the collapse of ideologies, Italian film-makers have started a process of historical revision that goes beyond the simplistic opposition good versus evil. This tendency is particularly apparent in recent productions such as Romanzo Criminale/Crime Novel (Placido, 2005) and particularly Mio fratello è figlio unico/My Brother Is an Only Child (Luchetti, 2007) which, while avoiding to justify or celebrate neo-fascist ideology, attempt to explore the sociocultural motivations that lie behind the political choice of Italian neo-fascists.