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Cultural memory against institutionalised amnesia: the Togliatti amnesty and Antonioni’s I vinti

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 June 2018

Abstract

This article studies post-war Italy’s forgetful attitude towards its Fascist past by interpreting a political measure, the Togliatti amnesty (1946), and 1950s film censorship as ‘institutionalised forms of (…) amnesia’ (Ricoeur 2004, 452). The amnesty, which erased the Fascists’ legal responsibility for war and political crimes, represented the first act of oblivion of the Republican political establishment, embodying a forgetful mindset that influenced Italian culture through institutional instruments like film censorship. In 1950s Italy, censorship acted as a further form of institutionalised amnesia aimed at erasing from films the traces of the compromising continuity between the Fascist past and the democratic present. The story of the making and unmaking of the Italian episode of I vinti by Michelangelo Antonioni is a meaningful example of this dynamic. Producers and government commissioners censored the plot and changed it from a story about a neo-fascist militant to one about a young bourgeois who smuggles cigarettes. However, Antonioni resisted the institutional imposition to forget by choosing locations where the material dimension of the landscape still embodied the Fascist legacy of the country.

Italian summary

L’articolo studia come, nell’Italia del secondo dopoguerra, si diffuse la tendenza a dimenticare il passato fascista, interpretando l’amnistia Togliatti (1946) e la censura cinematografica dei primi anni ’50 come ‘forme istituzionalizzate di (…) amnesia’ (Ricoeur 2004, 452). L’amnistia, che perdonò i crimini di molti ex-collaboratori fascisti, rappresentò la prima manifestazione di una tendenza a dimenticare propria della classe politica dell’epoca, tendenza che influenzò la cultura italiana attraverso mezzi istituzionali come la censura cinematografica. Negli anni ’50, la censura rappresenta un’ulteriore forma istituzionalizzata di amnesia mirante a cancellare dai film le tracce della compromettente continuità tra passato fascista e presente democratico. La storia della produzione dell’episodio italiano di I vinti di Michelangelo Antonioni è un esempio significativo di questa dinamica. I produttori e i commissari governativi ne censurarono la trama iniziale, riguardante un militante neo-fascista, e la trasformarono nella storia di un giovane borghese che contrabbanda sigarette. Eppure, nonostante tali rifacimenti, Antonioni si oppose all’imposizione istituzionale a dimenticare scegliendo e filmando luoghi dove la dimensione materiale del paesaggio costituisce ancora un ritratto dell’eredità fascista del paese.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2018 Association for the Study of Modern Italy 

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