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By Carlo Celli, Marga Cottino-Jones

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In 1932 filmmakers were invited by the Fascist regime to commemorate the decennale, the tenth anniversary of Mussolini’s accession to power with the 1922 March on Rome. The regime also commissioned an artistic exposition at the EUR (Roman Universal Exposition) set for 1940, which recalled the style and language of pre-WWI Futurist movement. 1). The narrative of this film has a debt to Alessandro Manzoni’s (1785–1873) Promessi sposi/The Betrothed, a Catholic novel about two young lovers, Renzo and Lucia, separated by foreign oppression on the eve of their wedding.

Sole was hailed as a rebirth for Italian cinema. The film focused on seemingly nonprofessional actors and popular themes, techniques that would become trademarks of the famed neorealist period in the 1940s. Blasetti’s career during the Fascist period is remarkable for its depth and variety. After his silent debut with Sole, Blasetti made Nerone (1930) a collection of the work of comedian Ettore Petrolini (1886–1936), which included the Bravo, grazie! ) routine featuring Petrolini as the Roman emperor Nero, which was actually a spoof on Mussolini.

23 Even though production in 1920 reached prewar levels with 371 feature films produced, the increased competition from Hollywood made retention of the former market share untenable. 24 This page intentionally left blank 2 The Fascist Years (1922–43) 1921 1922 1924 1925 1926 1928 1929 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 Founding of Italian Fascist Party and Italian Communist Party. Fascist March on Rome Victor Emanuel III invites Fascist leader Benito Mussolini to form a government as prime minister Giacomo Matteotti, Socialist parliamentarian, murdered by Fascists Secession of the Aventine, opposition parties abandon the parliamentary hall to protest Fascist policies.

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