“Vincere” Charts Il Duce’s Love Life
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
My wife’s grandmother came over from Italy. She barely spoke English. She wisely left before Mussolini took over the Mediterranean boot country, allying it with Hitler.
Benito Mussolini (1883 – 1945) is considered one of the founders of Fascism. He became the 40th Prime Minister of Italy in 1922 and began using the title Il Duce by 1925. He led Italy into World War II on the side of the Axis. In April 1945,
Mussolini was captured and executed by Italian partisans.
As you’ll discover, he had a largely unknown history before rising to power as the leader of the Italian Socialist Republic. Turns out, he was married to a woman named Ida Dalsar and had a child by her, a fact he later tried to conceal.
“Vincere” – now playing at the Tropic Cinema – recounts these beginnings of Mussolini’s political career and his turbulent relationship with Ida.
Written and directed by Marco Bellocchio, the film focuses on Ida Dalsar She was a beautician who met the young union activist on a train and began a passionate affair with him. They married and had a son named Benito Albino.
As Mussolini’s political aspirations grew, she sold all her possessions to finance his newspaper, Il Popolo d’Italia. This venture helped plant the seeds of Fascism.
Ida’s generosity was rewarded with scorn. Mussolini mistreated her, tried to hide their marriage, and locked her and his son away in an insane asylum. That allowed Il Duce to wed his new lover, Rachele Guidi.
As portrayed by Giovanno Mezzogiorno, Ida is not mad – merely madly in love. Filippo Timi plays Mussolini as a cad. And Michela Cescon gives us a woman who callously usurps Ida’s rightful place in history.
Marco Bellocchio based his screenplay on two books, “Mussolini’s Marriage” and “Mussolini’s Secret Child.”
The cinematography by Daniele Cipri is notable, black-and-white newsreels footage intermixed with chiaroscuro scenes and bright lights and muted colors. The style is operatic, replete with violent thunderstorms and energetic speeches.
The take-away? As Benito Mussolini seduces and badly uses Ida, so he does the Italian people.
I checked my wife’s Italian dictionary. “Vincere” means to win, to gain, or to conquer. In this true-life story, no one wins.
[from Solares Hill]