Alessandro Blasetti, La corona di ferro (1941)
Blasetti’s La corona di ferro is a fantasy-adventure film set in the imaginary land of Kindaor. King Sedemondo, who has just killed the rightful king Licinio (his brother) and usurped his throne, authorises a messenger bearing a fabulous iron crown to cross the kingdom. According to legend the crown stays wherever injustice and corruption prevail. Sedemondo also tries to kill Arminio, Licinio’s son, taking him to a gorge and leaving him alone with wild beasts. Arminio however survives and grows up in the forest, cared for by lions and other animals. Twenty years later Arminio, who has joined the rebels fighting against Sedemondo, returns and wins a tournament arranged by the usurper king to determine who will marry his daughter Elsa, who dies afterward. Arminio falls in love with Tundra, the daughter of a king who is Sedemondo’s enemy, and together they lead a successful popular rebellion against Sedemondo. Eventually, Arminio and Tundra get married and Arminio reassumes power in the finally peaceful Kindaor.
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With La corona di ferro, Blasetti crafted a fantasy film which critiques the violent usurpation of authority and prefigures the rise of a chosen ruler who can bring peace and prosperit. The metaphorical use of these themes has raised debate regarding the nature of the the film’s link with the Italy’s situation at that time. On the one hand, the film gives voice to a common desire among Italians for peace, since it was produced when Italy was fighting in the Second World War on the side of Nazi Germany. Moreover, the search for a charismatic leader who will restore a kingdom to its former glory seems to resonate with the extensive exaltation of Mussolini’s charismatic role in Fascist Italy.
However, such a conservative and pro-fascist interpretation sits alongside a completely different reading. By the early 1940s, Blasetti had become increasingly disillusioned with Fascism, and some critics have interpreted La corona as a veiled attack on the status quo. Accordingly, the tyrannical traits of the main character Sedemondo and his subsequent dethronement have been regarded as an indirect critique of Mussolini’s dictatorship. Even if this understanding may overestimate Blasetti’s actual intentions, the epic plot and the fantasy genre were certainly not completely in line with official propaganda, and they could be seen as diverting the audience’s attention away from content more adherent to Fascist ideology. Therefore, La corona di ferro may be read as a germinal form of resistance against the totalitarian machinery of consentbecause of its detachment from a rigid nationalistic and patriotic setting and unusual aesthetic as well as ethical implications.
Bondanella, Peter. 2009. A History of Italian Cinema. New York: Continuum International.
Gori, Gianfranco. 1984. Alessandro Blasetti. Florence: La Nuova Italia.
Landy, Marcia. 2000. Italian Film. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.