Marco Elter, Le scarpe al sole (1936)
Marco Elter fought in the First World War in the ranks of the Alpini: in adapting the novel Le scarpe al sole by Paolo Monelli, he crafted a film which exalted Italian values during the War. The plot of Le scarpe al sole plot deals with the conscription of three friends (Bepo, Durigan, and Toni) who live in the same village in the Alps and who are called up to defend the northern border of Italy. Durigan, an African returnee, dies while he is defending its birthplace.
The Sacralisation of the New Man’s Total Politics through the Arts
Shaping the New Man’s Reality by Fashioning National Myths
Monumentalism: Visualising Subjectivity and Objectivity
Le scarpe al sole juxtaposes some recurring elements of Fascist film production by using a peculiar familiar register. The friendly relationship among the main characters before their enlistment turns up in the exaltation of military comradeship which is fashioned in a pure and unsophisticated narrative guise. The very first part of the movie is a paean to peasant lifestyle and values, with the camera highlighting a joyful marriage, the beautiful alpine landscape, and the authenticity of peasant values. War does not change such an atmosphere insofar as the protagonists’ conscription is portrayed as a quasi-cheerful moment in which young people coming from every region of Italy joke and build meaningful friendships. The war thus becomes the perfect crucible in which to forge a new national spirit imbued with Fascist values. Marco Elter puts his emphasis on the celebration of the three main characters’ actions, who are ready to die for their country. The scenes of military assaults, retreats, life in the trenches, the brave resistance and the final victory are the background for the heroism of the protagonists Durigan, Bepo, and Toni; Duringan, who has returned from a long period in Africa and is neither married nor engaged, gives his life to defend its country. As he has no family to look after, his final sacrifice is portrayed as acceptable, and the experience he gained in Africa (in 1896, when Italy unsuccessfully invaded Ethiopia) allows him to stand as the embodiment of Fascist courage and values
The last sequences portray an unbridled joy pervading the main characters’ village, with Italian flags flying and bells ringing. The return of the soldiers to their homes allows them to bring the new awareness and virtues they have gained in their wartime experience into their everyday lives, and stands as the purifying moment ushering the radical fascistization of both the individual and social spheres.
Carabba, Claudio. 1974. Il cinema del ventennio nero. Florence: Vallecchi.
Gentile, Emilio. 1996. Le origini dell’ideologia fascista 1918 – 1925. Bologna: il Mulino.
Mosse, George L. 1996. Il fascismo, verso una teoria generale. Rome-Bari: Laterza.