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Anni difficili 1948
Description: Aldo Piscitello, a minor government clerk, is forced in 1934 to join the Fascist party. When the fight comes, he finds himself able only to talk ineffectually in secret vs Mussolini, even as his own son Giovanni is sent into battle. By the end of the war, Aldo has found the courage to stand up for his beliefs, but by then it is too late.
Released: 21 Aug 1950 Director: Luigi Zampa Writers: Vitaliano Brancati (novel), Arthur Miller (English narrative only), Sergio Amidei, Vitaliano Brancati (screenplay), Franco Evangelisti, Enrico Fulchignoni Actors: Umberto Spadaro, Ave Ninchi, Delia Scala, Massimo Girotti Genres: Drama, War
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Anni difficili Reviews:

In a time when the revision of the newest past produce more innocuous works as Sotto Il Sole di Roma by Renato Castellani, Zampa directed this bitter and lucid parable focus on folks that, like the main character, have been to maintain the hard equilibrium between public and personal interests in an authoritarian society. What seems at start a light chronicle marked by a nostalgic and precocious maudlin feeling, like the one show in Castellani's movie, quickly becomes a narrative politically audacious, something relatively rare on neo-realist films, and with a notorious relative absence of Manichaeism. The film shows, for example, how opportunistic were most of the old fascists, actually very close mate of Americans after the bankruptcy of Fascism. But the same isn't so various for the shy resistance old guys that usually meets clandestinely at the pharmacy. The owner of the same (Aldo Silvani) was murdered by the fascist after an emotional explosion between a Mussolini's rally. His prison and death, however, were far from our eyes and far of the grandiose and heroic tone showed in movies like the classic "Roma, Cittá Apertá" (1945). The Sympathy with the American troops wasn't shared by the own movie and even in the fictional globe it seems much more a fruit of opportunism than sincere. Filmed in a conventional way, this film create an interesting test of archive photos between fictional ones, something very common nowadays but probably an original tactic then. The narrative is framed not only by a voice over throughout the film, far from being excessive intrusive, but by newspaper headlines, radio comments and even one of the hundreds of propaganda short films produced by LUCE, the educative fascist institution. At least one moment archive photos weren't inserted in diegesis but an obvious comment of the own narrator that supports to illustrate the time passing. Perhaps one of the most necessary elements of the movie is to be car for many things repressed all those years of fascism on Italian society (and its films of course), showing a human face under the appearances. This is particularly real for the moment of Giovanni (Massimo Girotti) reclaiming about the excessive times he heard or tell "Signor Si", a type of military subordination salute very famous those days, at the Army, and equally very show on fight movies of that time directed by names as Roberto Rossellini, Alessandro Blasetti or Augusto Genina. This film anticipates in an necessary way, the political satire vein that would be very disseminated not only in Italian cinema of the next decades.


Anni Difficili is a very funny comedy about Fascism. The hard years from 1934 to the end of WW2, are seen through the eyes of Aldo Piscitello, father of four and local government employee, played with a bewildered, hang-dog humanity by Umberto Spadaro. Piscitello has somehow failed to join the Fascist Party and if he wants to hold his job he's going to have to do something about that. The anti-logic of his corrupt superiors demands it. He's not keen, but his Leftist mates at the pharmacist can offer no helpful advice, so reluctantly he joins up and unenthusiastically puts on the ridiculously saggy uniform and carries out his fresh duties as a member of the Fascist Party – mostly involving marching. So starts a series of moral compromises viewed vs a background of escalating militarism and war.Piscitello's son Giovanni (played by the awesomely chiselled Massimo Girotti) returns from military service to search his father in his fresh uniform. All Giovani wants to do is receive out of uniform, marry the pharmacist's daughter and set up home, but he is later named up for the invasion of Abyssinia and then goes from battlefront to battlefront for the remainder of these hard years. As time goes by Piscitello sees that his moral compromises are keeping his son at fight and away from his wife and child. Wouldn't it be better to protest vs Fascism and go to prison if important he asks the Leftists at the pharmacy? But, they are hopelessly divided and fearful, and spend their time listening to Radio London and revelling in Italian military defeats. It's not simple to go vs the grain however. The entire community gathers to cheer the speeches of Mussolini, Piscitello's wife is thankful the trains run on time, his daughter is enthusiastically teaching Fascist ideology in school, and the twin sons have joined a Fascist youth organisation. To start with all this is viewed with an amused irony by Zampa and his screenwriter, the novelist Brancati, but as the movie proceeds, and Italy staggers from crisis to crisis, the humour becomes increasingly dark and bitter. Zampa and Brancati are determined that Italy faces up to its newest past. All society is culpable and is subjected to their withering comic gaze. Giovanni and his wife, Maria, remain curiously untainted by Fascism, albeit increasingly worn down and traumatised by fight and separation. Girotti in particular is a taut and pale centre of gravity, his increasingly tragic presence a counter-point to the humour. There are no laughs at Giovanni and Maria's expense.Anni Difficili was released in 1948 and gotta have been uncomfortable viewing for audiences of the time. It's a strong movie today, a perfectly judged mix of fun, satirical ire and loss.



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