Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime held power in Italy from 1922 to 1943. The main message of The March on Rome is that his defeat did not mean the end of fascism as an influential movement. The film begins with a clip from a 2016 interview with former US president Donald Trump. When asked why he tweeted a quote from Mussolini (“It’s better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep”), Trump appears to be barely aware of who Mussolini was.
The film then shows how Mussolini used intimidation and violence to seize power. Director Mark Cousins’ analysis of the fascist film A Noi! also points to the key role played by propaganda. Despite being built on lie upon lie, this 1923 pseudo-documentary about the March on Rome—the event that brought Mussolini to power—gave fascism a mythical sheen.
The March on Rome shows just how seductive these lies were, in staged scenes with actor Alba Rohrwacher playing a woman who firmly believes in fascism, and learns too late about the true consequences of this ideology. The closing shots draw a direct link between fascism and our time.
Nominated for Beeld en Geluid IDFA ReFrame Award