12 September 2002 | dbdumonteil
Fascism stifles creativity.Both German and Italian cinemas of the 1935-1939 era could not produce one single masterpiece.Had they had an Eisenstein,there could have been an "Alexandre Nevski" ,a contemporary movie of Scipione.Both movies are propaganda movies,but it's hard to consider Gallone's movie a work of art.
"Scipione l'Africano" is some kind of breviary of the ideology of the Mussolini years:personality cult(Scipione's boldness against the senate's listlessness), a huge -and this is an euphemism - misogyny (Scipione's wife who briefly appears is relegated to the mother's role,baby in arms,par excellence the woman's raison d'être;on the other hand,the wicked queen Sofonisbe who dabbles in politics is even slagged of by her husband:"when she entered my life,wisdom walked away") and a blatant over-simplification:the Romans are noble,they treat their prisoners with great consideration while Hannibal and his clique are lecherous brutes.
Strangely,the movies leaves little room to anecdote:only a bland couple,both the cruel barbarians' prisoners is featured outside the historical characters.The actors 'playing recalls the silent movies,almost ten years after "the jazz singer"!The final scenes are admittedly spectacular but they have been dwarfed by the great epics of the late fifties/early sixties.
NB:"Cartagine in fiamme" (1960) by the same director is neither a sequel nor an improvement.