Scen.: Gabriele D’Autilia, Luca Giuliani, Roland Sejko. M.: Luca Onorati. Mus.: Riccardo Giagni. Voci narranti: Massimo Wertmüller, Lucio Saccone. Filmati e foto di repertorio: NARA – National Archives and Records Administration, Library of Congress, Archivio Storico Luce, Collezioni Museo Nazionale del Cinema di Torino, Imperial War Museum, ECPAD – Établissement de Communication et de Production Audiovisuelle de la Défense. Prod.: Maura Cosenza per Istituto Luce Cinecittà, con il sostegno della Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri. DCP. D.: 51’. Bn.
1917 is a decisive year for Italy and for Europe. The years of war have worn down all the forces doing battle, without any of them prevailing. That stalemate is broken by the intervention, in support of the Entente Powers, of President Wilson of the United States, who declares war on Germany in April of that year. The American contingent, which the following year will amount to two million men, is deployed exclusively on the exhausted Western Front, with no direct military engagement foreseen in Italy. Only in the late spring of 1918 does Congress decide to support the Italian Allies by sending in the 332rd Infantry Regiment from Ohio, a few thousand men who more than anything else have the task of offering moral support to the by now disheartened Italian soldiers, through the employment of the most modern weapons of communication and propaganda.
Starting out from a research project carried out in collaboration with the Cineteca del Friuli on rare and extraordinary archival footage owned by NARA and the Library of Congress, the documentary focuses on this crucial moment of the conflict by giving us the American point of view. Through the voices of a variety of observers, military personnel and journalists (including Ernest Hemingway, Antonio Gramsci and the great director David W. Griffith), we relive the daily life of war: the violence that manifests itself not only in military actions and the nightmare of the trenches, but also in the pain of a horse sinking in the snow or in the lost look on a soldier’s face; the festive launch of a ship and Venice in its suspended state, at once beautiful yet surreal. Above all, it is the story of a war ‘staged’ and ‘reconstructed’ by way of the instruments and symbols of propaganda – posters, flags, impeccable uniforms, clean and reassuring faces, music, bars, the continuous changing of clothes to depict a greater number of soldiers. And the first systematic appearance of a new and irreplaceable protagonist: the motion picture camera.