Sog.: Augusto Genina, Alessandro De Stefani, Pietro Caporilli. Scen.: Augusto Genina, Alessandro De Stefani. F.: Jan Stallich, Francesco Izzarelli, Vincenzo Seratrice. M.: Fernando Tropea. Scgf.: Gastone Medin. Mus.: Antonio Veretti. Int.: Rafael Calvo (colonnello Moscardò), Maria Denis (Conchita Alvarez), Carlos Muñoz (Moscardò figlio), Mireille Balin (Carmen Herrera), Fosco Giachetti (capitano Vela), Andrea Checchi (Pedro), Aldo Fiorelli (Francisco), Silvio Bagolini (Paolo Montez), Carlo Tamberlani (capitano Vincenzo Alba), Guido Notari (maggiore Villanova). Prod.: Carlo Bassoli Jr., Renato Bassoli per Bassoli Film. Digibeta. D.: 112’. Bn.
There is an apparent anomaly in the choice of topic of the only two fiction films entirely dedicated to the war in Spain shot under the auspices of the Fasist regime: Edgar Neville’s Carmen fra i rossi (1939) and Augusto Genina’s L’assedio dell’Alcazar (1940). Both are Italian-Spanish co-productions shot in two versions for the different markets, and these versions are, for political reasons, significantly different. There is nothing new in this. The surprising thing is that the Italians played no part in the war that inspired the films. […] For in the delicate years of 1939-1940 the Duce decided to placate Franco so as not to lose his support and waste the enormous efforts expended in Spain. […]
L’assedio dell’Alcazar was thus a response to the propaganda demands of the moment. For his part, Genina ably negotiated the complicated knot of conflicting interests, including commercial ones, to produce a film which skilfully blends genres (comedy, melodrama, war film) and employs an aesthetic that at times resembles a documentary.
The story is a variation on the topos of the fort under siege […]. This allows the story to be draw on a set of values widely shared in Italy, even at a popular level: the defence of Catholicism threatened by a Bolshevik atheism. The diegesis is classical. A group of soldiers, including several cadets and an indeterminate number of Falangists, barricade themselves in the Hapsburg fort that towers over Toledo, ready to hold out even at the cost of their own lives in support of the revival of the traditional Spain incarnated by Franco. […]
The discourse is articulated, on a symbolic and ideological level, in a binary fashion with the first (positive) term being associated with the leaders of the coup: discipline/chaos, nobility/vulgarity, homeland/Bolshevism, faith/atheism. The characters evidence a similar slippage: the rebels are characterised by respectability and courage, while the defenders of the legitimate government are marked by scruffiness and cowardice – with a slight concession to the soldiers on both sides as far as dignity is concerned.
The film did not only appeal to the public and the critics, who awarded it the Mussolini Cup at Venice, but also to the Ministry of Popular Culture which, after Italy joined the war, embodied Mussolini’s point-of-view more than ever.
Daniela Aronica, “Quaderni del CSCI”, n. 12, 2016