Prod.: Savoia Film  35mm. L.: 100 m. D.: 5’ a 16 f/s. Imbibito, pochoir / Tinted, Stencil.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

“Tripoli, beautiful land of love…” is how the refrain of A Tripoli! begins, a song of propaganda written by the journalist Giovanni Corvino of “La Stampa” in the wake of the 1911 Italo-Turkish war. The Italian government’s decision to send a military envoy and take over the Turkish territory of Tripolitania was met with general, overall enthusiasm. The conviction that the colonial conquest would legitimate Italy as a world power, the idea that territories abroad could absorb growing emigration, the illusion that control of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica would become the passport to a greater influence over the trade routes of the Mediterranean were a few of the debatable geo-political reasons propelling nearly all the political parties and movements to demand (nationalists first of all) or at least support the reckless enterprise. With the unanimous consent of the institutions, there is no question that the Libyan expedition was approved of by the majority of Italians, conditioned by a massive, pro-armed intervention propaganda campaign that used traditional instruments of political information (press, speeches, conferences, posters…) as well as every other means of communication capable of engaging public opinion emotionally. 1911 was the ideal year for a media campaign of this kind: the lavish commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Unification of Italy and the nationalist celebrations of the Risorgimento battles were the perfect stage for promoting a new military enterprise. The special rhetorical emphasis placed on the Risorgimento by newspapers and consumer publications was reused to support the African expedition, and film would play an important part in the manipulation of the collective Italian imagination. Between 1911 and 1912 all the important Italian production studios undertook to validate the reasons for the military intervention by producing various types of films that all more or less explicitly supported the war underway. In a few cases, reference to the war’s events were direct: films like Raggio di luce (Episodio della presa di Tripoli) (Cines, 1911) or Due volte colpito nel cuore (episodio della guerra italo-turca) (Vesuvio Films, 1912), L’eroica fanciulla di Derna (Vesuvio Films, 1912) were set in the theater of war, paid tribute to the heroism and courage of the Italian soldiers and criticized the oppression and crimes of the Turkish enemy. Moreover, the Italian film industry did not fail to emphasize the cruelty of the Ottomans, making films about historical events that demonstrated the eternal conflict between the Christian West and the Turkish Empire: films like I cavalieri di Rodi (Ambrosio 1912), Hussein il pirata (Vesuvio Films, 1912), Gulnara (Una storia dell’indipendenza greca 1820-1830) (Ambrosio 1911). When later on in the conflict several Arab tribes of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica began to support the Turkish army, the idea of justifying the war as an inevitable epilogue of an ancestral clash of civilizations solidified even further. In support of this perspective were explicitly racist films such as Infamia araba (Cines, 1912), which demonized Arab and Muslim culture and depicted Italian colonization as the dutiful exportation of progress and Christianity: Enrico Guazzoni’s La Gerusalemme liberata (Cines, 1911), which anticipated Italy’s entry into war by a few months, was certainly influenced by this climate. The propaganda campaign in favour of the war involved all classes of society and every age range. To this end, the national film industry disseminated war themes also through the genre of comedy and children’s films: in 1912 cinema posters featured titles like Cocciutelli in guerra (Milano Films, 1912), Le medaglie di Bidoni (Cines, 1912), Pik Nik odia il turco (Aquila Films, 1912), Pik Nik vuole andare a Tripoli (Aquila Films, 1912) or Guerra italo turca tra scugnizzi napoletani (Film Dora, 1912). The production of nationalist films set in Tripolitania did not come to a halt with the end of the Italo-Turkish conflict, officially established in October 1912 when Turkey gave up its claim on the contested territory; in fact, the peace treaty did not stop the armed resistance of the local population, especially the inhabitants of Cyrenaica, opposed to the Italian occupation. The enduring state of hostility, which hardened during the First World War, would become the pretext for other films set in the colony that were openly antagonistic towards the local rebel population; titles of this kind include: Il tricolore (Film Dora, 1913), Il bacio della gloria (F.A.I., 1913), Negli artigli del Pascià (1914) and Il sogno patriottico di Cinessino (Cines, 1915). If fictional war films were decisive for building popular consent for the war, documentary films made in the war zone by a few Italian production companies would become increasingly important in this direction. In October 1911 Cines began the production of a series of documentaries, 150 m. each, which were distributed weekly to theaters in order to informer moviegoers about the latest events of the military campaign. Reassuring images scientifically studied to tranquilize the soldiers’ families back home. In addition to the infinite correspondence filmed by Cines (over 80 films) between 1911 and 1912, dozens of documentaries about war events were also made by Ambrosio of Turin, by Itala Film, by Giovanni Pettine’s company and Luca Comerio of Milan, one of the most active cameraman in the war zone. Italians responded with rabid enthusiasm to the screenings of these films, which often became occasions for wild, noisy demonstrations of patriotic pride: the public cheering, railing against the hated Turk and chanting the tune in vogue at the moment: “Tripoli, beautiful land of love…… Tripoli, enchanted land, you will become Italian with the rumbling of cannons!”
Giovanni Lasi

Copy From