Transformations of fascist imperialism: Greece from Le soldatesse (1965) to Mediterraneo (1991) | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2047-7368
  • E-ISSN: 2047-7376



The article demonstrates the power of sociopolitical and cultural contexts that dictated the interpretations of fascist imperialism in the two most important films dealing with the wartime occupation of Greece. Analysis of both films is positioned in relation to the history of the wartime occupation, when Italian soldiers were moved by racist assumptions, rejected Greek culture and willingly perpetrated crimes against the Greek people. From war’s end to the early 1960s, official memory of brutal fascist imperialism had been obscured by a powerful myth that the Italian people had been good anti-fascists and sympathetic victims during World War II. But events of the early 1960s created a political crisis that demanded re-evaluation of the power and dangers posed by Italian fascism. The article explores the means by which Valerio Zurlini’s 1965 Le soldatesse/The Camp Followers attempted to awaken national memory of imperial exploitation and inspire in audiences both a powerful collective guilt and consciousness of the urgent necessity to combat neo-fascism. The article also exposes the influence of the sexual revolution on this film’s depiction of consensual heterosexual sex as the primary mechanism for peaceful Italo–Greek relations. It was this sensual approach to empire and not the anti-neo-fascist political mission that tied The Camp Followers to Gabriele Salvatores’ 1991 Mediterraneo. Inspired by the new political apathy and consumer culture of the 1980s and early 1990s, Mediterraneo created an imaginary fascist empire devoid of racism and the ideological commitments that divided Italian from Greek. The new film created the possibility of an Italian imperialism defined by leisure, an alteration of history that could only seem reasonable in a world redefined by sensual consumerism. The stark differences between these two films’ depictions of Italians in the fascist empire reflects a larger transformation of Italian national identity.


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