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By Giuliano Imperatore, a cura di Jacques Fontaine, Carlo Prato e Arnaldo Marcone

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They are replaced, however, by a particular resurrection of the historical epic. 22 While both the early cycle and the traditional historical genre focus on the organization of bodies in fictive spaces, the former focuses on the body as site of performance and the latter on the gathering of multiple bodies for the production of mass spectacles. What is crucial to underline is that the reappearance of the epic form takes place at the same time that fascism resolves internal contradictions within the party and defi nitively consolidates its control over Italian government.

In certain ways, the only significant intertextual difference from Hollywood is that the departure and the return in these fi lms are achieved through the fictive evocation of the state’s real organization of tourism. Since Italian audiences of this period were also likely participants in that nontextual tourism, I will suggest that this particular overlay of texts and social practices is a potentially fertile ground for oppositional readings. In the case of Treno popolare (Rafaello Materazzo, 1933), for example, the state could subsidize leisure-time travel but might not have been able to restrict all playful (and particularly sexual) behaviors.

On the one hand, national politics began to be informed by the presence of civic groups that had previously been defined by their very cultural differences not only from one another, but also from any unitary conception of italianicity. On the other hand, participation in elections is one example of how a sense of “nationality,” above and beyond regional or city identities, was apprehended by communities that had previously defi ned themselves as northern or southern, Tuscan or Sicilian, Roman or Venetian.

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