This film is part of Free

Crisis in Italy

The Italian Communist Party in 1948 : a force for progress and reform or the last refuge of a desperate population and a threat to the rest of Europe?

Documentary 1948 17 mins


From the Fiat factory workers in the industrial north, to peasants ploughing the fields in the rural south, many Italians in 1948 were hungry, desperate and tempted by the promises of Communism. Seen through the eyes of Time-Life correspondent Emmett Hughes and adhering to March of Time’s strongly anti-Soviet editorial line, this fascinating film locates Italy as the new centre of the Cold War and shows Alcide de Gaspari’s Christian Democrats struggling to hold onto power.

Newsreel historian Raymond Fielding pointed out that sometimes the films in The March of TIme series functioned as a ‘cinematic Rorschach test’, with ‘partisan viewers and politically inclined critics’ reading whatever they liked into the releases: with the result that a film such as ‘Inside Nazi Germany’ was praised by some as anti-Nazi filmmaking at its finest and denounced by others as Fascist propaganda. This film is a case in point: the commentary maintains an anti-Soviet line but the images of the Fiat factory in Turin, the communal restaurant in Milan and the shots of striking workers being beaten by soldiers, suggests an implicit sympathy with the work being done by the Italian Communist Party.