How does R. J. B. Bosworth represent Italian fascism? Provide a short definition of fascism (a couple of sentences) that you think Bosworth would agree with. Can you see some parallels between the representation of fascism in Bosworth’s article and the impression of fascism we gain from Bertolucci’s film The Conformist? What specific scenes in The Conformist align with Bosworth’s analysis? Where do you see fundamental differences?
R. J. B. Bosworth represents Italian Fascism differently than the party’s leaders would have hoped. Bosworth argues that even though Fascism was able to rise to power in Italy, it did not maintain the totalitarian society the original leaders envisioned. First, the Fascist rise to power was riddled with corruption from many respected leaders. While the party threatened those who publicly opposed them, most Italians continued to operate as they had before fascism and provided for their families. The party leaders provided numerous hollow promises that never materialized, and would easily abandon ship. Overall, Italian Fascism was not the all-powerful regime it is sometimes described as.
The Conformist, tells the story of Marcello Clerici and his history with the fascist party. Many aspects of the film correlate with Bosworth’s view of Italian Fascism, most notably the elements of corruption, deceit, and selfishness. A scene that stuck out in the film was when Marcello went to confession. Marcello admits a bundle of things to the priest, most notably that he does not think highly of his wife but rather just craves the traditional marriage life. This can be connected to the high-ranking officials of the Fascist party. Bosworth spoke of the rapid corruption that plagued the party, and pointed out how most leaders only strived for personal gain. They would say or promise anything but it was completely baseless, they would only say it for convenience. Marcello promises vows to his wife, and leads her to believe it is real. These themes are also shown when Marcello allows Anna to be brutally murdered, and seems to be unaffected by the event.
However, not surprisingly, The Conformist has a strong theme of conformity caused by social pressure or social norms. This contradicts Bosworth’s account of the culture during this time period, as he argued that Italian culture remained unharmed. However, he did mention the threat of negative social pressure and physical if you openly denounced the Fascist party. Someone who went about their business without disruption remained comfortable and did not suffer during the Fascist reign. I felt the film portrayed the Fascist’s to have much more power and control over the Italian citizens. Marcello is compelled to join the regime throughout his life because of social pressure from his peers and certain events that altered his life. I also believe the film portrays the Fascists as much more violent, evil people than they were in Italy. The film gave me a sense...