ISSN: 2241-6692

Controlling the social power of cinema in postwar Italy: The case of the “forbidden film” L’armata s’agapo

Chiara Boatti


Published in the magazine Cinema Nuovo in February 1953, L'armata s'agapò consists of a proposal for a "forbidden film” on the Italian occupation of Greece in the years 1941-43. Adopting a critical stance on the past, Renzo Renzi presented the occupation in an anti-heroic key, referring, among other episodes, to those concerning the relations of the Italian militias with Greek women, or the frequenting of brothels. Renzi as author and Guido Aristarco as editor of the magazine were arrested and tried on charges of insulting the Armed Forces, by the Military Court of Milan, which considered both still members of the army, albeit on leave. The matter had wide resonance in the press of the time, involving issues such as civil and press freedoms and the inadequacy of the codes, and saw many state institutions involved. Starting from the trial, this article places it in relation to the context of interactions between institutions and cinema in post-World War II Italy. There will be a retracing of the link the case had with administrative censorship, called into question by the “forbidden” nature of the film, as part of a complex network of control over the social power of cinema.

Keywords: crime of contempt, film censorship, film criticism, l’armata s’agapò, state and cinema institutions