Award winning actor Antonio Banderas stars in this gripping tale of the deadly rise of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. ... more » Rising quickly from within the ranks of the socialist party, Mussolini secured local chief of the Italian Socialist Party at a young age, where he developed his secure instinct for power and his talent for intrigue as he played off various sections of the left against each other. His dangerous rise to power ultimately played out against the backdrop of World War I, and gave rise to a new fighting government-Fascism. While the pacifists in the party pressed for neutrality, Mussolini turned his back on his deal and allowed himself to be bought by the Conservative government. The former anti-war campaigner turned opportunist revoked his opposition to the war and suddenly found himself on his own-and at the brink of collapse....« less
A Five Hour Epic Graced with Superb Acting and Historical Re
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1993 Gianluigi Calderone directed this biography of Benito Mussolini (script by Vincenzo Cerami and Mimmo Rafele) as a three-part television series, wisely electing to engage one Antonio Banderas, fresh from his triumph in the film 'Philadelphia' in the States, to tackle the legend of one of the treacherous leaders of Italy in the first half of the 20th century. The DVD is now available in a 2-disc format, which allows the viewer to watch Parts I, II, and III on separate evenings. It is a beautifully captured bit of history and Banderas proves his considerable acting chops in a role that spans the entire spectrum of emotional response.
The film opens when Mussolini, at age 19, was disenchanted with being a schoolteacher and instead focused on womanizing and the plight of the workers in Italy. A man of astounding power of verbal presentation and conviction, he managed to seduce not only nearly every woman who crossed his path but also the multifactioned working class, a mass of frustrated and abused workers who jumped from promise to cause to new hero with regularity in an attempt to change the sad situation of class struggle in Italy.
Mussolini (Banderas) manages to court the interest of Angelika Balabanoff (Susanne Lothar), a Russian Socialist with hard rules and concepts of her own but also a woman who could foresee Mussolini's growing importance as a leader of social reform. The story unwinds at a fine pace, pausing to reveal the tender side of the man with his marriage to his childhood sweetheart Rachele (Claudia Koll), his challenges to attack his education further through the influence of another lover, med student Eleanora (Anna Geislerová), as well as through his ruthless manner through his confrontations with Manzoni (Jan Novotny), Bissolati (Eduard Kolar), his rise to power by becoming the editor of Milan's influential Avanti! newspaper, and his leadership of the Italian Socialist Party. But power gets a strangle hold on him and he develops the cruel Fascismo Party, and with that turns all of his supporters against him in his revolution that started for the working class into a sellout to the landowners, from his initial stance of pacifism of revolution to his active engagement in the World Wars.
Banderas does a fine job of allowing us to see all sides of Mussolini: this is not a cardboard cutout but a man with multi-dimensional characteristics. The superb cast includes German, Spanish, Italian, and Czech Republic actors and therein lies a bit of a problem. While the acting is excellent, it appears that each of the actors is peaking in his own tongue, that the final version released on DVD is dubbed in Italian and/or English with English subtitles. But the dialogue is so fast-paced, filled with vibrantly important information that the viewer rarely gets to look at the mouths of the actors to see who is speaking what - so it doesn't distract from the brilliance of the film.
The cinematography and set design and costuming are all excellent as is the wondrous musical score by Nicola Piovani. It would help to be more informed about Italian political history to fully enjoy this spectacle, but the epic does provide a fine condensation of years of world politics and the rise of Socialism that allows us to understand that strange era far better. Watching BENITO requires an investment of time, but for this viewer the investment is well worth the effort and the subsequent pleasure. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, August 06 "
The Early Years
M. A. Ramos | Florida USA | 11/11/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Movie title is very misleading. This movie covers a short span of Benito Mussolini's life. Starting when he was a schoolteacher at the age of 19. And ending when he gets control of his own daily paper, which occurs during W.W. I. This actually took me by surprise since the movie is over 5 hours long and its title indicates that we will see his entire life. This movie is also dubbed, and not well at that.
Now the part of Mussolini's life that is depicted gives us a view of what he was like in his twenties as he gained power in the socialist movement. All you will see is how he maneuvered himself through the political intricacies of this movement in order to gain power, his volatile personality and his womanizing. If you expect to see anything more then this, do not watch this movie.
On the positive side, and the reason I gave it three stars, is that the wonderful sets and wardrobe were true to the period. And the acting was well done. "
T. Tyler | 09/05/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Although a remarkable, detailing of Mussolini's early life, it's just that - about his early life. From the product's advertising, subtitle & artwork, one expects he or she is getting to see a complete life; in fact, however, the viewer sees a long and lengthy life only to WWI. We don't see his joining the war, rise to power over Italy, and his actual Fall. Shame on the producers and promoters of this film."
Mussolini: Rise and Snore
S. Glaser | Manning, SC USA | 04/08/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Mussolini; we all know who this man is. Antonio Banderas stars in this 5-hour flick about the rise of Mussolini. Now, the title is misleading, there is no fall nor much of a close rise, infact, we get Mussolini's start and personally attempts to portray EVERYTHING about him. Really, Banderas is wasted, the movie is wasted, even the $5 you pay plus tax is utterly WASTED! And why? Because the title will lure unsuspecting movie-goers into a 5-hour sleep-fest. I would give more stars if it just said, "The RISE". It must've taken 5 seconds after a quick peek at the script for the creators to say, "Wow, this is going to be awesome."
The good news is that the acting was fair, though it isn't saying too much. Better to skip this fest and if you really want it, you will probably enjoy Mussolini when it is over."
Beautifully acted talking head movie
SteamaZon | 09/28/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Beautifully acted talking head movie. We have varied scenes of Benito and his friends discussing socialism in pastures, convention halls, train platforms, newspaper press rooms and even in a Turkish bath. Amazingly, in the short five hours of this dialogue spanning several years of Benito's early life, they even managed to sqEEEEze in a couple of love scenes. The sub plot of Angelica, on again off again non-relationship with Benito kept the movie riveting.
I give it 5 stars, exept minus one for NO TIGER TANKS as depicted on the cover, minus another star for NO HE 111 Bomber fleets also depicted on the cover, less another star for NO INVASION OF ETHIOPIA with GAS and those kludged together but interesting looking Italian tanks and finally lose yet one more star for no COMMANDO RESCUE by Otto Skorzeny."