Sarah Patricia Hill, “Downcast Eyes: Selective Blindness, Disability Disavowal and the Spectre of Fascist Masculinity in the Commedia all’italiana”

Abstract: Cinema traditionally casts characters with disabilities or visible physical differences as signifiers of social and moral alterity to aspirational models of individual and national identity, as seen in a wide range of films made in Italy in the decades following the fall of Fascism and the end of World War II. Yet the presence of anti-normative bodies on screen can also help expose dominant narratives that paper over difficult memories of a painful collective past. This is not only true for films that specifically address Italy’s Fascist past but also for commedia all’italiana films focused on contemporary narratives of economic progress and social mobility. Examining a number of these films, this article argues that they employ the reality or threat of disability or difference to embody a troubled post-Fascist masculinity that is itself a representation of traumatic legacies.
Key Words: historical memory of Fascism, Italian cinema, disability, masculinity, Commedia all’italiana.