Madri d’Italia: Film and Fascist Concern with Motherhood

  • Lesley Caldwell
Part of the University of Reading European and International Studies book series (UREIS)


This chapter examines Madri d’Italia [Mothers of Italy] (LUCE, 1935), a silent documentary made for the para-state organisation, the Opera Nazionale Maternità e Infanzia [National Institute for Mother and Child Welfare] (ONMI), on the occasion of its tenth anniversary. The film demonstrates the fascist regime’s concern with motherhood, and it reveals the contradictions that marked this concern, which was increasingly orchestrated throughout the thirties in a number of institutional initiatives and in a sustained propaganda campaign. Madri highlights these activities but also incorporates a set of ambiguities in relation to its subject. It was made in 1935, when dissatisfaction with the first phase of the demographic campaign was directing attention to a more systematic and consolidated second phase, in a state already dedicated to overt pronatalism. This film, therefore, is an initiative that replicates and carries forward policies also being implemented elsewhere. Through a combination of images and intertitles, it constructs and disseminates dominant understandings of what being a mother entails and how this is understood, conceived, and valued by the fascist regime. The film draws upon and illustrates an ambiguity present in many accounts of mothering: its status both as women’s natural destiny and means of fulfilment, and as a responsibility: a task that has to be learned if it is to be carried out properly. As a documentary made for a particular state organisation this is a film with a message.


Rural Woman Educational Film Fascist Regime Peasant Woman Wedding Ring 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Zygmunt G. Barański and Shirley W. Vinall 1991

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  • Lesley Caldwell

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