Ben Building: Mussolini, Monuments and Modernism full movie review - Uninformative and Self-Adoring Documentary
Architectural critic Jonathan Meades tours Italy looking for examples of Mussolini's architecture. Some of the relics are true concrete monstrosities; others invoke images of the past, especially from the Baroque era.
Although firmly convinced of his godlike status, Mussolini was culturally ill-educated; many of his products veer between austere modernism and archaic neo-classicism, evoking past glories of the classical and medieval periods.
Basically that was all that Frank Hays's production had to say throughout its 90-minute running time. To fill up the space, we had Meades embarking on a long (and theoretically suspect) disquisition about the nature of fascism and what it truly signified, plus some tricksy shots showing the presenter moving among some toy soldiers, or showing his ample torso superimposed on exterior shots of some of the buildings he wanted to analyze.
In narrative terms, this documentary did not really get anywhere: Meades seemed far more interested in denouncing Mussolini as a dictator with little or no knowledge of how to hold on to power. Unlike Hitler or Stalin, he lacked the political know-how to eliminate his opponents and appeal to the people. This is certainly a view, but Meades wanted to ram it home to the viewers at every possible opportunity.