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Mussolini, the First Fascist

Benito Mussolini seized power in Italy in October 1922, after his March on Rome. He would hold it in his grasp until his death in 1945, establishing a dictatorship that lasted more than two decades.


Long considered a buffoon and a second-rate dictator, Il Duce invented fascism that was imitated by Adolf Hitler, who viewed the Italian as his political master. Mussolini wanted to transform his country into a warrior nation and promised Italians a return to the grandeur of the Roman Empire. Helped by business circles who wanted to do away with the Left, and wanting to please, he met an undeniable success for several years, both in Italy and abroad. He governed by violence and trickery and was one of the first populist leaders of modern times, leading his country into the catastrophe of the Second World War. 


Who was Benito Mussolini, this former teacher who came from the extreme left to become a newspaper editor and creator of the Italian Fascist Party? Why did he ally himself with Adolf Hitler? Were the Italian people really behind him? With rare archives, some of which have been colorized, and interviews with the last-surviving witnesses of the era, along with perspectives from historian Marie-Anne Matard-Bonucci, this portrait takes a look back at one of the most notorious dictators of the 20th century, and one of the least known.

  • Episode 1: Rise to Power
  • Episode 2: The Fall of a Dictator

Direction: Serge de Sampigny

Production: Histodoc for France Télévisions

Languages: French, English

awards & festivals

  • FIGRA 2023

    Official Selection

see also