A Year on the High Plateau / Many Wars Ago
Un Anno sull’Altipiano, translated as A Year on the High Plateau, is a book written by Italian soldier, politician and writer Emilio Lussu. The story is strictly related to Lussu’s experience of trench warfare as he himself fought as a complementary officer of the Sassari Infantry Brigate on the Asiago Plateau in 1916, against the Austrian troops.
Emilio Lussu, whose political activism during the 20s was spent on the defense of democracy, then physically attacked and arrested during the fascism era, had to publish his novel in Paris in 1938 to narrate the atrocities that he experienced.
During his experience, Emilio Lussu fought bravely for the whole war though he raised strong critics against military commands. On WWI, Italy had almost 700.000 deads: military generals who couldn’t realize their mistakes badly led their troops due to lack of preparation of merely arrogance, or even were too ruthless and too determined to scarify thousands of lives to conquer a bit of territory.
This inadequacy, brought rebellions an mutinies along the soldiers who started to recognize their generals as their own enemy, thought any try was fiercely repressed.
The vanity of rhetoric patriotism, ridiculous battles, tragic or even grotesque episodes are narrated the soldier’s feeling, the mistakes and inhumanity of war.
Even if Lussu’s works was usually red and questioned thought his political tendencies and experience, it is the personal level that better tells how his opinions about war changed. By the moral and philosophical point of view, Lussu’s books tell a story of regrets, having been previously an interventista (favourable to entering the war) and a revolutionary (in Giustizia e Libertà); his works soberly describe what war, in its cruellest moments, was like for him: repulsive and disappointed. The novel, is now considered on the of the most important contributions of Italian literature regarding wars.
A movie based on the book, was released in 1970 and directed by Francesco Rosi, named Uomini Contro / Many Wars Ago. Stylistically, the movie follows the current of politicized post-realism, of whom he was one one the central figures.
The movie, overtly pacifist, reminds of Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory for the argument, settings and thematics showing the instill of war. Sadly, as soon as the movie was released, the director was denounced with the accuse of vilification of the army (but later absolved), leading to a national case where political parties used the movie rhetorically for their own propaganda. The movie was at the time then boycotted, but succeeded in becoming a classic of antimilitarism and influencing the public opinion about the results of World War I. Rediscovered and in 2015, the movies was screened at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in honor of Francesco Rosi, deceased a few weeks before, finally received its deserved credits.