Giorni di Gloria is the first documentary film on the Resistance and the anti-Fascist struggle. It is a collaboration among Giuseppe De Santis, Marcello Pagiliero, Luchino Visconti and Mario Serandrei, who served a editor and general supervisor. This episodic film is a celebration of the end of Fascism, of new-found freedom and an open invitation to join in the common effort to build a better future.
The film combines newsreel footage, documentary materials shot during the war and reconstructed episodes of the partisans’ struggle.
The documentary material and reconstructed partisan sequences recall the cinematic language of filmmakers under Fascism. The partisans in action or taking positions are presented in heroic postures. The sequences that celebrate the liberation of the Northern cities are shot in the style of LUCE documentaries. Alfonso Canziani [Gli anni del neorealismo (1977)] suggested that it marks the beginning of the rhetorical celebration of the Resistance.
Luchino Visconti had the good fortune to record the trial of Pietro Caruso, police chief of Rome during the German occupation, and his subsequent execution. The filming of the court proceedings demonstrates Visconti’s masterful ability to elaborate a news item into an arresting narrative episode. The tension of the moment is conveyed by alternating close-ups of the accused and long-shots of the crowd’s, the witnesses’ and the vicims’ relatives’ reactions. Visconti employs two cameras to play up the smallest details, such as an angry hand gesture or the wrinkles on the face of a screaming woman.
Filming the sequences on the exhumation of the bodies was taken over by Marcello Pagliero. Giuseppe De Santis filmed the third episode, on the nation’s rebuilding. The influence of Russian realist cinema is very strong. The train crossing a newly rebuilt bridge in the closing shot is the forerunner of the train in Caccia Tragica, De Santis’ first film, that will cross the plains of Emilia-Romagna, carrying the veterans of war.