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24 August1964
The funeral of Togliatti
Sauro Ravaglia
"L'internazionale" - reworked by Michele Manzolini

​​'Palmiro Togliatti is dead' so reads the poster posted in the street filmed at the beginning of this film. It shows a photographic portrait of Togliatti with a reassuring and hopeful smile. On 24 August 1964, Migliore's funeral is held in Rome. And L'Unità headlined in large letters on its front page: 'WE WERE A MILLION to bid him a final farewell'. Among the many who rushed to the capital was Sauro Ravaglia with his 8mm camera. The news of the end of the Communist Party secretary had caught him a few days earlier in Algeria (where we found him in the 11 August film). The loss of that smile that for millions of militant communists is worth more than a pope's blessing certainly throws them into despondency and causes a sense of bewilderment. However, the filmed trip to the Eternal City still retains the flavour of a trip to Rome, probably for some of Ravaglia's group it is their first visit. But the tourist images of the Colosseum soon give way to the huge procession, filmed by those in it and introduced by another headline: 'Tonight for the last time Togliatti in San Giovanni.' And it was there, in the square of so many rallies, that the funeral took place, which would later be transfigured into an icon by the painter Renato Guttuso in a painting reproducing a view 'from above' and incorporating the symbols and leading figures of communism. Here, however, Togliatti's funeral is seen, experienced and filmed from the street. There is no distance, one is projected into the procession: the faces and bodies of the people parading and holding hands are fleetingly visible, amidst the clenched fists and red flags in black and white. And of all of them, the camera lingers on the face of a gentleman lost in the crowd who bears the image of Togliatti on his hat. Brushstrokes of 8mm so spontaneous and emotional that no headline of the Unità or important painting can equal them.