The Luce-Ufa Cinematic Axis

At the end of the 1920s, the German film giant Universum Film A.-G. (Ufa) established an industrial alliance with the Italian Istituto Nazionale Luce: signed in 1928, the agreement provided for the exchange of footages for the respective newsreels, within the framework of a consolidation of political-propaganda action in both the countries. The ‘pact of steel’ between Luce and Ufa was reaffirmed in 1933. In that year, Third Reich propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels went to Rome, where he met Luigi Freddi, then responsible for the propaganda of the Fascist regime, and explained to him the functioning of the Reichsfilmkammer. Goebbels’ criteria for the political reorganization of German cinematography were taken as a model by the Fascist intellectuals, so much so to be enthusiastically commented in the regime’s cultural journals.

The first result of the Luce-Ufa collaboration was the documentary Lo stormo atlantico (1931), dedicated to the transoceanic flight by a team of seaplanes headed by Italo Balbo. Shot by camera operator Mario Craveri, the film was sent to Germany to be synchronized with the Tobis-Klangfilm system. The soundtrack, upon which we well dwell for the purpose of this paper, was therefore edited independently in the Ufa studios.

The pact of steel between Fascist and Nazi cinematic industries consolidated at the outbreak of the World War II. There were two main areas of collaboration: (1) the co-production of documentary films on the progress of the war, between 1940 and 1941, and (2) the establishment of a newsreel, La Settimana Europea, the Italian translation of the Deutsche Wochenschau, during the Republic of Salò.

The Other ‘Pact of Steel’: The Luce-Ufa Cinematic Axis
Free paper at the International Conference “Music and Conflict: Politics and Escapism of Wartime Culture”.
Institute of Austrian and German Music Research
University of Surrey, 19-20 May 2023