One day in April, 1926, three years into Benito Mussolini’s fascist rule of Italy, he was making a speech to a crowd of supporters in Rome when a woman stepped
One day in April, 1926, three years into Benito Mussolini’s fascist rule of Italy, he was making a speech to a crowd of supporters in Rome when a woman stepped out of the crowd, produced a pistol, and shot him at point-blank range. Mussolini’s head turned as she did so, and the bullet grazed his nose. She fired again, but the gun jammed.
The woman was Violet Gibson, born in Dalkey and raised in aristocratic splendor on Merrion Square, Dublin, daughter of the Lord Chancellor. Gibson came the closest to success of the four assassination attempts on Mussolini. She was a committed antifascist, had intensively studied Mussolini’s movements, and clearly had some kind of help in her assassination attempt.
After being returned to England to avoid a public trail in Italy, Gibson spent the rest of life in St. Andrews Hospital in Northampton, the same hospital James Joyce’s daughter would later be committed to and died in 1956. Violet Gibson was written off as a lone “madwoman”, committed to an asylum for the rest of her life, and effectively written out of history.
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Directors: Barrie Dowdall, Kevin de la Isla O’Neill | Writers: Barrie Dowdall, Kevin de la Isla O'Neill, Siobhan Lynam | Key Cast: Olwen Fouéré, Padraig Cullen, Michael Heavy, Siobhan Lynam, Laura Kelly | Cinematography: Jass Foley | Editing: Kevin de la Isla O’Neill | Music: Sarah Caitriona Lynch | 2020 | 117 mins
- “One woman’s willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the world.”
- “If a man had done this, there’d probably be a statue of him.”
- "Violet Gibson was someone who was very brave to do what she did, and between her and Benito Mussolini, and all the things he did, who was really mad?"
- February 24, 2021 - BBC Article
In this informative documentary, one of the observers in the film notes that on the edge of history in our times there are small threads of entry, that allow for s better perspective of the larger picture. Violet Gibson was born into Irish aristocracy during the last decades of Queen Victoria. She was raised as a debutante, but her unconventional ideas would place her right in the middle of the rise of fascism in Italy, straight into the path of Benito Mussolini.
Written and directed by Barrie Dowdall and Kevin de la Isla O’Neill, the documentary uses archival footage, history observers and actor recreations – with Olwen Fouéré as Violet Gibson – to tell the story of the unlikely interventionist, who ended up in various asylums after her date with history in essence to bury her righteousness. Guided by various experts about Gibson’s life, and the sure performance of Fouéré as her difficult spirit, this small thread of entry looms much larger.
The journey of Violet Gibson is a fascinating examination of how life can turn on a dime, based on how consciousness drives our beliefs, and in Violet’s case how those delusions momentarily interact with world-influencing history.
Patrick McDonald from hollywoodchicago.com, WBGR-FM, WSSR-FM