The patriotic death of a child

La piccola vedetta lombarda
R: Vittorio Rossi Pianelli. B: Edmondo De Amicis (story). K: Giacomo Farò. D: Vittorio Petrugaro, Telemaco Ruggeri, Antonio Monti. P: Film Artistica Gloria (Torino). It 1915
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema

“The story of La piccola vedetta lombarda / The Little Lookout from Lombardy takes place during the Risorgimento, after the battle of Solferino in 1859. Italian soldiers ask an orphan boy from Lombardy (Luigino Petrangaro, sic!) to spy on the Austrian enemy troops. First he climbs on a roof and when that is too low, he spies from a high tree.
Despite the officer (Antonio Monti) asking him to come down, the boy stays too long in the tree and he is shot down by enemy fire. The soldiers pay their respects to his patriotic death, each passing his corps draped in the flag to honor him. And there he slept in the grass, draped in his flag, his face white, smiling, as if he was happy to have given his life for Lombardy.”
European Film Star Postcards

“Gloria [i.e the production company] adapted several stories from Edmondo De Amicis’ popular book ‘Cuore’ about the life of nine boys in a school class in the city of Turin. (…)
For a long time the story of La piccola vedetta lombarda was considered as fiction. But author Edmondo de Amicis based in 1886 his story on a historical incident with the orphan Giovanni Minoli (1847-1859). In 2009 historians Fabrizio Bernini and Daniele Salerno have completed and published a meticulous reconstruction of the facts, based on archival documents of the time, which confirms the real existence of Giovanni Minoli and his tragic end.
There are some variations between fact and fiction. In the novel and the film, the boy dies almost immediately while in reality he died after a few months suffering in a hospital. The tree in which he climbed is in the story an ash tree while in reality it was a poplar. This poplar still exists.”
Paul van Yperen’s Blog (goodreads)

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