The rise of Benito Mussolini and the birth of Italian fascism is set to be dramatized in a new series ordered by Comcast-owned Sky and unveiled by Sky Studios CEO Cécile Frot-Coutaz in her MIPTV keynote on Tuesday.
M. Son of the Century, based on the international bestselling book by Antonio Scurati, is being produced by Lorezno Mieli for the Fremantle-owned The Apartment Pictures, in collaboration with Pathé.
The eight-part series will cover the period from the founding of the Fasci Italiani organization in 1919 through to Mussolini’s infamous speech in parliament following the murder of socialist member of parliament Giacomo Matteotti in 1925. The show will also provide viewers with an insight into Mussolini and his personal relationships, including with his wife Rachele, his lover Margherita Sarfatti and with other iconic figures from the time. Like the novel, the series will tell the history of a country that surrendered to dictatorship and the story of a man who was able to rise from the ashes time and again.
Written by Stefano Bises (Gomorrah, The New Pope, ZeroZeroZero) in collaboration with Davide Serino (1992, 1993, Il Re, Esterno Notte), M. Son of the Century promises to tell the events with historical accuracy, with every event, character, dialog and speech documented or witnessed by multiple sources.
“Antonio Scurati’s book is an unprecedented work in Italian literature, in terms of boldness, originality and accuracy,” said Nils Hartmann, Sky Studio’s executive vp for Germany and Italy. “Producing a TV series based on this work is an opportunity we could not pass up. With the partnership and creativity of The Apartment team we are diving right into the thrilling material of this story, to bring Sky customers a truly unique original series on the rise and fall of a man and the historical legacy that our country, and the world, have yet to come to terms with.”
Filming on M. Son of the Century will begin in 2023, with the series set to be shown on Sky and its streaming service NOW in all Sky markets across Europe. Fremantle will handle international sales.
Lorenzo Mieli, CEO of The Apartment Pictures, connected the story of Il Duce with several of today’s political leaders.
“In recent years, we have witnessed the birth of new forms of populism, sovereignty and authoritarianism. Traces of the man who made the March on Rome a hundred years ago can be found in many figures of the times in which we live. Even more so now that Europe has once again become a theater of war,” he said. “M recounts the perverse mechanisms of empathy and violence, of manipulation and modernity that swept Italy a century ago. And shortly afterwards the world. It is an extraordinarily contemporary tale, but also a journey into the boundless ambitions, seductive capacities, relationships and fears of a man who made a large part of the Italian people fall in love with him and then dragged them into an abyss. In which, in the end, he himself found death.”
Since first published by Bompiani in 2018, Scurati’s novel has been translated for publication into 46 countries, sold more than 600,000 copies worldwide, won the Premio Strega, Italy’s most prestigious literary award, and is published today by HarperCollins in the United States.
“M depicts – for the first time from the inside – the rise of the fascist dictatorship and the sinister power of the dictator, Benito Mussolini,” said Scurati. “A theme of tragic relevance. I am happy that a series will extend the literary project. We need stories that awaken the passion for freedom. The struggle between democracy and dictatorship is not over.”