Good Morning, Night

Good Morning, Night (Italy, director Marco Bellocchio): Buongiorno, Notte (its Italian title) is a quietly powerful film exploring the events surrounding the 1978 kidnapping (and eventual assassination) of former prime minister (and leader of the powerful Christian Democrat party) Aldo Moro by the Communist-inspired Red Brigades. The irony is that Moro had just played an instrumental role in forming a coalition government in which the Communist Party were going to participate for the first time in Italian history.

We follow events through the eyes of Chiara, a young “revolutionary” who begins to have doubts about her participation. Moro, though held for almost two months, never seems to have lost his humanity or his inner freedom. In contrast, the terrorists seem isolated from the outside world, from each other, and even from themselves in the claustrophobic apartment that has become as much their prison as Moro’s.

This is not an “action” movie. It is more contemplative, and there is a real sense of sadness, despair, and wasted life that pervades every frame. The use of actual television footage from the newscasts of the time add authenticity and bring home the fact that this is recent history. The only weakness, in my opinion, are the many scenes of Chiara dreaming of different outcomes (her poisoning her comrades, Moro walking out free). I am glad the scenes are in the film, but it is sometimes difficult to determine when she is dreaming, imagining, or actually experiencing certain events.

Overall, a powerful and humane exploration of a dark moment in Italy’s history. Bellocchio doesn’t dwell on the many conspiracy theories that are still swirling about who was responsible for the murder. Instead, he makes a film that celebrates the value of life, and mourns its waste.


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