The true story of the kidnap of Italian political leader Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades in 1978 is turned into a haunting, disturbing tone poem of s film.
Eschewing realism, or the obvious tense, linear approach, this focuses on the experience through the eyes of one the young kidnappers, and her ever growing doubts about the righteousness of the mission. But rather than express this literally, we see it emerge in dream sequences, and behind her eyes.
Beautifully shot, with a terrific use of classical and modern music (Pink Floyd shows up more than once) this quiet nightmare of a film is far more effecting and thought provoking than most political dramas. It does not miss the irony that Aldo was a humanist who was actually inviting the communist party to be part of the government.
A great cautionary truth based fable about the danger of giving yourself completely and unquestioningly to any ideology, left or right, religious or secular.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
largely speculative true life accountDec 23 2006
Roland E. Zwick
- Published on Amazon.com
On March 16, 1978, Aldo Moro, the Prime Minister of Italy, was kidnapped by a group of Communist revolutionaries known as the Red Brigade and held in captivity for 55 days. Through letters and photos sent by the kidnappers, the authorities learned that Moro had been given a "trial" by the Red Brigade and sentenced to death for his crimes against the proletariat of Italy - and, indeed, on May 9th of that year, his body was found, riddled with ten rounds of bullets, in the trunk of an abandoned car.
In "Good Morning, Night," writer/director Marco Bellochio takes the events and drains them of much of their sociopolitical significance, choosing instead to focus on the human drama at the story's core. Bellochio looks at the ambivalent feelings and conflicted motives underlying the kidnappers' actions, particularly in the case of an attractive young woman named Chiara (confidently played by Maya Sansa), who comes to question her commitment to "the cause" as the reality of what they are planning to do begins to sink in. It is largely through her eyes that we come to view the events and to see Moro less as an impersonal force to be manipulated for political purposes and more as a simple human being with all the fears, insecurities and desperate desire for life common to us all. Indeed, the political aspects stay largely in the background, relegated mainly to clips of stock footage showing us the principal players of the time dealing with the crisis.
With its dreamy visions, fantasy sequences, and tendency towards wild speculation, the film may frustrate those who would have preferred a more historically accurate, documentary-style approach to the topic. But Bellochio, as an artist, is less concerned with the "facts" of the case than with exploring the dilemma of the revolutionary's mindset. And to that end, he has done an exemplary job in "Good Morning, Night."
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
No Turning Back: Quiet and Intelligent Study of Human NatureOct. 23 2006
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`Good Morning, Night' is based on the kidnapping and killing of Aldo Moro in 1978 by a group Red Brigade. The film is, however, less about why (or how) the country's former prime minister was abducted and killed -- it avoids describing the atrocity itself - than a careful psychological study of four actual kidnappers, especially that of the only female member, who slowly realizes that she made a terrible mistake between her ideal and reality.
You don't need much knowledge on Italian political history to watch `Good Morning, Night.' It is about young librarian Chiara (Maya Sansa), who keeps Moro under lock and key during 55 days in a make-shift cell made in a small apartment room. The film depicts the whole events seen from the viewpoint of Chiara, who apparently undergoes a spiritual change through overhearing the conversations between Moro and other kidnappers.
Director Marco Bellocchio employs a unique approach to deal with this tough subject matter, which you may or may not like. He not only inserts the real news footages about the incident, but also the historical stock footages (like that of Stalin) in several key scenes. In making juxtapositions, some of which are disturbing, Bellocchio asks us the meaning of what they have done, and would have done.
But the most impressive and touching part is the film's detailed descriptions of the characters. During the film the terrorists are never seen using violence, but we know they killed (the prime minister and the bodyguards before that). Moro quietly asks them to send his letter to his family, and even to the Pope, and the kidnappers allow it. At one scene Chiara is found silently crying listening to the words of Moro's letter. Still we know that they are all doomed in a different way.
Maya Sansa plays a pivotal role in `Good Morning, Night' and her subdued acting as Chiara encompasses a wide range of emotions. She is simply amazing, one of the reasons you should see this film.
You can watch `Good Morning, Night' as political or historical drama, but it works better as examination of human nature which is tested under an unusual situation. It deals with Italian history, but the theme is universal and immediate.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Red BrigadeFeb. 19 2008
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This is a well done movie that deals with a disturbing bit of history from Italy's recent past, 1978 to be exact. It concerns the infamous Red Brigade, a group of Marxist terrorists who are bent on making change at any cost. In this case the kidnapping of the President, no less! Shocking as it may seem , they not only kidnapped him but also murdered him. The movie focuses on the people invloved in the plot and their roles, their individual moral compases and the collective spirit that moves people beyond their oridinary existences. Much of the movie utilizes the ordianry to make the extraordinary events come to life. President Moro's captivity and the less than daunting task of the terrorists job, to fit into society, unnoticed, carry on as though nothing is happening, is amazing. They are captives by their own doing. The veteran Italian director, Marco Bellocchio L' Ora di religione (Il sorriso di mia madre) creates a movie that is part documentary, intermingling actual time period footage, a study in human character, that is, human drama and a political thriller. Maya Sansa, Gasoline, who plays the female terrorist,Chiara, is a character that one almost(if not for her political act)feels sorry for as she is revealed to be a person caught in a web; she even questions the legitimacy of the groups motives and hence her own. In the end though, there is only one person deserving of symphathy and that is President Moro and his family.Since most of the action takes place in an apartment, that is serving as the cell for Moro and his captors, it becomes a little claustrophobic and uncomfortable to watch. This is a nice technique that makes for a real tense situation.The movie is as much a study in human behavior as it is a political thriller. This film should appeal to those who like an occasional dose of reality thrown into their movie watching. The film is in Italian with English subtitles. Recommended for foreign film aficionados.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Remarkable Depiction of a Perplexing CoupsAug. 15 2006
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Marco Bellocchio takes a lot of chances in his films, examining human behavior in the face of dissension whether political, moral, or emotional. In 'Buongiorno, notte' ('Good Morning, Night') he studies the infamous 1978 kidnapping of Aldo Moro in what would be a situation that would raise as many questions as it gave answers - and it is that quality that Bellocchio has captured in his film.
The facts of the Italian political current in 1978 may not be understood by the general viewer, but suffice it to say that the ruling political party Democrazia Cristiana was challenged by the Red Brigade, the underground terrorists who kidnapped and killed President Aldo Moro in a coups that was eventually destroyed by the reigning powers. That much of a plot is all that is necessary to know. The bulk of the film revolves around the lives of the kidnappers, especially the sole woman Chiara (Maya Sansa) who with her compatriots hid the President in a tiny room with the threat of death, but also were influenced by the writings and conversations with Moro. The whole question of revolution is under close inspection. The story mixes documentary shots with the cinematography in a tasteful way of showing us the elements of the kidnapping and the aftermath. It is the reaction of Chiara to these events and the questioning that can disrupt the political leanings of revolutionaries that makes this story so very meaningful.
The cast is superb: Maya Sansa, Pier Giorgio Bellocchio, Giovanni Calcagno, Luigi Lo Cascio and Paolo Briguglia as the kidnappers, and Roberto Herlitzka as Aldo Moro are convincing and human. The script does have holes in it where formation of ideas and acts and incidents are vague, but it almost seems as though that is the intention of Bellocchio. In political upheaval nothing is black and white if the events are related through individual's eyes rather that through the reaction of the mobs. And this is what makes the film so fine, if a bit hard to follow. Grady Harp, August 06
Christians 1, Commies 0June 23 2007
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Not to be flippant, but the Christian Democrats outshine the Red Brigade by quite a bit in this political dramatization of the kidnapping and murder of Italy's former prime minister in 1978. Highlight of the movie is the performance by Maya Sansa as Chiara, one of the kidnappers. She is a red because of what happened to her father at the hands of the government. Consequently Chiara is an emotional communist, not an ideological one; and so the up close and personal kidnapping, "trial," and eventual murder of the gentle and truly Christian Aldo Moro (played with strength and grace by Roberto Herlitzka) began to wear on her spirit, making her question what she is a part of--not, however, enough for her to do anything about it except in her dreams.
One of the reasons the Christians outshine the communists here (and elsewhere by the way) is that the communist ideology requires murders in the name of ideology whereas Christianity does not condone murder for any reason, although some Christians seem unaware of that. The movie includes the communist rationale for the murder, which Chiara, with tears in her eyes, cannot accept even though she hates the bourgeois who have run Italy since World War II. Incidentally the mini speech that one of the kidnappers gives to Chiara to justify the murder sounded a bit like something one might hear from Al Qaeda.
Maya Sansa is brilliant and her countenance captured my eyes, but I question whether she was the right person to play this role. Although strong and charismatic, she seems anything but the rabid revolutionary.
Director Marco Bellocchio's use of fantasy scenes was effective in that it highlighted the torn and nearly (nearly!)impossible desire of Chiara to free Moro. However the unlikely device of a co-worker at the library writing a screenplay called "Good Morning, Night" which depicts the events of the movie and the fictionalized kidnapping seemed a bit much. That he could divine these events just by knowing Chiara, as though channeling her, seemed almost mawkish in the face of the historical reality. But Bellocchio and Anna Laura Braghetti, who wrote the novel from which the movie was adapted, were perhaps inspired by an actual seance attended by some government officials who used a psychic medium in an effort to locate the kidnapper's hideout.
Clearly a plus was to see Christian values triumph over communist ones, and to see in retrospect a triumph for the good over the not so good. Moro died, but he died a hero and a respected man. His killers were disgraced and given (by American standards anyway) relatively lenient sentences, perhaps because they were so young. This is in keeping with the forgiveness that is at the heart of Christianity, allowing the Italian people to maintain the moral high road over what was then called the Red Menace.
But I have to be honest. I would have found this movie almost boring were it not for the presence of Maya Sansa. Bellocchio wisely focused the camera on her as often as possible. Her emotional experience, as revealed by her features and her voice, went a long way toward carrying the movie.