Good Morning, Night (2003)

“We are soldiers. Show some revolutionary spirit!”

‘Good Morning, Night’, directed by Marco Bellocchio in 2003, is an Italian film set in 1976. It tells the real story of the kidnapping of Aldo Moro, the former prime minister of Italy and leader of the Christian democracy party in Italy. The film is told from the perspective of Chiara, played by Maya Sansa, a member of the Red Brigade who have carried out the kidnapping but who is doubting the cause she has been fighting for. The group keep the politician locked in a small hidden room in their flat, and the more time that passes, the less effect their crime has on society. This results in a slow escalation of their plans from blackmail to contacting the Pope to deciding to murder Moro. The depiction of the former prime minister is as a martyr; framed throughout the film as a stoic intellectual. His captors, by contrast, seem desperate and directionless, Bellocchio focuses on their conversations but they seem futile and lacking in the intellectual weight of their captive. The centre of the film is Chiara, a character who manages to embody both the oppression of women and the disillusionment with extreme politics. Throughout the film, Bellocchio elects to use religious and occult imagery, romantic framing of characters, particularly Chiara, and occasional dream sequences that use documentary footage of the event to create a sense of disconnection. It’s a film the merges, both in its construction and in its story, the religious and the political, a condensation of the psychology of Italy, a country that contains a second country at its heart. It’s an unusual film. The dream imagery and the dips into Chiara’s imagination make it more than just a dramatised account of the kidnapping and turn it into a text that unpacks not only the events, but the national psyche that surrounded them.

Would I recommend it? Yes – it’s weird, mesmerising and politically profound. I’d watch in a double bill with ‘Cadaveri eccellenti’, another Italian film that merges the sacred with the political but is filmed in the year ‘Good Morning, Night’ is set.

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