Good Morning, Night

Director: Marco Bellocchio

Italy| 2003. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 105 min.

Numerous ?lmmakers have attempted to dramatise the terrorist activity that gripped Italy in the 1970s, but few have done so with the unsettling power of director Marco Bellocchio’s Good Morning, Night. Recounting the kidnapping and eventual murder of Italian prime minister Aldo Moro by Red Brigade activists in 1978, this brooding drama intelligently explores the nature of imprisonment, the failure of radical ideology and the possibility of diversity of intention and individual action even within extremist groups.
The opening shows what appears to be a young married couple, Chiara (Maya Sansa) and Ernesto (the director’s son, Pier Giorgio Bellocchio) being shown a large Rome apartment. While Chiara looks over the courtyard, Ernesto discreetly takes measurements of a small room in the back. Hidden behind a wall of bookshelves, the room becomes a cell where Moro (Robert Herlitzka) is imprisoned for 55 days prior to his assassination.
The events are seen mainly through the eyes of Chiara in a haze of reality and ghostly dreams, re?ecting on parallels in political history and on her late father’s death ?ghting Fascists with World War II partisans. She lives a schizophrenic existence, holding down a government job for cover during the day with a colleague who appears to see beneath her composed exterior. The latter writes a screenplay—titled Good Morning, Night, after the Emily Dickinson poem—which outlines a remarkably similar kidnapping.
Bellocchio drew inspiration for his screenplay from Moro’s writings and often extremely moving letters to family as well as from the book The Prisoner, co-written by former Red Brigade member Anna Laura Braghetti, clearly the basis for Chiara. While the political background may be a little obscure for non-Italians, the key points emerge: that Moro became a scapegoat: his Christian Democrat party and the Vatican basically refused to negotiate with the Red Brigade for his release.

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