Good Morning Night

Movie Review by Lisa Henshall

Starring: Maya Sansa, Luigi Lo Cascio, Roberto Herlitzka, Pier Giorgio Bellocchio
Director: Marco Bellocchio

Bellocchio’s film is a disquieting version of the events surrounding the 1978 real-life kidnap and murder of the former Italian Prime Minister, Aldo Moro (Roberto Herlitzka), by 4 members of the terrorist group the Red Brigade. The group hope to use Moro as a bargaining tool to force their extreme Marxist views onto the political agenda, but their plan backfires when it becomes obvious that the government has no intention of bargaining with the terrorists, even if it means Moro’s death.

The plot focuses on Chiara (Maya Sansa), an idealistic young woman who works in the city Library, maintaining an air of normality to the outside world but inside, passionate about the revolutionary utopia that the group are striving for. Bellocchio hasn’t made a factually accurate film (he only briefly met with one of the Red Brigade while writing the script) but he merely uses the events to explore the failure of radical ideology through Chiara’s reality and dreams. In creating a relationship between the quiet, dignified Moro and his kidnappers, without expressing sympathy with the terrorists themselves, Bellocchio creates an allegory for the death of the socialist dream.

Events in the film are frequently inter-cut with actual news footage of the time to give it a ‘feel’ of historical accuracy and remind the audience that Moro was real. However, at the same time Chiara’s dreams become more and more vivid and hallucinogenic as she starts to question her role in Moro’s life and death – she imagines him wandering freely around the group’s apartment at night while they are all asleep, and even begins to imagine his escape. As an audience we want it to be true even though we know Moro was killed in cold blood by the group.

The use of music in the film is worth noting because there’s no ‘incidental’ music at all. In fact there some scenes with very little sound, let alone background music, but there are two pieces which are used throughout. Schubert’s Momenta Musicale in F Minor appears as the representation of Moro’s inner thoughts during his imprisonment. It’s an odd choice of classical music, because although melodically sad and therefore striking the right tone, it is also, as the title suggests, merely a musical moment nothing of great substance. Yet it has dignity and spirit, just like his character. The second piece is ‘Great Gig In The Sky’, by PINK FLOYD, which roots the film squarely in the 1970s. The slow yet inevitable build up at the start of the song is repeated frequently as an expression of Chiara’s inner turmoil. The song feels stifled because it is suppressed and then reappears many times, so it feels ultimately liberating when it’s finally let loose in the crescendo of haunting, melodic wails, punctuating the most powerful moment in the film, as Chiara realises Moro will be killed that night.

I know it’s hard to imagine being ‘in the mood’ to see GOOD MORNING, NIGHT but this really is a beautiful and intelligent film, and at 105 mins long it never drags. Bellocchio never lectures the audience, nor sympathises with the terrorists cause. The script was written pre- 9/11 and is not a polemic on the state of modern terrorism, but more an exploration of the complex relationship between ideology and reality.

5 out of 6 stars

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