Good Morning, Night
Written and directed by Marco Bellocchio

With Maya Sansa, Luigi Lo Cascio, Roberto Herlitzka


Good Morning, Night

Those of us who lived for nothing but movies in the 1960s remember the brilliant first two films of Marco Bellocchio: "Fists in the Pocket"(1965) and "China is Near"(1967). And then for thirty years those of us who didn't happen to live in Italy saw nothing of his work.

And then in 2003 he took the story - the notorious true story - of the 1978 abduction of Italian premier Aldo Moro by a little group of anarchists, who held him for almost three months in an apartment closet and then - well, let me not give it away, though a moment's Googling will give you the answer. Because what's important in Bellocchio's film is not what happened but what it was like in that apartment, day after day after day, as we learn by following the only woman in the group of kidnappers, Chiara (Maya Sansa), who must pretend to the neighbors to be a young housewife making a new marriage work.

Bellocchio and his camera for the most part stay in the apartment; no one in the group is permitted to speak to Moro, even while bringing him his food or letting him use the toilet. He is blindfolded, and the men in the group begin by taunting him as they confidently expect the workers of Italy to rise up in support of their action. In fact they are shocked when they see on television great rallies demanding his release. Where was the support they expected? The film lets them come to slowly understand a bit more about their initial fantasy.

And then, about midway through the film, Moro speaks and someone replies for the first time. The film then adds a new factor: will Moro be able to affect the group? Will he find some way to persuade at least one member to let him escape? The dialogue now has another dimension - it is now not just within the group but with Moro too. And he is much older than they, he understands history much better than they, he has a more subtle view of politics than they. What will this lead to?

Periodically the television in the apartment tells us of the progress of the police and Interpol search for Moro; tensions grow within the group as they slowly come to realize that they have failed.

Bellocchio shows us all this through Chiara and her recognition of what she's done. And then we are faced with the question of what will happen to her, whatever the outcome of the crime. It is a fascinating and sad moment for us as well, because we have come to know Chiara and like her, despite what she's done. "Good Morning, Night" is Bellocchio's return to the topics of his youthful films, and a success on its own terms.