Buongiorno, Notte is director Marco Bellocchio’s 2003 story about the 1978 kidnapping and assassination of Aldo Moro, Italian president of the political party, Democrazia Cristiana.
The 70’s weren’t an easy decade for Italy – a terrorist group – BR, Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades) was wreaking havoc, responsible for 14,000 acts of violence, the kidnapping of public figures, and having murdered 75, Aldo Moro was the most famous. Bellocchio tells the story shown through the eyes of one of the terrorists, a 23 year old girl named Chiara (Maya Sansa), who in effect, epitomizes the young, idealistic anarchists who believed, as Chiara’s leader told her:
Per la vittoria del proletariato è lecito uccidere anche la propria madre. – For the victory of the proletariat it is lawful to kill your own mother.
Even still Chiara is clearly conflicted and she grows increasingly weary and burdened by the weight of what her cell is doing and what she is doing to keep it all hidden (she’s the one with the job, the legitimate face that has rented the apartment in which Moro is hidden).
Throughout the movie she dreams, and at first her dreams are of revolutionary glory – later it’s hard to tell what she’s dreaming and what’s real. It’s curious, really, how Bellocchio has taken this tragic story about terrorism and brutality and made it beautiful and moving. It’s not that we sympathize with the killers, but we are made to feel great pain for the circumstances in which bright young people decide that murder is the answer to society’s problems.
As for Moro, Bellocchio has unapologetically shown him to be the gentle and forgiving martyr that he evidently was. His death, a horrible and tragic loss, did not unite the country in a revolutionary coup, as the BR thought it would. When the government and even the Vatican refused to negotiate Moro’s release, it strenghtened and unified the Democrazia Cristiana, and weakened the Brigate Rosse.
Bellocchio said: “Since I’m not a historian, I’m not interested in the factual truth, but more in telling a story in a new and unconventional way. Of course, I needed to dramatize certain elements in the film which didn’t exist in reality, so I invented certain parts of the story, focusing on the young woman’s character and on a young man who’s not part of the terrorist group. I couldn’t just passively recreate the story—the historical truth, that is—if any definite truths in the Moro tragedy exist.”
We can’t really know what Moro’s last days are like, but Bellocchio has given us a superb look at their essence and the meaning that can be taken from them. Buongiorno, Notte is one of the finest movies to come out of Italy in the last decade.
Director: Marco Bellocchio
Stars: Maya Sansa, Luigi Lo Cascio and Roberto Herlitzka