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The Political Context: a brief summary and clarification
palmiro24 March 2004
I won't comment on the film's artistic merits, which I regard as noteworthy, nor on the psychological portrait given of the brigatisti, which I thought interesting but flawed. I will only say that the film was deeply moving for me and had me crying uncontrollably at times. I wish to give, instead, a sketch of the film's political context for the benefit of those whose familiarity with that period in Italian politics may be limited.

By 1978 Italy had been ruled uninterruptedly for more than 30 years by coalition governments, all of which were dominated by the Christian-Democratic party (DC). The Italian Communist Party (PCI) had been thrown out of the government in 1947 (in part, on the insistence of Washington as a condition for Italy's receiving Marshall aid monies), and it was excluded from all governments even though its share of the popular vote rose with every post-war election, making it the second largest party in Italy (it peaked at more than a third of the vote in the late 1970s). The PCI was not your average Communist party. It espoused a route to the transformation of capitalism that emphasized gradualism, social mobilization, and electoral politics--and by the early '60s its commitment to the acceptance of the principles of democratic pluralism was public and pronounced. By the end of the '70s, Italy was sorely in need of reform--the kind of reform in institutional arrangements and socio-economic policies that could only come through a change in government.

The 30 years of DC rule had created a regime rent through and through with corruption and unresponsive government (by contrast with the regional governments run by the PCI, which were models of efficiency and responsive government). But the US and most of the DC continued to argue that the opposition should not be allowed to come to power under any circumstances because of the "Communist menace."

Aldo Moro, president of the DC at the time, was one of a few DC leaders receptive to the idea of bringing the PCI into the government to effect reforms and make the country more governable--responding, as he was, to the initiative of Enrico Berlinguer, leader of the PCI, who called for an "historic compromise" with the Catholic masses and their party. But at the same time that the PCI was inching towards the government, there were fractions of the left in Italy that felt that the PCI was selling out the dream of making "The Revolution". Certainly it was true that the PCI had long abandoned the notion of "Revolution in the West" as resembling anything like the storming of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg in 1917 (note the imagery of revolutionary Russia thrown into the film by Bellocchio as representative of the consciousness of the brigatisti). But the PCI continued to be nominally wedded to the idea that capitalism was not the final resting place in the evolution of human social-economic systems, and that it could and should be replaced by a system of production based on production to satisfy human needs rather than private profit.

The closer the PCI moved towards government and compromise with the DC, the more this commitment to a socio-economic order alternative to capitalism was put into question in the eyes of Italy's "revolutionary" left (all of which, by the way,existed outside of the PCI in other social and political organizations).

Enter the Red Brigades (BR). Most of the their ranks were filled with leftists who came to "revolutionary" politics via Catholicism and the social gospel. They believed themselves to be heirs to the tradition of revolutionary militancy (and armed struggle)embodied in the Resistenza, the struggle against the German occupation of Italy,1943-45--a struggle which, in the minds of many of the combatants, was waged for the sake of a socio-economic order alternative to the inequalities and irrationalities of capitalism (it was mainly Bellocchio's use of clips showing the execution of "partigiani" (resistance fighters) and the reading of the letters they had written just prior to their execution which brought me to tears).

The BR believed that through "exemplary" actions (the knee-capping or killing of politicians, journalists, and trade-unionists seen by them as enemies of the working class) they might be able to galvanize the masses of the working class, whose revolutionary militancy had, presumably, had been lulled into a quiescent state by the "sell-out" leadership of the PCI.

The kidnapping of Moro was designed to put a stop to that process, and indeed it succeeded well. To the delight both of the "revolutionary" left and Washington the PCI was kept out of the government for almost another 20 years, until after the fall of the USSR and the complete dissolution of the DC under the weight of a gigantic scandal. One side note: Bellocchio is certainly in error in suggesting that Stalin would have been part of the fantasies of the BR--while they greatly admired Lenin for having pulled off the Bolshevik Revolution, they detested Stalin and the bureaucratized party rule that came in his wake.

One final note: I'm not sure I understand why Bellocchio has chosen as his counter-hero a figure who suggests the use of "fantasia" as an alternative to violence. It was precisely the BR's "flight of imagination" that got them into trouble, imagining a world that didn't exist in Italy--a world of revolutionary seething masses just waiting for a spark to ignite them. In politics there's no substitute for Machiavelli's "chiaroveggenza" (the capacity to see things clearly).
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Just to clarify
hermione4719 September 2003
I've read the other comments on this board and I would like to precise that Aldo Moro at the time was not the Italian President and that obviously the Red Brigades were out for his blood because he was working skilfully at a compromise between the Christian Democrats and the Communists and that meant for the extremists of the left to be cut out from any kind of power or hold they might have on the Government. The film itself does not seek to give political answers and is much more concerned with the human aspects of the drama. It's more lyrical than realistic... if you're looking for action or for a docudrama, you should probably go elsewhere.
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a fiction to look back !
davidgautier11 February 2004
Based on a novel, the film describes the situation of Aldo Moro during his captivity. There is more than a meticulous realistic point of view given in this film : it tries to figure thoughts and attitudes of the kidnappers, members of brigate rosse. It explores the contradictions of hidden activists who are desperately trying to justify violent actions by the salvation of proletariat and rise of a social justice. They are seen in their loneliness, especially on the affective, emotional side. The psycho-rigidity of their mind is patent, not only in the sententious talks to their prisoner, in a certain desperate naivety to seek echos of their action in public opinion throughout medias, but also in the way they rule relationships. It's not politically that Moro's character strongly opposes to his kidnappers' characters, but rather in the way he's emotionnaly tied to his family (although being a prisonner, he can write letters), while the others seem alienated facing their own families (Mariano pretends to have cut any link to his son, Chiara tries to avoid familial phone calls and meetings, another member is mad about being away of his girl and suffers to be away from her mind and point of view when he sees her). Together, those members don't look like a family of a new kind. Maybe is it the main limit of Bellochio's movie, not to explore the way such an internal and autistic logical builds inside radical groups. But the movie spots a clearly defined place and time, focusing exclusively on elements linked to Moro's detention in a casual apartment (the gunfight of the kidnapping and then the death of the prisonner are seen indirectly throughout television). The strength of the movie is to develop a symbolic aspect with the character of Chiara's colleague (of her cover work) who defends imagination against the brutality of autocratic arbitrary. Almost fantastically, this character seems to guess Chiara's situation, writing a fiction about the events (like the movie we're effectively seeing as spectators) and modifying her feelings : when she realizes how any execution is horrible and unfair (reminding executions of italian partisani of WWII), it's too late and there is no other escape than in her own imagination (dream-like scene that the film also shows us). I believe it's a good and clever way to introduce us into such a historical event (maybe still wounding italian society), imagination. I also like the aspects and details of the movie that describe the importance of christianity in the conscience of the italians (even marxists ones, subconsciously) and critizises the sacrificial consensus into a falsely ineluctable execution but real murder.
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largely speculative true life story
Buddy-5123 December 2006
On March 16, 1978, Aldo Moro, the Prime Minister of Italy, was kidnapped by a group of Communist revolutionaries known as the Red Brigade and held in captivity for 55 days. Through letters and photos sent by the kidnappers, the authorities learned that Moro had been given a "trial" by the Red Brigade and sentenced to death for his crimes against the proletariat of Italy - and, indeed, on May 9th of that year, his body was found, riddled with ten rounds of bullets, in the trunk of an abandoned car.

In "Good Morning, Night," writer/director Marco Bellochio takes the events and drains them of much of their sociopolitical significance, choosing instead to focus on the human drama at the story's core. Bellochio looks at the ambivalent feelings and conflicted motives underlying the kidnappers' actions, particularly in the case of an attractive young woman named Chiara (confidently played by Maya Sansa), who comes to question her commitment to "the cause" as the reality of what they are planning to do begins to sink in. It is largely through her eyes that we come to view the events and to see Moro less as an impersonal force to be manipulated for political purposes and more as a simple human being with all the fears, insecurities and desperate desire for life common to us all. Indeed, the political aspects stay largely in the background, relegated mainly to clips of stock footage showing us the principal players of the time dealing with the crisis.

With its dreamy visions, fantasy sequences, and tendency towards wild speculation, the film may frustrate those who would have preferred a more historically accurate, documentary approach to the topic. But Bellochio, as an artist, is less concerned with the "facts" of the case than with exploring the dilemma of the revolutionary's mindset. And to that end, he has done an exemplary job in "Good Morning, Night."
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beautiful minor movie on a major event of the Italian history
dromasca9 April 2005
Aldo Moro's kidnapping and murder was at its time a huge event for the Italian history and the world. With the recrudescence of terrorism at the beginning of the 70s, some of the extreme left movements in Europe - especially in Germany and Italy - embraced the path of the 'armed struggle', a deformation of the Marxist concept of class struggle in a try to stop the historical reconciliation between the traditional political parties and an Italian Comminist Party already feeling the winds of reform that will melt down the Iron Curtain 10-15 years later.

Marco Bellocchio's film tackles the story from the perspective of the day to day life of the kidnappers, and through the eyes and dreams of one of the kidnappers - the only female in the group. We do not see any of the bloody events of the kidnapping or the outcome, and most of the action happens in the rented flat where the captors kept Moro imprisoned. The director and the splendid main actress Maya Sansa succeed to re-create the political conditioning and the motivations that brought the young woman to join the terrorist fighting path, but also the human dimension that brings her back the feelings of compassion to the victim. It is Aldo Moro's portrait played by Roberto Herlitzka which seems surprinsigly more sketchy, and I had the feeling that a greater message about the relationship between kidnapper and victim was missed.

It is still an interesting movie to watch, minor in style but human, dealing from a different perspective with a theme that too often generated films that were spectacular, but deprived of any true emotion. 8 out of 10 on my personal scale.
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Things that never happened
klauskind18 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers

Bellochio seems to be on a roll, after making L'ora di Religione he came up with another excellent film the next year, Buongiorno, Notte. In both films he mixes what's real and what's imaginary in a way that comforts. It doesn't fool or numb, but it cleanses.

Buongiorno, Notte is about the kidnapping and murder of Aldo Moro, the conservative leader who 'threatened' the cold war settlement of the Italian state by favouring an understanding with the communist party. After Moro's kidnappers have carried him in a trunk into the flat, they find in one of his briefcases a screenplay called Buongiorno, Notte, which is the title of the film. Further on in the movie, a young would-be writer says he has written a screenplay titled, guess what, Buongiorno, Notte. Bellocchio is the director and also the author of the film's screenplay, so he slips himself into the plot, at least symbolically. But Bellocchio's alter ego has a life of his own and a thing for a girl who can be no other than the star, Chiara, one of the kidnappers. It is to Chiara that he confides the 'last-minute' changes he's made to the script and charges her with the responsibility to carry them out. Those changes can alter fiction but not history and symbolize what Moro should have been able to count on during those terrible days.

Moro counted on nothing of the sort, he was murdered by the Red Brigades in 1978. He was caught, the film suggests, between the murderers and the cynics. Chiara is an imaginary wedge Bellocchio drives into reality to settle old scores with a history about which he's unsparing. In an interview, Bellocchio suggested the young writer could be Chiara's conscience, which is perfectly reasonable, but who if not the author could give his character such a conscience? The author does all he can to restore his character her lost nobility, a task Maya Sansa, the actress who plays Chiara, with her intense eyes and anguished feelings, makes so easy to accept. Despite all this talk, the movie is very easy to follow, uses sound in a manner close to clairvoyance and has many remarkable scenes.

Among those, Chiara's black and white dreams or one involving an elevator in which the director, by displaying a perfect use of expressive resources, shows the impact of terrorism on Italian society. It's something of a master's touch.
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Shallow and Non-Sense
claudio_carvalho21 August 2009
On 16 March 1978, the Italian politician of the Christian Democracy and former Prime Minister Aldo Moro is kidnapped by the Red Brigades with the purpose of exchanging him for the release of several terrorists from prison. The Red Brigade does not succeed in the intent and after fifty- four days in captivity, they kill Aldo Moro with eleven shots in the chest.

"Buongiorno, Notte" is a shallow and non-sense dramatization of the last days of Aldo Moro in confinement through the eyes of a twenty-three year-old sensitive terrorist and librarian. The movie technically is good, with great performances, nice cinematography and costumes. But I do not see any worth in a fictional dramatization of a true well-known story. The political events behind the case are not focused but only a corny attitude of a hypothetical terrorist that is against the wall with the decision of her comrades of executing the politician. The wonderful songs of Pink Floyd ("Shine on you Crazy Diamond", "The Great Gig in the Sky") do not fit well to the theme. The dream sequences of the lead character are the best moments of this forgettable and overrated movie. My vote is five.

Title (Brazil): "Bom Dia, Noite" ("Good Morning, Night")
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Fragmented film
atwt10 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This film is not so much about Caso Moro (also taken into consideration this his actual kidnapping and death are not shown), as it is about the psychology of the film's main character, Chiara, and that of the Red Brigades. I would characterize the film as fragmented; pieces of reality of the kidnapping of Aldo Moro are alternated with fragments of Chiara's fantasies and ideas (often accompanied by intense music), and historical footage. The end of the film comes unexpected and clarifies that the viewer of this film who felt that was missing a real plot was not making a mistake.

In fact, a real plot, for me, didn't seem to exist and the fragments in the film are never really elaborated on or connected with one another. I agree fully with one of the commentators before me that for example a display of a relationship between Moro and the kidnappers was never really carried out in the film, nor was Chiara's young co-worker's obvious crush over her really brought to a definite end. Many other possible developments were also left untouched. Combined with Chiara's dreams of another reality, the film at times seems a bit surrealistic.

Although the characters are never really developed in the course of the film, the Red Brigades are being shown as humane and less aggressive or hateful than they must have been in reality. The director seems to pass on the blame of the eventual death of Moro to two parties; his political "friends" and the Pope. His friends decide to not make an effort to free him and choose to ignore the Red Brigades and not meet their demands. The Pope, influenced by the politic point of view, also states that Moro must be released unconditionally. To the Red Brigades, of course, is left no other option than to kill the leader of the Christian democrats.

If you're interested in Italian history, this would certainly be an interesting film to watch, because with the use of details and historical footage the director has been able to subtly pass his statements on the viewer and show us an image of this historical event that is very original, even if it is carried out in a manner all different than bold. The acting is above average, with the excellent Lo Cascio (La Meglio Gioventù), and Sansa (same reference). Roberto Herlitzka plays the role of Moro far from badly.

But don't expect a large plot that will blow you away at the end of the film. As said, this film is subtle, and for me it took a while for the message to sink in.

Jonathan, The Netherlands
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an interesting subject, but a dull movie
jaapparqui9 September 2003
The Italian national trauma of the kidnapping of Aldo Moro is a very interesting subject. A deed like that raises many questions. Why is anybody so obsessed by his ideals to kidnap the Italian president and subsequently murder him? How mentally ill is such a person? What emotions do you have when you are locked up for months in a row knowing that you'll probably gonna die? Hardly any of these questions is answered in the film. All you see is two hours of people walking through the appartment. The political discussions with Moro could give some insight in the motivations of the kidnappers but are superficial. It is as if only the uninteresting aspects of this kidnapping where filmed. There are also moving moments though: the letters of Moro to his family are heartbreaking.
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Le Brigate Rosse
atorri3 June 2006
This movie describes the 55 days of captivity of On. Aldo Moro, kidnapped by the Red Brigades in 1978. In rapid strokes, the Red Brigades are presented as a group bent on implementing a Marxist-Leninist revolution in Italy through the destabilization of the Republican democratic state in order to implement a Soviet style dictatorship. The Red Brigades were inspired by the Russian revolution and by the actions of Lenin and his Bolshevik followers. The maxim at the time was "Portare l'attacco al cuore dello stato", i.e. "Bring the attack to the heart of the state" and the Red Brigades extended their campaign of numerous targeted assassinations to those public figures that were trying to dilute the original message of the Marxist-Leninist revolution. On. Aldo Moro, President of the Christian Democratic Party, with his decade of attempts to mediate "Il Compromesso Storico" (The Historic Compromise), i.e., the entrance in the Government of politicians of the Italian Communist Party (Partito Comunista Italiano, PCI), was targeted, kidnapped and assassinated because he was close to succeed in his task. In the Red Brigade's view, the entrance of the PCI in the Government would have betrayed the Leninist dogma of proletarian revolution, and of the planned physical elimination of the middle class (Classe Borghese). Mr. Bellocchio does not delve too deeply into this essential motivations of the Red Brigades, and while he does not embellish their crime, he presents a superficial view of the political debate. I was in Italy when On. Moro was kidnapped and assassinated, and I remember very well those days. The Italian Communist Party (PCI) was very worried that the equation Communism-by-the-book = Red Brigades would cause a loss of votes for the party (30-35% of the electorate voted PCI) and the Italian Right (non-fascist) was too sleepy or ignorant to use the equation in the political debate, i.e. to suggest that communism was a bloody ideology that had at its core the destruction in a blood-bath of all the class enemies. Mr. Bellocchio does not present this political debate and prefers to continue the traditional and superficial approach: the Red Brigades were somewhat romantic criminal assassins. The film would have greatly improved had the most recent development on the significance of Communist Terrorism (especially the magisterial work of Richard Drake on the subject) in the 1960's and 1970's Italy been presented. Because it failed to refresh the trite and regimented view that the Red Brigades were a sort of political criminal folly, Mr. Bellocchio should be commended only because he is the only major movie director daring to dedicate a movie to the still not closed chapter of Marxist-Leninist terrorism in Italy. The movie was produced by the Italian State Television (RAI), and many of the RAI intellectuals are lefties: therefore it is not surprising that the fundamental violence of communism in all its forms had not been presented by the movie. In summary: commendable for reconstructing a painful chapter in the history of the Italian Democracy and for presenting a credible On.Aldo Moro, but missing the most updated debate on the subject and not adding much to the popular mythology.
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Intriguing Effort to Understand Terrorists
noralee17 November 2005
"Good Morning, Night (Buongiorno, notte)" is an intriguing effort to understand terrorists.

Loosely based on a novel, writer/director Marco Bellocchio specifically re-imagines the kidnapping of Italian party leader Aldo Moro in 1987, with heavy use of television clips. The quaintly naive Cold War rhetoric, emphasized with odd historic black and white newsreel interstices such as of Stalinist parades, may now be seen as an examination of a symbolic precursor for today's gruesome politics, though he was already working on the film at 9/11.

The young idealists we are first introduced to seem as harmless as the radical pranksters in the contemporary "The Edukators (Die Fetten Jahre sind vorbei)." While it's a jolt to gradually learn their connection to the violent attack, first revealed as they cheer at the initial TV coverage, they seem so bumbling and nervous (one takes leave abruptly for, as it were, a conjugal visit as he feels he's the one being imprisoned; another gets fixated on an overly symbolic pet caged bird), it's never clear if they personally committed murder or if they're just the guardian cell taking orders from those who stage the mock trial and pull the triggers or if that is a moral difference that is intentionally considered irrelevant.

Real world politics do occasionally seep through in silent background commentary, through factory strikes and sarcastic graffiti, but the determined ideologues reject these actions as they see themselves as the true believers. Ironically, the drone of the TV coverage, with reports of related and unrelated violent acts around the country, they anxiously watch becomes as much a recitation as the opening pitch from the bored apartment rental agent.

Their Red Brigade aims seem so diffuse about intending to set off revolutions and counter-revolutions, compared to the more direct motives of the terrorists in "Paradise Now" (let alone how kidnapping has devolved into a business, as in "Secuestro Express"), at least to those not intimately familiar with Italian political dialectics, that it seems more understandable than ludicrous that the negotiations draw on. A long side bar scene where one of the kidnappers joins her family in a memorial service for World War II partisans nostalgically singing an anti-Fascist anthem, inspiring her to read a collection of letters resistance fighters wrote before their executions instead of her usual Lenin or Engels reading, makes the dialectics even more ironic as to what fascist behavior is. Her internal struggle to resolve these pressures, including several confusing dream sequences, is the core of the film and Maya Sansa, with very expressive eyes, is captivating as "Chiara."

The kidnapping itself takes on a "Ransom of Red Chief" feel as the Aldo Moro character, well-played by Roberto Herlitzka and the point of the film's dedication to the auteur's father, is much more of an eloquent, dignified, paternal humanist statesman than a typical politician. The kidnappers seem to be thwarted in provoking political crisis because he will only write personal, non-political notes to his family, particularly his grandson (even if does seem as if he's writing love notes to his mistress rather than to his wife). But his appeal to the pope and the pope's involvement in the negotiations and their aftermath seems as incongruous as an odd séance by political supporters or the kidnappers doing a blessing before eating. Compared to the director's earlier "My Mother's Smile (L'Ora di religione: Il sorriso di mia madre)," religion is only an ancillary issue.

The auteur's voice, as an artist, seems to speak through a somewhat naive and flirtatious friend of "Chiara"s who has written a screenplay about radicals and quotes the Emily Dickinson poem that inspired the title. He argues that the imagination can be a powerful force in influencing people, though of course the authorities misinterpret his involvement.

I saw it with a defective soundtrack, but other than odd musical commentary with bombastic selections from "Aida" and Pink Floyd, the film's strength is faces and looking into the eyes of deluded cogs in the wheel of historical forces, though the best sequence is given away in the trailer.
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jldmp13 September 2006
The events bookending this movie are true, but the actual story is pure speculation...thus leaving the door wide open for the storytelling.

Communist Catholics are an oddity...the contradictions in that appellation alone are manifest. So what we have here is told somewhat in the manner of a Passion Play, cross-pollinated with a critique vs. defense of the Marx-Hegel "Holy Family"...the argument centers on the captive's immediate concern about execution, whereas the captors insist on demonstrating they are merciless.

The problem is, all of this seems to be going on as if there's no outside world of concern...oh, we get leakage in from TV and newspapers, but no sense that Rome is under lockdown. This ends up totally alienated from the central symbolism (Mora's body having been found precisely halfway between the respective Christian Democrats' and Italian Communist Party's headquarters). We're locked behind the writing (the stacks of books, and simultaneously, Chiara within the library), then left for dead with no spatial, political or symbolic context.

That said, there is some cleverness in the limitation placed on Chiara, who is the only one who can tell the story outside the apartment, but has a proximity barrier from the writer at the cubicle door and peephole. Upon reaching perigee, she is reduced to defiant tears. Note also how she dreams in Soviet-era propaganda films!
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Prize??? What Prize are you talking about???
brokensword17 September 2003
I loved so much last Bellocchio's movie, the masterpiece "L'Ora di Religione". It had a great screenplay, great actors (well, have to say Castellitto is so much greater than others), a brillant use of lights for a great cinematography.

Well, Buongiorno Notte is a different story. Ridiculous screenplay erupting tons of morals (and we could speak weeks about politics, you know we are italians...). Poor cinematography (it's too simple representing '70s dark years with dark colors and dark lights, do some efforts more peoples!!!!). Bad use of music: what's the point of using psychedelia to represent the tragic rationality of Brigate Rosse?

And to all the people who claimed the main prize in Venice, I answer:"Are you nuts????" Maybe the russian film was bad but not as bad as this.

I'm down with the P.E. Don't believe the hype!!!!
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Haunting, quietly powerful re-imagining of true events
runamokprods17 March 2012
The true story of the kidnap of Italian political leader Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades in 1978 is turned into a haunting, disturbing tone poem of s film.

Eschewing realism, or the obvious tense, linear approach, this focuses on the experience through the eyes of one the young kidnappers, and her ever growing doubts about the righteousness of the mission. But rather than express this literally, we see it emerge in dream sequences, and behind her eyes.

Beautifully shot, with a terrific use of classical and modern music (Pink Floyd shows up more than once) this quiet nightmare of a film is far more effecting and thought provoking than most political dramas. It does not miss the irony that Aldo was a humanist who was actually inviting the communist party to be part of the government.

A great cautionary truth based fable about the danger of giving yourself completely and unquestioningly to any ideology, left or right, religious or secular.
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Good political docu-drama, superb soundtrack
Indyrod14 April 2006
This is a very good docu-drama about a kidnapping and assassination of a former Prime Minister Aldo Moro of Italy in 1978 by the Red Brigades. Pretty much the whole movie takes place in the hideout where they are keeping the politician, trying to negotiate a change in government and even getting the Pope involved. One of the most amazing things about the movie to me, outside of excellent story telling, is the use of Pink Floyd music. There's not too many movies that get the right to use PF music, but this movie does with "Shine on you crazy Diamond" and "The Great Gig in the Sky". Extremely powerful music to establish tone and mood in the movie, and very effective. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and the DVD documentary extra is very good too. It gives a great background to the true story, and a good profile of the filmmaker.
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A Remarkable Depiction of a Perplexing Coups
gradyharp15 August 2006
Marco Bellocchio takes a lot of chances in his films, examining human behavior in the face of dissension whether political, moral, or emotional. In 'Buongiorno, notte' ('Good Morning, Night') he studies the infamous 1978 kidnapping of Aldo Moro in what would be a situation that would raise as many questions as it gave answers - and it is that quality that Bellocchio has captured in his film.

The facts of the Italian political current in 1978 may not be understood by the general viewer, but suffice it to say that the ruling political party Democrazia Cristiana was challenged by the Red Brigade, the underground terrorists who kidnapped and killed President Aldo Moro in a coups that was eventually destroyed by the reigning powers. That much of a plot is all that is necessary to know. The bulk of the film revolves around the lives of the kidnappers, especially the sole woman Chiara (Maya Sansa) who with her compatriots hid the President in a tiny room with the threat of death, but also were influenced by the writings and conversations with Moro. The whole question of revolution is under close inspection. The story mixes documentary shots with the cinematography in a tasteful way of showing us the elements of the kidnapping and the aftermath. It is the reaction of Chiara to these events and the questioning that can disrupt the political leanings of revolutionaries that makes this story so very meaningful.

The cast is superb: Maya Sansa, Pier Giorgio Bellocchio, Giovanni Calcagno, Luigi Lo Cascio and Paolo Briguglia as the kidnappers, and Roberto Herlitzka as Aldo Moro are convincing and human. The script does have holes in it where formation of ideas and acts and incidents are vague, but it almost seems as though that is the intention of Bellocchio. In political upheaval nothing is black and white if the events are related through individual's eyes rather that through the reaction of the mobs. And this is what makes the film so fine, if a bit hard to follow.
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Prisoners and Guards
paul2001sw-12 May 2017
In the 1970s, moderate Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro proposed a historic compromise with the Communist party, whereupon more radical leftists abducted, imprisoned and ultimately killed him. Aside from the personal tragedy, one can wonder if Italy lost the chance of a better future. But how can a group of supposed idealists kill an essentially innocent man, and moreover, one of the more decent politicians of his age? Only, we learn, by abstracting away from humanity. Director Marco Bellocchio was himself once involved in radical politics, enough to understand; and his film about the Moro kidnapping is austere, showing not telling the bleak lives of the captives and captors alike. The soundtrack is heavier than it needs to be, and there's not a lot to soften the mood, nor even lengthy political discussions: the decision to kill is taken, and what follows, follows. Pschologically, the film seems on the mark; but it might have been more interesting with a bit more back story and context.
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Not a Movie--a Filmed Talkathon.
kayaker364 April 2008
Most of the positive comments posted here are as verbose as the movie! It takes a long-winded bore to appreciate a wordy and boring film, one supposes. Some have merely called the film "contemplative", meaning slow and devoid of plot, however, one Dutch reviewer hit the nail on the head: this is an important event turned into a dull film whose tone is set in the very first scene. Here a young couple is being shown an apartment by a Realtor who, predictably, talks non-stop and regardless of what else is going on. So does just about every other character!

The only silences in this picture are dream sequences--1930's Soviet propaganda snippets--and they are also its most interesting parts. This tells you something about how watchable the rest of the movie is.

The device of filming most of the scenes in extreme closeup--as if one were looking through a crack in the blinds--gets old fast.
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Italian tragedy
stensson20 August 2004
This is by no means an action movie. It's a chamber play telling what happens with kidnappers and victims, having an indeed strange relation.

Aldo Moro has different effects on the terrorists and especially on the girl, the one who seems to have a normal life outside the terrorist cell, where she also encounters a normal man, which gives some tension.

A strong part is played by the Pink Floyd music of the time "Shine on you crazy Diamond" and also by the authentic news rapports considering the crime and the funeral in the end. A capable although not strong movie.
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GOOD MORNING, NIGHT (Marco Bellocchio, 2003) ***
Bunuel197624 January 2010
While I was aware of the 1978 kidnapping and execution of "Democrazia Cristiana" President Aldo Moro by the terrorist group "Brigate Rosse", I was clearly not knowledgeable of the exact details since I was a mere toddler when the event that shook the nation took place; in retrospect, it is not that the vicissitudes behind the case are made all that clear in the film – but, at least, here the obligatory didacticism is balanced by a surprising yet genuinely moving humanism. It was perhaps inevitable, then, that controversial director Bellocchio would tackle the subject – despite its having already been rendered cinematically in THE MORO AFFAIR (1986), in which the former Italian Prime Minister was played by the great Gian Maria Volonte' – since his work had always been politically-oriented to some degree. What I did not anticipate was the fact that Bellocchio would present the story from the ambivalent eyes of one of the radicals themselves, superbly played by lovely Maya Sansa, and even less so the touches of outright fantasy (equating, in its depiction of Moro's flight from captivity, wishful thinking!) he inserted intermittently within the compelling and generally intense narrative. Incidentally, newsreel and other assorted TV footage dating from the era are similarly juxtaposed; however, as I said earlier, all of this does not really enlighten one on the matter: especially baffling is the lack of an objective, i.e. opposing view, of the politics involved (for instance, there seems to be no ongoing police investigation and the suggestion that Moro's peers simply chose to forget about him is rather disturbing). By the way, the obscure title refers to a screenplay Moro happens to be carrying with him at the time of the abduction: ironically, it turns out to have been written by an infatuated colleague from the heroine's conservative work-place, a public library…but, then, this emerges as just another flight of fancy on the director's part since it tells of a comparable act of terrorism, albeit blessed with a happy ending for its victim! Of particular interest here is the accompanying soundtrack, deftly mixing operatic arias with no less grandiose Pink Floyd classics such as "The Great Gig In The Sky" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part One)".
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Christians 1, Commies 0
DeeNine-223 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon.)

Not to be flippant, but the Christian Democrats outshine the Red Brigade by quite a bit in this political dramatization of the kidnapping and murder of Italy's former prime minister in 1978. Highlight of the movie is the performance by Maya Sansa as Chiara, one of the kidnappers. She is a red because of what happened to her father at the hands of the government. Consequently Chiara is an emotional communist, not an ideological one; and so the up close and personal kidnapping, "trial," and eventual murder of the gentle and truly Christian Aldo Moro (played with strength and grace by Roberto Herlitzka) began to wear on her spirit, making her question what she is a part of--not, however, enough for her to do anything about it except in her dreams.

The reason the Christians outshine the communists here (and elsewhere by the way) is that the communist ideology requires murders in the name of ideology whereas Christianity does not condone murder for any reason, although some Christians seem unaware of that. The movie includes the communist rationale for the murder, which Chiara, with tears in her eyes, cannot accept even though she hates the bourgeois who have run Italy since World War II. Incidentally the mini speech that one of the kidnappers gives to Chiara to justify the murder sounded a bit like something one might hear from Al Qaeda.

Maya Sansa is brilliant and her countenance captured my eyes, but I question whether she was the right person to play this role. Although strong and charismatic, she seems anything but the rabid revolutionary.

Director Marco Bellocchio's use of fantasy scenes was effective in that it highlighted the torn and nearly (nearly!) impossible desire of Chiara to free Moro. However the unlikely device of a co-worker at the library writing a screenplay called "Good Morning, Night" which depicts the events of the movie and the fictionalized kidnapping seemed a bit much. That he could divine these events just by knowing Chiara, as though channeling her, seemed almost mawkish in the face of the historical reality. But Bellocchio and Anna Laura Braghetti, who wrote the novel from which the movie was adapted, were perhaps inspired by an actual seance attended by some government officials who used a psychic medium in an effort to locate the kidnapper's hideout.

Clearly a plus was to see Christian values triumph over communist ones, and to see in retrospect a triumph for the good over the not so good. Moro died, but he died a hero and a respected man. His killers were disgraced and given (by American standards anyway) relatively lenient sentences, perhaps because they were so young. This is in keeping with the forgiveness that is at the heart of Christianity, allowing the Italian people to maintain the moral high road over what was then called the Red Menace.

But I have to be honest. I would have found this movie almost boring were it not for the presence of Maya Sansa. Bellocchio wisely focused the camera on her as often as possible. Her emotional experience, as revealed by her features and her voice, went a long way toward carrying the movie.
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flywithabel7 February 2008
Marco Bellochio's Good Morning, Night is the story of four Red Brigadiers who kidnap and murder Aldo Moro, Italian Prime Minister and a leader in the Christian Democratic Party. Bellochio's main focus in the movie is the portrayal of lack of reality displayed by the Red Brigade members. This disillusionment is drawn out through the character Chiara, comparisons between the old and new, and the interviews with Aldo Moro while in captivity. The character, Chiara, is a most interesting one. She seems to be the only one of the Brigadiers who has any sense of reality or common sense. A librarian by trade and familial at home, Chiara is constantly confused towards the times and her involvement with the Red Brigade. This confusion is clearly depicted in her conversation with Enzo in the library as he correctly describes her in his screenplay. During this conversation, Enzo tells her that murder scares him yet if murder did not happen, the kidnapping would be meaningless but Chiara's seems to not comprehend this right away. They also engage in talk about reality vs imagination. She claims that imagination (concerning the screenplay) does nothing but the reality is that the screenplay is the truth. Confusion further sets in her mind. She even questions the murder with her comrades. Although she never changes in the movie, Bellochio uses Chiara to depict the confusion between reality and fantasy possessed by most Red Brigade members. Bellochio also uses comparison between the old and new to depict the lack of reality of the Brigadiers. The lunch and song scene with Chiara's family and the conversation amongst the youth is the ultimate exploration of this topic. Fischia il Vento, the song sung by the older family members is an adaptation of a Russian WWII folk song called Katyusha. The song was sung by many partisan groups in the Italian resistance movement who fought during WWII against the fascist governments in Italy and Germany who committed atrocious war crimes. Many of the older people sitting around the table were members of the WWII movement. Bellochio contrasts this older resistance, with moral and sensible goals, with the Brigadiers goals. From the conversation just before the song and during the whole movie, Bellochio implies that the Brigadiers just did not use their complete potential towards a moral cause. Finally, conversations between Aldo Moro and the Brigadiers are great executions of the theme, reality vs fantasy. Moro is the level headed mediator who is more in touch with reality than just about every character in the story. And his detainees are completely in touch with fictitious notions. In Moro's final pleas, he tells the Brigadiers that he will only become a martyr and that his death will not be beneficial to their cause. Moro even tries to explain to them that they both are working towards the same goals: peace and better lifestyle for the working class. The Red Brigadiers disillusionment is further amplified as the trial is claimed to be between the Christian Democratic Party and the Proletariats, whom the Brigadiers claim to represent. None of Moro's reasonable arguments work with the Brigadiers as he is tried and executed. Concluding, disillusionment is Bellochio's greatest implication towards this vicious act of brutality. He concerns himself with showing the viewers through Chiara, an older sense of morality and conversations, that the Red Brigade were just youth who did not understand that they live in such a strange world of hypocrisy.
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Contemplative movie that deals with the psyche
papillons_et_moi13 September 2003
In order to understand and fully appreciate this movie, the audience most likely needs to be Italian, and either fervently opposes the strong socialist ideologies of the Red Brigades (the terrorist-communist group that kidnaps the President), or those who strongly support them. However, this is still a movie that could stir the minds of those who are not familiar to the cause of death of the Italian President Aldo Moro, and the politics of the Italian parties.

Focusing on the 'behind-the-scenes' of the kidnapping, the perspective is seen mostly from the sole female member of the Red Brigades. As the movie progresses, she faces growing moral doubts about the assassination of Moro. Many of the insights that this film could touch upon are not completely developed (such as the question of the emotions of a victim about to face death, or the cause of the radical actions of the Red Brigades); however, this is merely because of the very fact that it is seen from the woman's point of view. She is suppose to be unemotional to the kidnapping (as we are led to believe all like-minded terrorists are), and yet, a glimpse of her troublesome conscience, and of her knowledge of the history of communist policies (in Russia, for example, as seen in many clips of documentaries dispersed throughout the movie) slowly seeps through to the surface of the movie. Hence, the 'superficialness' of all the political discussions. One puzzling question in this film is: why did the Red Brigades kill Moro, when in fact, he was the only politician at that time who is willing to bridge the gap between Christian Democratic policies (the main party), and the Communist policies (party in opposition)? In fact, their killing such a person subsequently ended all attempts by Italian politicians to raise Communist ideals into reality. That is, disappointingly, never answered in Buongiorno, Notte.

Most people would treat this as a renegade attempt to history, but I believe that this movie deserves recognition and an audience, especially since the world is still trying hard to understand the "irrational" minds of terrorists: this movie shows you Their point of view.
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