Buongiorno, notte  (Good Morning, Night) (2003)




Director:     Marco Bellocchio.

Starring:     Maya Sansa (Chiara), Luigi Lo Cascio (Mariano), Roberto Herlitzka (Aldo Moro), Pier Giorgio Bellocchio (Ernesto), Giovanni Calcagno (Primo), Paolo Briguglia (Enzo).

1978, Red Brigade kidnaps Italian Prime Minister Moro



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie.

Two members of the Red Brigade, Chiara and Ernesto, pretend to be a married couple and look for an apartment.  They pick one that is relatively isolated.  Chiara and her boyfriend celebrate New Year's Eve 1978 at the apartment. 

On the television news is the report of the Red Brigade kidnapping of Prime Minister Aldo Moro, head of the Christian Democratic Party.  Two policemen and three carbineri were killed in the kidnapping.  Chiara is ecstatic over the news.

Her Red Brigade comrades bring a huge chest into the room.  Inside is Aldo Moro.  They place him in a small space located behind the book case so that it is hidden from view.  The Prime Minister complains that he can't breathe.  They think he may have broken a rib or two in the struggle.  They send Chiara out to get some medicine and elastic bandages. 

Chiara continues to go to work as a clerk in the ministry as usual.  At work there is a good deal of discussion about the kidnapping. 

The kidnappers tell Moro that he is a symbol of his party.  And as a symbol he is subject to the death penalty in accordance with proletarian justice.  Later they come into Moro's space and tell him that the trial is over and that he has been sentenced to death.  Moro asks to be left alone to write letters to his family and friends. 

Chiara is very torn by the application of the death penalty.  She had read Moro's letter to his wife and felt badly for Moro and his family.  Moro later writes a letter to the Holy Father, Pope Paul IV.  In the letter he asks the Pope to intervene and call for an exchange of prisoners so that he might go home to his family. 

As the day of the execution draws near Chiara asks that Moro not be killed or for the death sentence at least be delayed.  Her request is denied.

After 55 days of captivity, Aldo Moro was executed on May 9, 1978.  The conspirators were individually caught and all received life sentences, which are being served on a day-release program. 

Pope Paul IV officiated at the state funeral, but Moro's body was not there.  Moro's family refused to attend the state funeral.


An o.k. movie.  But is there any larger point besides the actual historical event itself?  The Red Brigade members were very non-impressive.   They appeared to be delusional, thinking that a proletarian rebellion would be set off by the kidnapping of Moro.  (Kind of like the Manson family who thought the killing of Hollywood couples would lead to a racial rebellion.)  Chiara was bothered by the death penalty for Moro, but isn't it a bit late to have a crisis of conscience?  Why didn't she have doubts about the entire kidnapping project?  And she must have known that the end result for Moro would have to be death.  There are no heroes in the movie.  We know Moro is going to die one way or the other and the Red Brigade people are all crazy, so who's to root for? 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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