Night of the Shooting Stars (1982)





Directors:  Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani

Starring: , Omero Antonutti (Galvano), Margarita Lozano (Concetta), Claudio Bigagli (Corrado), Miriam Guidelli (Belindia), Massimo Bonetti (Nicola), Enrica Maria Modugno (Mara), Sabina Vannucchi (Rosanna), Giorgio Naddi (Bishop), Renata Zamengo (La Scardigli), Micol Guidelli (Cecilia), Massimo Sarchielli (Father Marmugi), Giovanni Guidelli (Marmugi Junior), Mario Spallino (Bruno), Paolo Hendel (Dilvo).

 last days of WWII for one town in Italy




The story is told in flashbacks.  A grown woman with a small son tells her child about the tradition of the night of the shooting stars and about something that happened to her village of San Martino in Tuscany (upper central Italy) and her family during World War II when she was just six years old.  (In Italian folklore, The Night of San Lorenzo is the night of the shooting stars, when dreams come true.)

The liberation of their village is coming soon for the Americans are advancing through Italy, pushing the Italian fascists and the Germans before them.  But before the Americans arrive, the German occupiers of the town mark a number of village houses for destruction at 3:00 a.m.  The Germans told the villagers that they should congregate in the village church.  This makes the villagers very nervous for they do not trust the Germans. 

The village is split on what to do.  Some want to escape at night from the village, while the other group wants to go to the village church.  One ground stays and the other goes.  Cecilia, the little girl, goes with her family to find the Americans.  She is actually very excited about the trip.  Cecilia sees this as a great adventure. 

But this trip will prove a little too exciting.  The Germans are capable of anything.  And so are the Italian fascists who are roaming around the countryside causing problems for the non-fascist Italians. Indeed, it is a virtual civil war in some respects. 

Will the little girl, her family and her fellow villagers survive the night of the shooting stars.  Will their prayers be answered and they be delivered to safety? 

Good movie.  The fate of the villagers was a matter of concern throughout the movie and kept one interested in following along with the tough journey of the villagers.   


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

Historical Background:


1943-1944  --  during World War II, Florence, the capital city of the Tuscany region,experienced a year-long German occupation.

1943 (July 10)  --  American and British troops invade Sicily.  The Germans are able to ferry their troops and the Italian troops to the Italian mainland. 

1943 (July 25)  --  the Grand Council of Fascism ousted Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.  The new government begins secret negotiations with the Allies to come over to the Allied side.

1943 (September 3)  --  British troops crossed into the 'toe' of Italy.

1943 (September 3)  --  the Italian government and the Allies sign an armistice.

1943 (September 8)  --  the armistice is signed and the Germans quickly disarmed the Italian forces and occupied critical positions in Italy.  Mussolini was rescued by German paratroopers led by Otto Skorzensky.

1943 (September 9)  --  Allied landing at Salerno and another at Taranto.

The reorganized the Italian forces, which then fought alongside the Allies for the rest of the war.  Italian troops loyal to Mussolini fought alongside the Germans.

A large Italian resistance movement began in the north.  They fought a guerrilla war against the Germans and Mussolini's forces.

It was a tough battle for the Allies in Italy.  The Axis forces had great defensive positions in the mountains.

1944 (April 25) -- the liberation of Florence, Tuscany, Italy.  The Germans committed terrible reprisal massacres around the region of Arezzo, Tuscany.

1945 (April 27)  --  as Mussolini and his mistress headed for Chiavenna to board a plane to escape to Switzerland, he and his entourage of about 15 people were taken prisoner by Italian communist partisans.  They brought them to Mezzegra.

1945 (April 28)  --  Mussolini, his mistress and his train of 15 were all executed in Mezzegra. 

1945 (spring)  --  finally, after Allied troops breached the Gothic Line, victory in Italy was achieved.



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