There are some unusual flaws with this DVD release so feel free to skip straight to the technical description.
On May 9, 1978 Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro was kidnapped by the Red Brigades, an extreme-left terrorist organization, after he publicly announced his plans to invite the Communist Party to Italy's ruling coalition. 55 days later Aldo Moro was assassinated. Buongiorno, Notte a.k.a Good Morning Night (2003), a film by Marco Bellocchio, recalls the final moments of this most-disturbing tragedy.
The foundation of Buongiorno, Notte is built around the gentle Chiara (Maya Sansa) whose internal struggle to justify her radical actions places the young revolutionary in some uncommon situations. As an influential member of the Red Brigades Chiara is often faced with moral dilemmas she is unable to resolve. Yet, her political convictions are so strong that in crucial moments she would always find the needed courage to act.
Buongiorno, Notte however is not a film about terrorism. While Marco Bellocchio strives to recreate the turbulent times surrounding the assassination of Aldo Moro his film remains strangely poetic. The passion, precision, and determination the terrorists reveal are often counterbalanced with almost dreamy-like sequences where the film seeks to uncover logic. As a result instead of being dry and biased Buontiorno, Notte surprises with a delicate and at times unconventionally poetic storytelling.
Those familiar with Italy and its extremely complicated political climate will most certainly detect familiar overtones in Buongiorno, Notte. Being a nostalgia-drama the film does not seek to justify or condemn the actions of those involved in the unfortunate tragedy. On the contrary Marco Bellocchio has decided to tell his story in a rather intimate manner which will likely have a greater impact amongst Italian viewers. Those unfamiliar with the political climate in Italy during the 70s will probably see Buongiorno, Notte as a film with a plot too convoluted to fully appreciate.
In addition to the strong story Buongiorno, Notte also boasts a spectacular soundtrack reviving some forgotten hits such as Pink Floyd's Shine On You Crazy Diamond and The Great Gig In The Sky while also playing some classic excerpts from Verdi's Aida. Contrary to some of the criticism that appeared in the Italian media claiming that Bellocchio bet on songs that many are likely to associate with different events, not what Buongiorno, Notte aims to retell, my opinion is that the music selection is absolutely outstanding. The long moments when we see Chiara contemplating what her comrades have done infused by the intoxicating guitar solos of Pink Floyd truly made a powerful impression on me. Buongiorno, Notte is one moody piece of cinema that while imperfect certainly brings back to life an era known for its tragic events.
FIPRESCI Award (Marco Bellocchio) at the European Film Awards (2003); Best Supporting Actor Award (Roberto Herlitzka) at the David di Donatello Awards; 'CinemAvvenire' Award (Marco Bellocchio, Little Golden Lion Award, and Outstanding Individual Contribution Award (for screenplay-Marco Bellocchio) at the Venice International Film Festival.
How Does the Film Look?
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (the original aspect ratio is 1.85:1) and enhanced for widescreen TV's Buongiorno, Notte appears relatively good. I am fairly certain that the film has been mastered from a PAL source and though it has been converted properly to account for the frame/speed discrepancy there are still some flaws that plague this R1 release. The mild "combing" combined with some serious color-bleeding are especially distracting. There seems to be another problem here as well: I do own the Artificial Eye R2 disc and a direct comparison between the two indicates some very strange "breaking" of the image which I have not seen on many of Wellspring's previous releases. When blown through a digital projector the image on the R1 DVD begins to lose clarity and what is even stranger the effect appears only on selected scenes (a very good example is the finale where Aldo Moro is shown walking away from its captors). It almost feels as if someone was trying to "adjust" the image quality while the print was being transferred on the DVD carrier. I am quite puzzled by this occurrence and am ready to bet that this has nothing to do with Wellspring but with whoever produced the actual DVDs. Very disappointing!
How Does the DVD Sound?
I am not impressed with the audio presentation either! First of all the R1 DVD lacks the more elaborate 5.1 Italian track present on the Artificial Eye disc. Fine…but even the 2.0 track which Wellspring have provided has been mastered improperly. Something went terribly wrong with the audio balance here! There are some unusually loud scenes that are followed by "muted" areas that make little sense to me. One such scene is when Chiara first hears the news about Aldo Moro's kidnapping. She rushes to the balcony of her apartment and sees a helicopter circling the area. The audio is most definitely off. I compared the same scene with my R2 disc and there was nothing even remotely similar to what came out of my speakers. This disc is seriously flawed!
The R1 disc appears to have retained the same hour-long documentary that is present on the Italian and UK releases titled "Same Rage, Same Spring". This is a very well-made piece of documentary that attempts to put in perspective the events surrounding Aldo Moro's assassination as well as the impact that it had on the Italian society as a whole. Too bad that people will miss on it as I hardly think that anyone would attempt to see the documentary when the disc is this flawed.
I don't quite know what happened here but whoever mastered this DVD has some explaining to do. Furthermore, I am not even sure Wellspring are aware that there are some technical issues with this release! Hopefully they will figure out the nature of the problem as this is a great film that North American film buffs should be able to see. For now…SKIP IT!