Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone

Tense Allegorical Thriller

by Tony Nash

(A Part of the Cycle of the Melodic Gialli)

(All opnions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(This review is of the original Italian language version)

Image result for le orme 1975

Le Orme (Footprints/Footprints on the Moon) (1975) PG-13 ****

Florinda Bolkan: Alice Campos/Nicole

Peter McEnery: Harry, the Carpenter Tourist

Nicoletta Elmi: Paola Bersel

Klaus Kinski: Professor Blackmann

Ida Gialli: Mary, the Analyst (as Evelyn Stewart)

Lila Kedrova: Iris Ines

John Karlsen: Alfredo Laurenti

Written by: Mario Fenelli & Luigi Bazzoni, based on Fenelli’s novel Las Huellas

Directed by: Luigi Bazzoni

Synopsis: A Portuguese woman living in Italy begins suffering memory lapses, resulting in her losing three days upon abruptly running from her job as a government translator. She reveals to a friend that when she was younger, she had seen a Horror Science Fiction film called Footprints on the Moon, about inhumane government experiments done on astronauts, which apparently heavily traumatized her. Deciding to take a vacation to clear her mind and rest, she chooses an island she noticed on a postcard, but soon realizes her nightmares are slowly becoming a reality.

Image result for le orme 1975

Luigi Bazzoni, in his final film as a director, offers up a complex and compelling psychological Thriller involving the mind. What begins as a standard Mystery about a woman’s search for answers upon learning she can’t remember the past three days of her life slowly turns into a journey into paranoia and uncertainty. People she’s certain she’s never seen before seem to know quite a bit about her, albeit her with a different name, and that she seemed determined to get away from people chasing her, and trying to find someone from years ago. Childhood trauma comes into play as the protagonist seems to equate everything to a movie she saw as a child in which cruel scientists subject unsuspecting astronauts to horrific experiments, leading both viewers and the protagonist herself to wonder if the movie had real life implications or if her mind is playing tricks on her. Soon, what the woman believes to be reality and fantasy begin to turn on its head, and she finally begins to worry something happened in those three days that were terrible and she, for one reason or the next, blocked it out of her mind.

Image result for le orme 1975

Florinda Bolkan, a Brazilian who became a star in Italy, is a surprising success in the lead role of Alice Campos, alias Nicole. An overworked translator for the Italian embassy, she starts having recurring nightmares about a Sci-Fi film she was terrified of as a child. This lack of sleep and the overuse of tranqulizers does little to help her, and apparently has made things worse in her life. When her superior at work informs her she missed three days after mysteriously just walking out of a session one day, she becomes determined to find out what happened. While she remembered feeling unusually flustered at work, and just leaving with witnesses looking at her, nothing else seems to connect. The tropical island of Garma somehow keeps popping up for Alice, she decides to take a vacation and find answers to what the paradise has to with her amnesia and dreams. When a girl she encounters claims she knew Alice under the name Nicole and that she was rambling about people chasing her, Alice becomes more frustrated and confused. When her dreams become more and more vivid and she suspects something far more sinister is afoot and she’s in real danger. What Alice also fears, but never explains in words, is that she might very well be losing her mind.

Image result for le orme 1975

Klaus Kinski, the equally famous and infamous German character actor, has a small, but important part as Dr. Blackmann. Appearing only in Alice’s dreams, Blackmann is the apparent antagonist of Footprints on the Moon, the film within the film. Blackmann is a scientist that has apparently no qualms or morals whatsoever when it comes to proving a theory regarding astronaut survival on the Moon should something happen that strands them there. This theory or the reasons behind it are never explained, other than that the test subjects should be surviving whatever it is they are left with on the planet. Each scene is only of Blackmann repeating the subject should be surviving, only to watch the man slowly suffocate and die, cursing the experiment should have been a success and to find another “Guinea Pig” to send up. This inhumanity is what terrified Alice the most as a child, hence why those moments appear to be the ones that most repeat in her nightmares and visions. How Alice connects Blackmann to herself is a case of paranoia and the ultimate fear that what happened in the film would happen in real life.

Image result for le orme 1975

Image result for le orme 1975

British actor Peter McEnery and Italian child actress Nicoletta Elmi play characters with positive connections to Alice. Each wants in their own way to help her, as they realize something troubles her, but at the same time become fearful for, and of, her as her rationality seems to constantly go from calm to erratic for little to no reason.

(Author’s Note: I can’t tell you too much about these characters as spoilers would be involved, and these moments give a lot to the revelation at the end.)

Image result for le orme 1975

Image result for le orme 1975

Both memorizing and frustrating, complex and simple, delirious and coherent, Le Orme is the most experimental of the Thriller Giallo ever made. While hard to understand at times, and the consistent red herrings and even some misleading dialogue from actors as to even get a hint of what Alice’s problem is, the film does pack a pretty good punch when the ending is reached, and everything truly comes into place and what audiences weren’t sure of before come clear.

(I do recommend giving this film a try, though I do forewarn the experience will go from the typical Mystery Thriller into an allegory of a person slowly going mad trying to find answers to questions they’re not even sure they want to know. This isn’t to say the film isn’t any good, it’s really well made and Bazzoni truly keeps the secret a secret until the very end, but how the conclusions are reached can feel a little out of left field and unexpected, but it’s worth it in the end. Shameless Screen Entertainment/Shameless Films does a good job with the restoration and rebuilding of the film, and provides both the original Italian dub with subtitles and the English dub, scenes that were previously missing from prior releases available in Italian only.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

for more information

buying option




Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

%d bloggers like this: