Monday, May 6, 2019


"My name is Alice. I am Alice Campos. This time I shall not run away....." 

      Directed by Luigi Bazzoni and often classified as a Giallo, FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOON is a ghostly, hazy and dream-like tale of fractured memories, that like many a Giallo has as its basic plot a mystery wrapped in deliberate ambiguities. However, free of black-gloved killers and corpses, it has a slow (often maddeningly so upon first viewing) plot that feels like a dream half-remembered that can't be fully recalled after waking, but slowly small details emerge. Originally titled LE ORME (meaning simply "the footsteps") even the films credits are draped in ambiguity with director Bazzoni (who also directed the astonishing THE FIFTH CORD in 1971) listed the third writer, while author from whom the original story adapted Mario Fanelli is often credited as a co-director.
    Alice Campos (an amazing Florinda Bolkan) loses her job as a translator when her boss informs that she hasn't been to work for three days. Returning to her apartment and unable to recall the missing days of her life, she finds there a bloodstained yellow dress. a torn postcard and a single earring. Seeing that the postcard is from the Turkish resort island of Garma she travels there in the hope of finding answers. Along with the yellow dress we also see Alice has a book with a yellow cover (the term "Giallo" refers to the often-yellow colored mystery/thriller book popular in Italy) and later we see yellow-tinged flashbacks to her earlier life.

     She also suffers from dreams that we're shown in the film's opening scene where a Prof. Blackman (a typically deranged performance from Klaus Kinski) is conducting an experiment with a sole astronaut being stranded on the moon and keeping track of his mental and physical breakdown. Alice references this as a movie in which she walked out as a child and continues to haunt her. At first, this would seem to be a crazy plot point out nowhere, but as we watch Alice's fragile mental state throughout the movie you begin to see the correlation between her and the stranded astronaut along with the desolate setting of the moon and her destination of the unsettling and empty resort town. The Kinski and moon footage are shot in grainy scratchy B&W or green tinting which adds to the nightmare quality of these scenes
    Once in Garma Alice checks into an almost empty and abnormally quiet hotel and soon meets several people, one being a young girl named Paula (Nicolette Elmi the red-haired veteran of Italian horror) who refers to her as "Nicole" and claims she had visited before. There's also Henry (Peter McEnery TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS) who references a past love affair with her. Alice initially plays along with Henry and dismisses Paula, but she slowly begins to believe them as she finds several items that jog her memory and other people who recognize her.

    Often leaving more unanswered questions then solutions as it moves along, the plot seems to drift between reality and dream while for certain languid segments the narrative comes to a complete stop using only Vittorio Storaro's beautiful cinematography to carry the story. Storaro, who had also shot Bazzoni's THE FIFTH CORD, can justly be called the greatest cinematographer in the world. Working in that magical time in cinema, he could shoot major Italian projects like THE CONFORMIST and 1900 while also on films such as this and Argento's THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE along with American studio films such as APOCALYPSE NOW and REDS.
    With this type of narrative, the film rests entirely on the shoulders of its lead actress and in the role of Alice/Nicole, Bazzoni couldn't have done better than the Brazilian born Florinda Bolkan. A strikingly beautiful actress who could alternately project both strength and an inner vulnerability, she's one of the finest actresses in Italian cinema of the era. Alternating between giallos and more art-house style cinema such as Visconti's THE DAMNED, she's memorable in Fulci's A LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN and magnificent as a rebellious nun in Gianfranco Mingozzi's FLAVIA THE HERETIC.
    Instantly recognizable to fans of Italian horror ("that little girl with the red hair & freckles in those Italian movies") Nicoletta Elmi appeared in Aldo Lado's WHO SAW HER DIE, Bava's BARON BLOOD, as one Udo Kier's creepy kids in FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN and Argento's DEEP RED and later all grown-up in Lamberto Bava's DEMONS. She's quite good in FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOON and her dialogue scenes with Florinda are my favorite performances by her a film.
    Shameless put this out on DVD several years ago with several scenes added from a lesser source, but hopefully, one day will get a beautiful restored Blu of this wonderful film.

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