Footprints on the Moon (1975)

This had an enigmatic title, came from a noted Italian genre director, is being marketed under the normal quite crazy Shameless banner, and had a synopsis that sounded rather spicy. So as I was in the mood to try out something with a bit more European flavour than normal, and it didn’t look like yet another giallo slasher, it was worth a punt.

Excuse me whilst I’m effortlessly stylish in every scene

Things start well, with an introduction sequence involving someone getting left behind on the Moon in some kind of mad science experiment and the Rome-based perfectly sensible interpreter Alice (Florinda Bolkan) discovering she’s lost three days of her life. Over a couple of stylishly shot sequences, we find out that she has an appetite for tranquilizers, the Moon sequence is a film she part remembers as a kid, and the missing days have something to do with a place called Garma.

“Set reactors to “bat shit crazy!” “

So far, so spooky and well done. Not the fastest of paces, but there is enough tension and elegance to what’s on the screen to keep it interesting. If nothing else, it’s a decidedly more welcoming environment than 70s British genre films with its light colours, comfortable fashions, and co-workers happy to drop tales of a night of drugs and sexcapades into Alice describing the possible psychotic breakdown that she’s going through.

Nice views

Once the action moves to Garma things are knocked up a notch as we get to experience the breathtaking Turkish seaside, an incredibly creepy hotel, and discover that either Alice has been there before under a different name or she has a red-headed doppelganger. Things get gradually more confusing for her as the plot slowly unravels, the Moon movie becomes more intertwined, and the mystery deepens.

“I am not a prisoner, I’m a free woman!”

Wanting to avoid going too far into the plot, it’s safe to say that Florinda Bolkan does a phenomenal job of a woman wandering through a nightmare. She is allowed to stay strong and to carry the film as its protagonist on a mission of discovery, rather than as a victim of happenstance. It’s also shot in a manner that lets the locations do the work of being inviting, mysterious, and quite delightful.

“ho lasciato il gas acceso?”

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t have enough material to justify its running time. It’s slow, and no amount of nice framing or pleasant natural lighting will offset that. It also suffers from an ending that tries to be ethereal, and leaves you with a decent amount to chew on, but comes across more as inconclusive. If you try to solve the riddle of what actually happened you’ll almost certainly find the answer is that the plot doesn’t actually add up like the writer thinks it does.
This means that, very annoyingly, it ends up being Trash. I don’t want it to be, but when you get to the end of a film and think “oh… is that it?” you don’t have much choice. It’s like an episode of I Racconti Dell’Imprevisto that got out of hand, and whilst I don’t regret watching it I can’t help but feel disappointed about the film it could have been.

The Raggedyman

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