I watched Footprints On The Moon (AKA Le Orme) under the assumption that it was going be yet another Giallo film like Deep Red or Torso to add to my Giallo series of reviews. Many descriptions of the film online, such as Wikipedia and Rotten Tomatoes, classify Footprints On the Moon as a horror film, and even the blurb on the back of the boxed copy I own – a UK release by distribution company Shameless – describes Footprints On The Moon as ‘…the loneliest, most haunting Giallo you will ever see’. However, the film that I experienced was unlike any Giallo I had ever seen, in fact I’d be hard pressed to call Footprints On The Moon a horror film. Instead, Footprints On The Moon is a Hitchcockian psychological thriller about an amnesiac woman (Alice) who can’t remember the last three days of her life, so she travels to a town called Garma to try and find out what happened that caused her to forget about the last three days of her life, and what’s causing her to have frightening dreams about a sci-fi movie she watched when she was younger called ‘Footprints On The Moon’.
Footprints On The Moon is a slow-paced, very quiet, very subdued film, one that keeps exposition to a minimum and tells most of it’s story through its visual qualities. I was surprised to find that Footprints On the Moon was a very well-written, mature film. It was very reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary psychological thrillers because, like Hitchcock’s iconic thrillers, Footprints On the Moon has a pragmatic story with an evolving mystery that revolves around the experiences of a single, well written, well developed protagonist. The story of Footprints On The Moon focuses on the character of Alice, the amnesiac. Alice is an incredibly well-written character who evolves throughout the film’s story. She isn’t just another bland stereotype or Giallo archetype, Alice is a character who’s emotional, empathetic yet she struggles with her own weaknesses and uncertainty. You can feel the weight of her struggle as she tries to remember the last few days because of how ‘human’ she is, and how she develops throughout the course of the film.
Alice is wonderfully portrayed by Brazilian actress Florinda Bolkan (Flavia The Heretic) and her performance definitely helps give the character of Alice a large amount of depth and identity. That’s not to say that the supporting cast aren’t as memorable as Bolkan, British actor Peter McEnery is great and there’s even a performance from the legendary Klaus Kinski, but the focus of the film is on Alice and her journey down the rabbit hole that is her own memories, her mental health and her mysterious alter ego ‘Nicole’.
However, the greatest aspect of Footprints On The Moon is the film’s flawless visual style. Italian cinema in the 1970’s was full of strong visuals and stunning cinematography, but the cinematography of Footprints On the Moon is absolutely flawless. I’ve never seen a film with such a realistic style that was as breathtakingly beautiful as Footprints On The Moon. Every visual aspect was absolutely perfect: from the creative camera angels, to the beautiful lighting and the impeccable framing. All in all, Footprints On the Moon is a visual treat and one of the most visually powerful movies I think I’ve ever seen, with possibly one of the greatest progressive soundtracks I’ve ever heard.
In my opinion, Footprints On the Moon is definitely an overlooked classic of 1970’s Italian cinema. I may have been slightly disappointed by the fact that Footprints On the Moon wasn’t a Giallo film, but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. I thought it was a hypnotically beautiful movie with a very clever plot that builds up to a pragmatic climax that’s powerful, memorable, emotional and depressing. In conclusion, I’d definitely recommend that one experiences Footprints On The Moon for themselves because it’s an unforgettable cinematic experience. It’s a fantastic film that deserves to be a cult classic, instead of being lost to obscurity.