Friday, January 29, 2016

690. La Notte di San Lorenzo

La Notte di San Lorenzo
Night of the Shooting Stars
Directed by Vittorio Taviani and Paolo Taviani

I don't know how many World War II movies are in The Book, but the number has to be astrological (get it?  Because of stars).  I am not complaining and we are certainly getting a wide range of perspectives.  Still, that makes it hard for a World War II film to stand out from the crowd.  This was an entertaining experience, but I am not sure it made that much of an impression on me.

At the end of World War II, German armies are retreating from Italy, but leaving behind paths of destruction.   A small village is told that they are soon to be bombed, so must congregate in the church. Half the town decides to put their faith in God (and presumably the Germans) and take shelter in the church while the other half decides to dress in dark clothing and attempt to find the Americans, who are rumored to be liberating towns all over Italy.  We mostly follow the people who flee, which includes the young Cecilia.

Let's start with what makes this film special.  First of all, we get the little girl perspective and she, strangely, seems to be having the time of her life throughout most of the film.  The film also sometimes blends fantasy with reality, but by my count there are only two "fantasy" scenes which was kind of startling.  If you are going to go the "Pan's Labyrinth" route, you should probably balance the scales a bit more.  Still, I was invested in the story.  I found myself thinking at one point "nothing better happen to these people!"  If threatening your monitor isn't a sign of a good film, I don't know what is.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The church bombing scene was based on the real life explosion in San Miniato, which is the Taviani brothers' birthplace.


  1. I will defend the high numbers of films that at least feature, or revolve around the war. Cinema reached one of it's greatest eras whilst the war was on, and obviously it addressed the subject - from whatever side and perspective. The end of the war left such a traumatic and physical scar on Europe that it continued to attract attention ever since.
    I know Andrew thinks there are too many War films in the book. But not every film that mentions or ven takes place during the war is a 'War Film'. The war is used as an important and formative back drop. If, say, in the early 40's there had been no war, but instead .. lets say .. a return of The Black Death .. wiping out perhaps half the population, but also (somehow) devastating buildings, infrastructure and great works of art and culture. That event would have dominated cinema to this day.

    1. Good point Ray! I didn't realize Andrew didn't like all the war movies (although I know he isn't too interested in political stuff).