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