The Moro Affair

  • 1986
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Historical

This documentary-like film of the tragic kidnaping and subsequent execution of Italian Christian Democrat president Aldo Moro in 1978 caused a firestorm of controversy among Italian politicos and played to packed movie houses throughout Italy. The faithful reconstruction of the complicated events which unfolded over 54 days from March to May, 1978, is presented...read more

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This documentary-like film of the tragic kidnaping and subsequent execution of Italian Christian Democrat president Aldo Moro in 1978 caused a firestorm of controversy among Italian politicos and played to packed movie houses throughout Italy. The faithful reconstruction of the

complicated events which unfolded over 54 days from March to May, 1978, is presented in a concise and straightforward manner by director Ferrara. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-nominated book Days of Wrath by American reporter Robert Katz (who contributed to the screenplay), the film begins as Moro

(Volante), the first man in 40 years to have unified all the political parties of Italy--including the Communist party--is waylaid en route to church by a band of Red Brigade terrorists. His five bodyguards brutally slaughtered, the soon-to-be president of Italy is whisked away to a secret

"people's prison" where he is interrogated by the terrorists and ordered to reveal information that could damage the new coalition. Meanwhile, Moro's own party, the Christian Democrats, and the newly empowered Communist party, vow to take a hard line on the situation and refuse to recognize or

negotiate with the Red Brigades. A massive manhunt is launched in an effort to find Moro, but the search is conducted in a haphazard and perfunctory manner (twice police knocked on the door of the apartment where Moro was being held, and twice they left without further investigation). Moro, who

before his kidnaping had advocated a "soft line" when dealing with terrorists, is allowed to send letters to his government suggesting an exchange of prisoners to be negotiated by the Vatican. As the government continues to drag its feet, Moro's letters become increasingly critical of his own

party. In an effort to sway public opinion away from Moro, his party and the press begin to portray him as a desperate, drug-addled madman who has succumbed to torture, and even the validity of his letters is called into question. Although the Vatican also subscribes to the "hard line," Pope Paul

VI makes a personal plea to the Red Brigades for the unconditional release of Moro. At the same time the Socialist party, and Moro's family, also break with the "hard line" and begin to push for an exchange of prisoners. Knowing that he has been totally abandoned by the very government he created,

Moro makes a last-ditch attempt to save himself by sending a flurry of letters urging a grass-roots rebellion against his party. Frustrated at the lack of progress, the Red Brigades announce that the "People's Tribunal" has sentenced Moro to death. There is much internal dissension among the Red

Brigade membership over whether or not to execute Moro, but it is finally decided that he must die lest the terrorists lose their credibility. The Socialists make some headway in the negotiations and get the Red Brigades to agree to exchange Moro for one terminally ill imprisoned brigatista. At

first outgoing chief of state Giovanni Leone agrees to grant the pardon, but he then begins stalling tactics and ultimately refuses under pressure from the Christian Democrat leadership. During a private meeting between Socialist and Christian Democrat leaders, news is received that Moro's

bullet-riddled body has been found stuffed in the hatch of a red Renault parked between the headquarters of the Christian Democrats and the Communists. As a black-and-white still of Moro's body recedes into the frame, Moro's funeral wishes are heard: "...I do not want the men of power around me. I

want near me those who truly loved me and will continue to love me and pray for me."

Fueled by a superb performance from Gian Maria Volante, who was given the Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival, THE MORO AFFAIR is a gripping, vexing, and ultimately sad cinematic version of tragic historical events that continue to be controversial. Upon its release in Italy the Christian

Democrats condemned the picture, mostly because it once again raised some nagging questions about the whole affair that they would prefer forgotten: What happened to Moro's briefcase full of sensitive documents that the Red Brigades failed to notice during the kidnaping? Why was the investigation

that was conducted by Italian antiterrorist police so incompetent? Were they actually responsible for acts blamed on the Red Brigades (acts undertaken as a way of keeping the official Communist party off balance and in line)? Who was the author of the phony Red Brigade communique stating that Moro

had committed suicide and was buried at the bottom of a frozen lake which could only be reached by helicopter? Director Ferrara moves quickly through the chronology of events and never seems unfair or biased. He merely presents the documented facts and lets the audience decide, however

uncomfortable that might be for the Italian government and press.

Politics aside, the film is also a moving examination of a man who maintains his values, dignity, and honor during a crisis that sorely tested his love of country and eventually claimed his life. Volante's sensitive performance is all the more impressive when one recalls that the actor had turned

in a mocking portrayal of Moro in Elio Petri's devasting indictment of the Christian Democrats TODO MODO (1976). Petri's film was made in the days when the Left saw Moro as a decadent establishment buffoon, just before his true political character had fully emerged. The fact that Volante, a

staunch Leftist, could completely forsake his earlier view of Moro and convey the truly heroic and noble aspects of this complicated man is very moving in and of itself. Ferrara elicits memorable performances from his entire cast as well, especially Lozano as Moro's dedicated and strong-willed

wife. Although the movie was shown at film festivals in the US this year, American audiences may not fully fathom the complicated Italian political system and the scrupulously detailed account of the events that have been a source of controversy ever since. Nonetheless, THE MORO AFFAIR is

certainly worth the effort for those even marginally interested in the destruction of Aldo Moro.

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  • Released: 1986
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This documentary-like film of the tragic kidnaping and subsequent execution of Italian Christian Democrat president Aldo Moro in 1978 caused a firestorm of controversy among Italian politicos and played to packed movie houses throughout Italy. The faithful… (more)

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