Footprints (Le orme) review

Doralba checks out a clever little film that's hard to pin down...

There is not a great deal I can tell you about this movie, because whatever words I choose to use, I risk to give too much away.

I have read somewhere that this film defies classification in any given genre. Some call it sci-fi, others a thriller, some a drama, some a horror. (Let me tell you now, it is definitely not a horror movie.) Perhaps the most accurate definition you will find is a ‘giallo’, but much as I loathe putting things into categories, I would probably define it a paranoid thriller, a sub-genre that was particularly thriving in those cold war years that it originated in (Footprints dates back to 1975). ‘Psychological thriller’ would also fit.

You are getting the picture: Le orme is a clever film that gives you a lot of atmosphere and a mystery to solve.

The main character in this story is Alice Cespi (played by Florinda Bolkan), a translator who appears to have had a blackout for a few days, and sets out to find out what happened in those lost hours. She is haunted by visions, and whether they are memories, premonitions, fantasies or dreams, we are not privy to until the very end.

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Alice travels to the island of Garma, spurred on by a postcard she finds in her belongings, and starts investigating. There she finds evidence of an alter ego that she has no memory of, and a sense of dread and fear accompanies her as she tries to piece all this information together.

The movie gives a wonderful surreal, dreamlike and chilling feel at the same time. Director Luigi Bazzoni was helped in this little gem of a movie by masterful cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and Nicola Piovani’s wonderfully atmospheric soundtrack.

Bolkan has a mesmeric presence, although she – alongside most of the cast – sounds quite wooden in the original English track, the Italian dubbed version, paradoxically, reveals much better acting.

In terms of the type of gialli that were produced in Italy in the 70s, Footprints is certainly a sedate one: no gratuitous nudity, no-one on the hunt for a killer, just a great setting and buckets of atmosphere.

The Klaus Kinski cameo is a very short one. His participation to the movie must have amounted to an afternoon of filming, which must have been one of the shortest on-set acting experiences of his career!


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I would avoid looking at the extras, especially the original trailers (the teaser for the American release of the movie, re-titled Primal Impulse is, again, way too telling), as I feel they reveal too much of the action in the latter parts of the film, and that would definitely spoil your enjoyment of it.

There is a picture gallery, which consists of images of the film posters from around the world, and for some reason, a few of the images contain what I would call spoilers, so refrain from looking at them before you watch the movie, if you can.

There is not a lot in the extras: a collection of foreign film posters for the movie is all the picture gallery contains. There are two trailers and two language tracks (English and Italian), both with their own subtitles as well.


3 stars

Footprints (Le Orme) is out now.


3 out of 5