Director: Luigi Bazzoni
Screenplay: Mario Fenelli, Luigi Bazzoni
Based on a Story by: Mario Fenelli
Starring: Florinda Bolkan, Peter McEnery, Nicoletta Elmi, Ida Galli, John Karlsen, Rosita Torosh, Klaus Kinski, Lila Kedrova
Country: Italy, Turkey
Running Time: 96/94 mins
Year: 1975
BBFC Certificate: 12

Luigi Bazzoni began his directing career making short films alongside his brother, Camillo Bazzoni, and their friend, the legendary cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. The trio soon found work on feature films but Luigi proved to be somewhat selective in what he took on. After his first two features, The Possessed (1965) and Man, Pride & Vengeance (1967), proved to be relatively successful, the director was offered the chance to work on a number of films but turned most of them down because they didn’t suit him. In particular, he was offered a lot of westerns, but this wasn’t a genre he was interested in. Instead, he kept plugging at getting his passion projects off the ground. This resulted in a small but high-quality filmography. As such, Bazzoni isn’t one of the best-known Italian directors of the 60s and 70s, but his work is of great value.

Bazzoni’s final fiction feature film, Footprints (a.k.a. Footprints on the Moon or Le orme), was released in 1975. It was based on a short story by an Argentinian-Italian author named Mario Fenelli, who was a friend of the director. He had long suffered from mental health problems, largely due to his struggles with being a homosexual at a time when it was illegal in his home country. The story he wrote contains some parallels to his own life, particularly his alienation from the rest of the world, alongside surface similarities such as the fact he worked as a translator, much like the protagonist.

I imagine this extra layer of meaning interested Bazzoni, leading to him making one more rare move to the director’s chair.

Giving this relatively little-known Italian genre movie a new lease of life are Shameless, who are releasing Footprints on Blu-ray in the UK from a handsome 4k restoration. Curious, I got hold of a copy and my thoughts follow.

Footprints centres around Alice Cespi (Florinda Bolkan), a translator in Rome, who is plagued by unsettling dreams of a stranded astronaut that seem to stem from an old sci-fi film she watched when she was young.

After waking from one of these dreams, Alice discovers she’s lost a few days from her memory, causing her to get suspended from her job. Back home, she stumbles upon a cryptic postcard depicting a seaside resort named Garma. Fueled by a desperate need for answers, Alice flies over there. In the town, she finds some of the locals seem to recognise her as someone else – a redhead named Nicole. As Alice delves deeper, the lines between reality and illusion blur. The mystery intensifies, forcing her to confront the truth about her lost time and the haunting connection to the astronaut in her nightmares.

Footprints is often considered a ‘giallo’ but, whilst the central mystery might fit the mould, there are no black-gloved killers or elaborately constructed gory murder sequences (as its 12 rating will attest). It is, in fact, a relatively slow-moving film that gradually trickles out small but intriguing twists and turns in its tale to keep you hooked, despite the lack of thrills and spills.

Indeed, Bazzoni is more concerned with mood and atmosphere than plot. Not every detail in the film is explained or makes sense, with much left ambiguous by the end (spoiled a little by a blunt caption that closes the film). The way it all pans out helps Bazzoni get away with this lack of explanation but I don’t think it would matter, regardless, as the film successfully rides on its atmosphere alone.

It’s not necessarily a case of style over substance though. The mis-en-scene, cinematography and production design all work together to symbolically tell the story by making suggestions about our protagonist’s life and psychological state. A key visual choice is the strong contrast between the isolating, soulless, ultra-modern Rome sequences, where the vast, cold architecture and interior design are kept boldly evident, and the scenes in Garma, which are entrenched in the past and placed in the more ‘exotic’ location of Turkey. This helps balance a sense of familiarity and mystery in the latter half of the film, which is key to the story. Then you have the third visual motif, that of the dream and half-remembered/imagined film within it. This is shot in monochrome, a mix of blue-hued sequences on the moon and black-and-white material made to look like the film-within-a-film.

These visuals are not only thought-provoking though, they’re jaw-droppingly beautiful. Bazzoni’s good friend Vittorio Storaro was the cinematographer, so it’s no surprise. The way he plays with light, colour, movement, reflections and framing is sublime. Even if you’re not drawn to the film’s narrative, you could easily just sit back and soak up the visuals. They truly are that stunning to look at.

Paranoia embeds the film, as you might imagine, but there’s an air of melancholy lingering over it too. This is enhanced by Nicola Piovani’s mournful, evocative score. The editing, by Roberto Perpignani (one of Italy’s most highly regarded editors), also aids the atmosphere, through an elegant pace and some highly effective dissolves.

Some might dismiss Florinda Bolkan’s lead performance as a little blank but I think her subtle take on the material reflects the disassociated nature of her character. Reportedly, she lost 11 pounds during production, due to pushing herself too hard in the role.

Without wanting to spoil it, the film’s finale might prove divisive. Some may find the twist simplistic and the scene that follows a little much. Personally, I thought it was pulled off very effectively, ending on a suitably distressing and striking note.

Overall, I’d say that Footprints is a captivating slow-burn psychological thriller that is made all the more intoxicating by some stunning cinematography. It may not be to everyone’s tastes, but if it sounds like your kind of thing I would highly recommend giving it a try.


Footprints is out on 29th April on Blu-ray and digital on-demand, released by Shameless. I saw the Blu-ray version and it looks gorgeous. The picture is detailed and natural, with a nice grain. There’s very little damage, other than the intentional lines and flecks on the film-within-a-film. I’ve used screengrabs throughout this review to give you an idea of how it looks, though these have been compressed.

You get a choice of Italian or English audio. I opted for the Italian and it seemed solid. There was unnecessary reverb on many of the earlier scenes but this will be down to the original mix rather than any remastering.

You get three versions of the film:

1) Director’s Integral Cut – 96 mins
2) Director’s Integral Cut with Italian Credits – 96 mins
3) USA Version – 94 mins


– From 4K-restored sources with new Full 1080P encode
– Limited Numbered Edition with premium slipcover wrap-around featuring New Commissioned artwork + reversible sleeve (with original release artwork) on the Shameless proprietary “Yell’O” Blu-ray case
– ‘Remembering the Moon’ introduction by star Florinda Bolkan
– ‘Master of Light’ interview with Vittorio Storaro
– ‘To the Moon’ interview with Ida Galli aka Evelyn Stewart
– Audio commentary by Film-Critic Genre-Expert Rachael Nisbet
– Original Italian theatrical trailer
– New English Subtitles over the Optional Original Italian + switchable SDH over the English language version
– Full HD 1080P encode from restored 4K scans of the original camera negative in 1.85:1 WIDE-SCREEN

Rachael Nisbet’s commentary is excellent. She provides background information on the cast and crew as well as a healthy dose of insightful analysis. It’s vital listening for anyone interested in digging deeper into the film.

Perhaps the biggest sell on the disc in terms of extras though is a feature-length interview with the great Vittorio Storaro. Over around an hour and 17 minutes, the cinematographer talks about his long friendship with Luigi Bazzoni and his brother Camillo (who even married Storaro’s sister) and the films they made together. It’s inspiring to hear about his early years making short films with the brothers and Franco Nero. He talks about how the people he met during that time helped open his mind to art, photography and literature. Throughout the interview, he reiterates how filmmaking is a collaborative process – it’s not just one person creating it, which makes it quite unique as an art form. Storaro later focuses on Footprints and the intentions of Bazzoni and himself in their approach to the film.

Florinda Bolkan’s interview is much shorter (around 7 minutes) but is still worth a look. She talks of her excitement at being offered the part as it looked challenging and unusual. This leads her to talk about what interests her generally as an actress.

Ida Galli is interviewed too. Over 12 minutes, she talks about how she came on to the film and the close relationship between Bazzoni and Storaro, as well as her own relationship with Bolkan. She only had a small role in Footprints, so doesn’t have a great deal to say about the production but it’s nice to hear about her experiences in the industry. I appreciated her thoughts about the preservation of films like this too.

So, it’s an excellent release of a gem of a film. As such, it gets a strong recommendation.


Where to watch Footprints
Footprints (a.k.a. Footprints on the Moon) - Shameless
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Editor of films and videos as well as of this site. On top of his passion for film, he also has a great love for music and his family.

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