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Le orme (1975)

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A woman is tormented by strange dreams of astronauts on the moon. She visits a deserted seaside town whose inhabitants know her even though she does not know them.


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Cast overview:
Alice Cespi
Peter McEnery ...
Nicoletta Elmi ...
Paola Bersel / Paula Burton
Caterina Boratto ...
Boutique Owner
John Karlsen ...
Alfredo Laurenti / Alfred Lowenthal (as John Carlsen)
Esmeralda Ruspoli
Ida Galli ...
Mary (as Evelyn Stewart)
Miriam Acevedo ...
Alice's Supervisor (as Myriam Acevedo)
Rosita Torosh ...
Marie Leblanche (as Rosita Toros)
Luigi Antonio Guerra ...
(as Luigi Guerra)
Professor Blackmann
Mrs. Heim


A woman is tormented by strange dreams of astronauts on the moon. She visits a deserted seaside town whose inhabitants know her even though she does not know them.

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She can remember only fear!


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Release Date:

1 February 1975 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Primal Impulse  »

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User Reviews

FOOTPRINTS (Luigi Bazzoni, 1975) ***
5 June 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

I first heard of this one while searching the 'Net for reviews of another Italian giallo/horror effort, the contemporaneous THE PERFUME OF THE LADY IN BLACK (1974; whose R2 SE DVD from Raro Video, by the way, I recently acquired) – where it's referenced as being in a similar vein but also just as good. Having watched FOOTSTEPS for myself now, I can see where that reviewer was coming from – in that both films deal with the psychological meltdown of their female protagonist. Stylistically, however, this one owes far more to Art-house cinema than anything else – in particular, the work of Alain Resnais and Michelangelo Antonioni (and, specifically, LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD [1961] and THE PASSENGER [1975] respectively); accordingly, some have accused it of being "deadly boring" – an epithet often attached to such 'pretentious' (read: cerebral) fare!

Anyway, the film involves the quest of a woman (Florinda Bolkan) to determine her movements in the preceding three days – of which she seems to have no recollection. Following a series of cryptic clues, she travels to the 'mythical' land of Garma (nearby locations, then, bear the equally fictitious names of Muda and Rheember) – where she encounters several people (including Lila Kedrova as an aristocratic regular of the resort) who ostensibly recall the heroine staying there during her 'blackout'! Most prominent, though, are a young man (Peter McEnery) and a little girl (Nicoletta Elmi, from Mario Bava's BARON BLOOD [1972]) – the former always seems to happen on the scene at propitious moments, while the latter apparently confuses Bolkan with another woman (sporting long red hair and a mean streak!).

While essentially a mood piece, this is nonetheless a gripping puzzle: inevitably, vague events transpire at a deliberate pace – and where much of the film's power derives from the remarkable central performance (which can be seen as an extension of Bolkan's role in the fine Lucio Fulci giallo A LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN [1971]). However, there's no denying the contribution of cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (who provides any number of sweeping camera moves and an effective color scheme – adopting orange/red/blue filters to create atmosphere and coming up with a saturated look for the disorientating, bizarre finale) and Nicola Piovani's fitting melancholy score (the composer is best-known nowadays for his Oscar-winning work on Roberto Benigni's Holocaust-themed tragi-comedy LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL [1997]).

With this in mind, it's worth discussing how FOOTSTEPS was presented in the version I watched: well, being apparently hard-to-get in its original form (I can't be sure whether it's uncut here or not, except to say that the film ran for 89 minutes while the IMDb – lists it at 96), this edition is culled from a fairly battered English-language VHS (the dubbing is surprisingly good, given the international cast) with burnt-in Swedish subtitles to boot (besides, the DivX copy froze for a few seconds at a crucial point in the story around the 82-minute mark)! Still, we do get a welcome bonus i.e. a 9-minute 'Highlights From The Soundtrack' in MP3 format.

I realize I haven't yet mentioned the moon mission subplot, to which Klaus Kinski's presence is restricted: incidentally, around this same time, he had a similarly brief but pivotal role in another good arty thriller with sci-fi leanings (and also set in a distinctive location) – namely, LIFESPAN (1974). As I lay watching the film, I couldn't fathom what possible connection this had with the central plot…except that Bolkan mentioned a recurring dream about a movie she had once seen, though not through to the end, called "Footsteps On The Moon" (a somewhat misleading alternate title for the film itself) – amusingly, she at first recalls the picture as being called BLOOD ON THE MOON (which, of course, is a classic 1948 Western noir with Robert Mitchum and directed by Robert Wise!). That said, I took this 'diversion' in stride as merely one more outlandish touch to the film (given also Bolkan's former employment as a translator at a conference discussing Earth's future) – and certainly didn't expect the astronauts to turn up on Garma's beach at the very end to pursue the female lead, where the sand then turns ominously into the moon's surface…!

The film's plot will probably make more sense on a second viewing – though, to be honest, this is best approached as a visual/aural experience and one shouldn't really expect it to deliver a narrative that's in any way clear-cut and easily rationalized! For the record, the only other Bazzoni effort I'd managed to catch prior to this one was the middling straight giallo THE FIFTH CORD (1971), starring Franco Nero (which I had recorded off late-night Italian TV); some time ago, I did get hold of his Spaghetti Western rendition of "Carmen" titled MAN, PRIDE AND VENGEANCE (1968) – also with Nero and Kinski – as a DivX (after I'd already missed a matinée broadcast of it)…but the conversion had somehow proved faulty and, consequently, the disc wouldn't play properly!

6 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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