Alice Campos (Florinda Bolkan) is a translator. She wakes up one morning after having a strange dream. She gets ready for work as usual. While having her coffee she sees a torn postcard next to her trash bin. On it is a picture of a hotel in Garma. She’s never heard of the Garma Hotel and she’s never seen the postcard before. She puts the picture in the trash and continues on to work.
In the car she mentions the dream to a friend of hers. In the dream an astronaut is abandoned on the moon as part of an evil experiment. She believes the dream was a scene from a movie that she saw years ago. The movie made a terrible impression on her. She says the movie was called “Footprints on the Moon”.
At work Alice delivers a transcript that was due Tuesday. The supervisor tells her that she left Monday in the middle of a session and another translator had to take her place. She is told that it is not Tuesday but three days later. Alice has lost three days of her life and can’t remember what happened. At home she digs the ripped up postcard out of the trash. She decides to go to Garma to see if she can figure out how the postcard fits into her memory lapse.
In Garma things get stranger. She meets a young girl named Paula (Nicoletta Elmi). Paula believes that Alice’s name is Nicole. Others in town also seem to recognize her. Slowly things begin to unravel. Alice gets more information on what happened the three days she is missing in her life but knowing doesn’t necessarily make things all that clearer.
During her search Alice is still haunted by the dream of the astronaut left on the moon and of the horrible experiment that he was part of. And of the man named Blackman (Klaus Kinski) who was in charge of it.
“Footprints on the Moon” AKA “Le Orme” AKA “Primal Impulse” was released in 1975 and was directed by Luigi Bazzoni and an uncredited Mario Fanelli who also wrote the story and screenplay. It is an Italian film that was partly filmed in Turkey. The film is difficult to categorize. Part mystery, part thriller, part giallo, part psychological pretzel. If that’s not a genre, it should be for this film. It is one of the strangest yet compelling films I’ve ever seen. The clues are slowly dealt out and there are red herrings subtly introduced throughout the movie.
It’s a very artsy film to say the least. Some of it may be subject to interpretation and that can be a problem for some. If you’re not into that sort of thing you may find it quite boring. Others may think it just weird and hard to follow.
My view is a bit mixed. I was captivated by the beginning. I was glued to film. If it were a book I would have peaked at the last page to see how it ended. Not that the ending did me any good. I anxiously followed it all the way through, however; the end did not satisfy me.
I have heard interpretations of the film that there really was a stranded astronaut, left behind on the moon as part of a secret and highly unethical science experiment and that his “mental screams” psychically traveled across the void and into the mind of Alice. It’s a fascinating theory but I don’t know if that was the film’s intention or not.
Another interpretation is that Alice suffered from paranoia and developed dissociative identity disorder, ergo the old split personality. The other personality being Nicole. There are no real astronauts and no secret experiments. Being paranoid and addicted to sleeping pills she goes to Garma to find her childhood friend disguised as Nicole believing someone named Blackman is after her. She next wakes up back in Rome as Alice again. Trying to figure out what happened she goes back to Garma as Alice and slowly tries to piece everything together again. Harry tries to help her but she reverts back to Nicole still believing that some strange Blackman group is after her. Another good guess and for the most part plausible. Whether its right or not is again up to interpretation.
There is also a post script at the end of the film that really didn’t make things any clearer. I don’t think I’d be giving out any spoilers to repeat it since it didn’t help me and I believe the ending is subject to one’s own interpretation as well. The post script is in Italian so an English translation would be “On October 15, 1971 Alice Campos is admitted to the Neuropsychiatric Institute of Kustnazt. (Switzerland)”
To add to the difficulty following the film the English dubbed version has a few scenes that are not dubbed but are in Italian. Hopefully nothing important was in those scenes since I don’t understand Italian.
As with beauty, the meaning of the film is in the eye of the beholder.
Klaus Kinski is in the film for all of about 20 seconds.