The Aldo Moro affair in the cinema, a frightening machine for fiction


Esterno note, the series directed by Marco Bellocchio and broadcast on Arte on March 15 and 16, comes to bring a new and decisive contribution to the reflection on an event which traumatized all of Italy. The kidnapping in Rome, on March 16, 1978, and the assassination, after fifty-five days of sequestration, of Aldo Moro, president of the Italian Christian Democratic Party, in power since 1945, by a commando of the Red Brigades made – and keep doing – the object of an abundant literature, an infinity of commentaries and speculations, in Italy and elsewhere.

As if the facts were not enough in themselves and that something had to hide behind the brutality and the evidence of the event. These affirmations of the existence of a hidden causality, different from the versions put forward by the actors in the drama, the Italian State or the Red Brigades – which, in this case, share the same version –, participated, most of the time , if not of a political project, in any case of an ideological vision.

This is nourished by everything that has prevented, or at least obscured, the immediate understanding of the assassination. Every strange coincidence, every hazardous testimony, every unresolved mystery, every unresolved contradiction has fueled all sorts of explanations. These saw, behind the action of the commando, the hand of the secret services and of the Italian State itself, of the CIA, the KGB or the Stasi, even of the Mossad. All kinds of powers, having, it seems, had an interest in the death of Moro, the man of the “historic compromise” – a policy supporting the eventual participation of the Italian Communist Party in a Christian democratic government -, but also the promoter of audacious pro-Arab policy when he was foreign minister.

Read our archive (1978): Article reserved for our subscribers • The assassination of Aldo Moro arouses unanimous disgust in the world • A state funeral will take place on Saturday after the burial

What has been called “dietrology”, from the Italian word dietro, (“behind”), was put at the service of an interpretation of the facts, on the right and especially on the left, consoling and explanatory, in conformity with a certain vision of the world and the political stakes of Italy. A twisted version of what Balzac called “the other side of contemporary history”. The Red Brigades would have been nothing but a group manipulated either by the state or by various foreign powers.

Successive historical interpretations

When the cinema took hold of assassination, it was no doubt confronted with this very confusion and above all with this arboreal fantasy temptation. How, then, can an event be related when various hypothetical causalities are attached to it, generating a multitude of virtual narratives?

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