I couldn’t seem to gather much on The Night of the Shooting Stars before I started it, which naturally made me somewhat hesitant toward the prospects of this one. All I could find was that it was another WWII film, and that there were some fantasy elements added, but that was about it. Now, after seeing it, I understand why there is an apparent lack of info about this one; it basically sticks to the surface level of its story without delving any deeper into what the story could really be. I’ve used the analogy before about how some films are so featureless that they’re like looking at a bare white wall and trying to describe it in-depth to others. The Night of the Shooting Stars is another of these films.
In a small town in Italy, on the cusp of the end of World War II, the German forces will eventually retreat through the village, basically destroying everything in their wake as a final act of retribution against the Allied forces coming to liberate the country. The town has been informed that anyone not wishing to die by either the Germans bombing the town or by the foot-soldiers coming through is to go to the cathedral in the town, which will be left alone. A small group of townsfolk don’t buy it, however, and they defy the 3 am deadline imposed by the Germans to head out on their own and find the liberating American troops that are rumored to be nearby. If that plot summary seems a little too far removed from the actual story, that’s because it is. If you were to ask me the names of the main characters, I wouldn’t be able to tell you; if you asked about the plot developments, I’d point to the above and basically say “that”. This is the highest I’ve ever seen a high concept film; one that doesn’t bother to flesh out its premise into a full story with engaging characters, but instead takes the premise and goes with only that for a solid 100 minutes. It made for a rather unengaging watch, even if it was somewhat of an easy one thanks to the film’s good production work and fairly solid editing. There was one foible I found with the editing, however; the film would occasionally make use of a wipe cut, like from Star Wars, which seemed really out of place and immediately took me out of the film whenever it appeared.
This is an interesting one for me to try and review, especially looking over other people’s reviews of it; I agree with pretty much everything that’s been said, both positively and negatively, and yet, at the same time, I find myself with nothing to say about it. Sure, it’s real, it’s committed, it’s tragic, it’s hopeful, it’s all of these things. But it is also unremarkable, run-of-the-mill, with a production that’s virtually invisible (aside from the wipe cuts), which can be a good thing, but here it leaves the film with no features to make note of. The Night of the Shooting Stars has its place in the genre of WWII films, but at the same time, its place doesn’t seem all that justified in the face of all the other films of the genre. This ended up being another superfluous entry in the list for me, and it was a bit of a shame that I had to wait this long to watch this, as I would’ve preferred to get films like this over with somewhere in the middle of my quest. Oh well, one more down.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10