Reviews of movies and TV focused on women

Review: Luna Nera, season 1

Antonia Fotaras in Luna Nera

Luna Nera (or Black Moon) is an Italian language series on Netflix. It’s a tale of witches and witch hunters set in 17th Century Italy.

Luna Nera is a mix of historical fact and the magic of witchcraft. Overall I found it to be of average quality, but there were some things I liked about it.

The witches' den in Luna Nera
All the tricks of the trade in this secret chamber

The theme of science versus superstition and ignorance is so relevant right now. So is the theme of men fearing women’s power and women fighting to gain their own agency.

The other top notch thing about the series is the female gaze brought by the three female creators and three female directors. Luna Nera was created by Francesca Manieri, Laura Paolucci, and Tiziana Triana. It was directed by Francesca Comencini, Susanna Nicchiarelli, and Paola Randi. The story is about women and their quest for freedom and acceptance.

When young midwife Ade (Antonia Fotaras) is accused of witchcraft, her grandmother sends her and her younger brother to a spot in the forest where they can find refuge.

I’m going to plead ignorance right here, because IMDB has hardly any information about this series. A lot of the characters names and actors names are not there. I’m not intentionally leaving them out.

 Manuela Mandracchia and  Antonia Fotaras in Luna Nera
Welcome to our world

Ade is taken in by a group of witches led by Tebe (Manuela Mandracchia). They give her shelter and training.

Giorgio Belli and  Antonia Fotaras in Luna Nera
A sweet romance

While in the forest, Ade meets Pietro (Giorgio Belli). One of the subplots is a romance between them. Another young woman who was sheltering with Ade had a romantic storyline with a young man from the town. And Tebe and a woman in the enclave were together. Tebe’s girlfriend taught Ade’s brother to use a bow and arrow.

Pietro represented the voice of reason and science. He’d been away in Rome studying medicine. He tried to convince everyone around him that witches were not responsible for all the bad things that happened. Ignorance and fear overcame reason most of the time.

Pietro came back home because his mother was ill. His father, Santo, was the main witch hunter. When Pietro’s mother died, Santo was sure it was the fault of witches. He became more determined than ever to kill them all.

The Cardinal and Santo in Luna Nera
Let’s burn a bunch of witches, okay, Cardinal? That’s Santo in the middle, feeling self-righteous.

Ade’s mother had a book, a powerful book of spells. Tebe wanted it. Ade went back to her old home to fetch it. However, the witchhunters grabbed it and took it to the Cardinal. The Cardinal was full of surprises regarding the book and magic spells. He was quite willing to burn all the women he could catch to keep the book.

Finding the book was a goal for the women.

Manuela Mandracchia in Luna Nera
Tebe was a majestic woman

The series had 6 episodes. In the early episodes, there was no color. It wasn’t black and white, but it was colorless. Gradually, bits of a scene would show some color. A dress or some leaves might be in color. Eventually the color was almost normal. I’m sure this had some meaning in the minds of the creators, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Perhaps the ancient Roman mythology about Proserpina has some connection.

This series is based on a novel, which was the first of a trilogy. I’m assuming that means there will be more seasons of Luna Nera. The ending of this season certainly opened up the way for a new season, because everything and everyone turned on its head at the end. There were surprises and twists that need a second season to explore.

The poster for Luna Nera

Sorry, the trailer doesn’t have subtitles for the Italian. Netflix does, of course.

Have you watched this Italian drama? What did you think of it?

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