I was quite bored yesterday night, so I opened my TV’s Netflix and came across the TV show called Luna Nera. Nothing caught my eye initially. Until that sounding name appeared along with its featured image.
Okay. Let’s give it a try then, I tell myself. I put the trailer on, I find myself intrigued by what I see. In the end, I press play.
Luna Nera and its story
So, what’s the story of Luna Nera about? Well, you might have guessed it from the title already. It’s Netflix’s newest fantasy TV show following the story of Ade and her brother Valente, in 17th century Italy hunting witches era.
If you read from here on, mind you, there are spoilers ahead. So read at your own discretion!
So, what do witches have to do with Ade and her brother? Well, in an attempt to warn a noblewoman about her soon to be dead child inside her womb, she finds herself hunted when her warning comes to fruition.
Along with her grandmother who we later find out it was actually her mother in an old granny disguise, they flee the place.
Her mother/grandmother having lived already on the run for being a witch, knows what’s about to come. So she takes Ade and they return home, before the actual hunting of them two starts.
In the end, the Benandanti – the witches hunters, do come after them, but her grandmother sacrifices herself, not before telling Ade to take her brother and run into the depths of the wood. There, she’ll find help and shelter. Having nowhere to go to and being shunned by everyone else, Ade follows her grandmother’s advice. She runs in the end there, while her grandmother is condemned to death.
In there, she finds the help she has been told about, and a new way of life starts for her.
Characters and backstories
One of the things I really liked about Luna Nera is that we have a quite diverse list of characters. With diverse backstories.
We have Ade, who from what we know until now, is a poor countryside girl, being raised by a grandmother along her brother, Valente. Her grandmother is later revealed to be her mother, actually. That is how she inherits her powers, and finds herself being a witch as well.
We have Valente who is her brother, with a keen interest on drawing a particular drawing as the series unfolds. Without giving you more spoilers, I’ll just say that you’re in for quite a surprise regarding him.
We have the witch club, so to speak, ruled by Tebe. She is their leader and the one who has managed to protect and care for everyone up until now. I really liked her design.
Like the others, she has a quite sad past. Married to a much older guy than herself, as a child. Later on, when the guy dies, she’s accused of killing him, of course.
But she escapes, and as she gathers the others, she meets Leptis, and she’s very much into a relationship with her.
Other characters are Pietro and his father Sante, along their “adopted” brother/sister (so to speak) respectively – Spirto and Cesaria.
Sante is Pietro’s father who has sent him to study the sciences in Rome. He comes back home to help heal his mother of her sickness. Spirto and Cesaria are the two kids that are somewhat adopted by them. They serve the family as blacksmith and guardsmen. Part of Benandanti along with Sante, who were hunting the witches.
Pietro and Ade get into a relationship, torn between the nature of what Ade is and his father witch hunt ideals. The same can be said about Spirto and Persepolis, who is also a witch, friend of Ade’s.
The whole plot of the show revolves around these complex situations and by the end of it, it unfolds quite intriguing, to say the least.
Themes of Luna Nera
One of the things I like most about the show is its themes.
We have the theme of acceptance of who and what we are. This theme can be explored through Ade’s perspective in her journey to come to terms of the fact she is a witch. Or through Tebe and Leptis relationship. Tebe is the first to accept Leptis for who she is – a lesbian. And not only that, but she becomes her lover.
Likewise, the same theme can be found in Cesaria’s journey. No matter everything that she does, the fact that she is a female is quite the downfall in the eyes of Benandanti’s captain Sante. Her adoptive father.
At some point, he even tells her what a great general she’d make. Too bad she is a woman.
Another theme explored is paganism vs. religion. Likewise religion vs. science. It is shown to us that religion is the imposed authority. That no matter how right can paganism be, or science for that matter, it doesn’t count. Religious leaders and the creed impose themselves as the authority.
All while the leaders use the same methods the pagan witches do – incantations, spells and whatnot.
Which brings me to my next theme: patriarchy and the great collective feminine wound.
The great collective feminine wound
You see, despite being maybe not the best TV show out there, I believe Luna Nera is one of the few shows that treats correctly this aspect.
We all know that witch hunt was real back in the 17th century. We all know that a large number of women were killed back then. Witches or not. All it took was for a man to label her as a witch and she’d be killed.
This is an aspect that treats that aspect with quite an accuracy. All throughout the course of the show.
Which brings me to the next theme: toxic masculinity enabled by patriarchy and its hypocrisy.
Men are permitted to roam free and do as they please with women. Persecute them, mistreat them, kill them. Because of the power women possess. But it’s that same power they use in the end, to get their agenda going.
Funny, isn’t it? This not only shows the hypocrisy, but the sick search for absolute power and dominance. Which only brings an unbalanced environment. And that brings other atrocities along with it. I mean, look at the world around us today…
Nature is all about balance, and balance requires both the feminine and masculine working together.
But yeah, all in all, this show isn’t about both parts working together here. It’s about the wound the masculine inflicted on the feminine. And about how women around that time managed to survive.
I’m really eager to see where this leads. As of now, the show ended on its 6th episode of the season. I really hope there will be another season because the end was quite a bit unexpected.
What will Ade do from here on? How will the witches survive? What other trials will everyone undergo?
For a show that I had little expectations, Luna Nera sure surprised me pleasantly. Yes, the pacing might be too fast for someone’s taste. The acting might not be the greatest. I’ve seen better. But the way themes are treated? Priceless! That’s what made me really love it.
So, until the next season, I’m patiently waiting.
I’m eager to see if there are others out there watching it. If you’re reading this right now and have seen it, I’d really love to hear your thoughts.
Lots of love,