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4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Challenged by a new student, tutor and theorist Galileo co-opts emerging telescope technology and discovers irrefutable proof of the heretical notion that the earth is not the center of the universe. But in a rigid society ruled by an uneasy alliance of aristocracy and clergy already undermined by the Plague and the Reformation, science is a threat and enlightenment is a luxury. Faced with either death at the hands of the Inquisition or recantation to a hypocritical but all-powerful Papacy, Galileo must choose between his own life and the restless scientific curiosity that he has spurned family, friends, and wealth to pursue.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Topol, Edward Fox, Colin Blakely, Georgia Brown, Clive Revill
  • Directors: Joseph Losey
  • Writers: Joseph Losey, Barbara Bray, Bertolt Brecht, Charles Laughton, Margarete Steffin
  • Producers: Ely A. Landau, Les Landau
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Kino Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 11, 2003
  • Run Time: 145 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000TPABA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,287 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Galileo" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"Galileo" is one of those movies people serious about cinema more or less "have" to have or see, less for its cinematic achievements than for its pedigree. After all, how many films start with a play by Bertolt Brecht, based on a translation by Charles Laughton, directed by a preeminent film maker (Joseph Losey) with a cast that includes luminaries like John Gielgud, Tom Conti, Edward Fox, Michel Lonsdale, Colin Blakely, Margaret Leighton, and on and on? The results are almost secondary. What matters is who participated.
Fortunately, "Galileo" offers more than a laundry list of Big Names. While it is not a hallmark of cinema, it is an entertaining, frequently lively and at the same time, tragic look at the interplay between private conscience and public responsibility. People familiar with Brecht's work need no introduction to this, one of his most famous plays. Those unfamiliar with his name can enjoy a largely straightforward, suspenseful exposition on Galileo's complex relationship to the history of science.
With the large exception of Topol, in the lead role, the cast is extraordinary, providing one plum moment after another. John Gielgud offers a witty walk on as an apoplectic cardinal, while the scene between Galileo, Cardinal Bellarmin (Patrick Magee) and Cardinal (eventually Pope) Barberini (Lonsdale) is a playful feint, a series of verbal parries and thrusts, dextrous, but deadly serious. My favorite scene, however, is the famous "dressing of the Pope" sequence in which the Cardinal Inquisitor (Fox) convinces the Pope to force Galileo to recant.
Viewers who know Losey's work only through his movies may be surprised at the idea of him directing such a project.
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Format: DVD
Joseph Losey made a successful stage in Broadway, 1947 with this personage starred by Charles Laughton. That fact proves Galileo was always for him an emblematic icon, a true hero in the best sense of the term.

That is why we should not surprise ourselves this talented filmmaker would undertake this issue in 1974 with praising comments.

Topol made the best role of his lifetime with this penetrating and incisive portrait about the life and hard challenges that Galileo Galilei had to face against the Holy church's points of view as well as the Holy scriptures.

The untamed investigative spirit of this passionate scientist who, based on the main Copernicus's statement always rejected the idea the Earth was the center of the universe always collided against the ferocious mental barrier of the establishment by then.
Joseph Losey was indeed one of the most irreverent and questioners filmmakers ever born. In this sense, this issue came to him like ring to finger at the moment to make a poignant adaptation of Bertold Brecht' s play with amazing results.

Edward fox as the Inquisitor, Michael Londsdakle as Bertelmi Cardinal and John Gielgould as the Pope are terrific bestowing this work the deserved status that still owns. The movie has surmounted the test of time to become one the most sincere and emblematic films around the freethinking ever made.

A classic and a must in your collection. Don't miss it.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I recently ordered "Galileo" (filmed version of a stage-play brought to Cinemas as part of the American Film Theatre project, circa 1974/1975). I mainly bought it due to the fact that it stars Chaim Topol = the marvelous actor who perfectly portrayed Milkman Tevye (the upstandingly pious-patriarch) and lead protagonist in "Fiddler on the Roof" (from the superb 1971 film-version)!

In 'Fiddler' Topol gave a magnificent rendering of Tevye, with all the rambunctious-authority and especially Large-doses of genuine warmth & humor (and perplexing-irony) that the role demands!

A great talent like Topol should have gone on to even greater things (although not much could be greater than "Fiddler") but perhaps a near equal challenge would be to portray the 'father of modern Science' himself = "Galileo"!

In any event, I ordered this DVD from the American Film Theatre project (actually from AMAZON) mainly to see Topol's other great English-language achievement (I think he has made a number of films in Israel). And watched "Galileo" and thoroughly enjoyed it (except for the somewhat distracting 'child-choir' intermittent interruptions, that were apparently not in the original play) ==> and only afterwards did I do more research to understand some of the background of this particular play's inception (an intriguing, although somewhat perplexing 'story-behind-the-Story').
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Format: DVD
I use this play as a part of the astronomy course I teach and have found it excellent. It brings historical characters, conflicts, and ideas alive to students who would otherwise find it dry. The main problem is that almost every minute is filled with profound thoughts and it takes a great deal of concentration - and multiple viewings - to appreciate the whole content. I get around this by having students watch specific, brief segments on the postings of the play on YouTube and answer questions. Then I show the whole video in class. (This is also a great way to deal with the need for an instructor to miss a class; students can watch the clips before the day the instructor must miss and then have a substitute show the entire video.) To assure students pay close attention, I have a list of questions that they answer and turn in at the end of class.

I also have students read a few pages of Galileo's account of his discoveries before having the students see the clips. For example, I have the students read his description of the mountains on the moon and the moons of Jupiter. Then, in the scene where Galileo shows his friend the moons of Jupiter and mountains of the moon, students understand the significance of the conversation.

Including a play also helps enhance interest in science among students whose interests are more in fine arts, theater, and history. It also provides an additional mode of learning for students who do not learn as well from traditional lectures and reading.

I highly recommend this as a resource for an introductory astronomy class.
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