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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.Read more ›
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.
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').Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent film, part of American Film Theater subscription series.Published 18 months ago by Dennis S. Furbush
I purchased this DVD on the Galileo play for my Theatre DVD Collection.
I saw the play on TV years ago and found the story presented about Galileo and the
issues of... Read more
Good story telling, good social commentary, good acting, and good presentation in a stylized presentation not often seen and not always done as well. Read morePublished on March 30, 2013 by Sticky Poo
An enjoyable, high energy, and imaginative account of Galileo's efforts to acquaint society in the 1600s with his scientific discoveries. Read morePublished on April 1, 2010 by Mary M
American Film Theatre sought to finance film productions of famous plays through theatres and patrons who subscribed to the film series, and between about 1973 and 1975 was... Read morePublished on May 28, 2009 by Gary F. Taylor