Biography / Drama

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 95%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 33%
IMDb Rating 6.6 10 553

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN



Michael Gough as Sagredo
Edward Fox as Cardinal Inquisitor
Judy Parfitt as Angelica Sarti
Topol as Galileo Galilei

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird 7 / 10

Owing a huge debt to Galileo

Have for a long time had a lot of respect for Bertolt Brecht and 'Life of Galileo' is one of his most interesting works, especially from a thematic standpoint. Galileo, his life and observations (ahead of the time in his day) were fascinating and he is still deserving of being a giant influential figure in science and modern physics. Joseph Losey did some very good films, including his work with Harold Pinter and his 'Don Giovanni'. The cast sounded perfect on paper.

They weren't completely on film though, due to the actor who sounded like the perfect choice for their role strangely not working. 'Galileo' is well worth watching and is one despite some big drawbacks one of the better films of the inconsistent American Film Theatre series. As well as one of the more interesting entries, again from a thematic and content standpoint. It is no masterpiece, but there are a lot of good things here in 'Galileo' executed greatly. If one doesn't know of Galileo or know a lot about him, this film has enough to make them intrigued more.

'Galileo' is made with an appealing visual style, with grander sets than the usual ones for the American Film Theatre films and the photography is expansive enough without being overblown. Visually and dramatically, of all the play to film adaptations of the series 'Galileo' is one of the least stagebound. Losey directs with restraint but with confidence, he seemed an odd choice for director on paper as this is different territory for him but he does very well. The script is intelligent without being wordy.

A script too that expertly shows what made Galileo so fascinating, what made his findings so important in the development of science and the challenges he had to face. The story is intelligently done and gutsy on the whole and as said it makes one want to know more about the man. The themes of the play are handled well with some genuine tension in the conflict, and actually it was not so bad a thing that the political elements weren't largely emphasised (they're far from absent though) in my view. The Pope and Inquisitor scene is hair raising. 'Galileo' does stray from the facts, but through no fault of the film as Brecht never intended the play to be a biopic. The cast on the whole are very good, with some expertly controlled and authoritative acting.

With one big exception, as much as it pains me to say it. Can understand completely the criticisms for Topol's Galileo and do agree. Will say right now that there have been criticised performances in film history that to me are nowhere near as bad as cited. There was another performance in the American Film Theatre series that got a good deal of criticism, Lee Marvin in 'The Iceman Cometh'. Actually found him very admirable in his role, and he was against type whereas Galileo sounded tailor made for Topol. Who has the physique but sadly neither the heft or the subtlety, he brought those in 'Fiddler on the Roof' so what happened.

It doesn't help though that the film also misses the point of the character in the play, he is written and portrayed as too sympathetic (or that's how it came across, and this was the case more than once in the play's performance history) whereas Brecht intended for him to be a condemnation. Furthermore, while understanding what their role in the film was meant to be, kind of a Greek chorus explaining events and motivations, the choir did feel out of place and interrupted the action rather than moved it on. A few scenes went on for too long and felt like padding.

Summing up, a few big problems but a lot of strengths. Pretty good and in the better half of the series. 7/10.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 8 / 10

Delayed by HUAC

This fine work by Berthold Brecht and directed by Joseph Losey is brought to us by about a 20 year delay period. That was because of the House Un-American Activities Committee and the blacklisting of both.

Brecht kind of, sort of made his case for HUAC as he went back to East Germany where he was acclaimed a cultural icon. Joe Losey took off for Great Britain where he worked for the most part until his death.

You can see why the mossbacks of HUAC thought Galileo by Brecht was highly subversive stuff. Question church authority and by implication the state because religion was established. No more so than in Italy and its many Catholic city/states.

Galileo Galilei scientist/engineer was a popular well respected fellow who got a hold of a spyglass invented by the Dutchman Hans Lippershey and saw the possibilities for it in astronomy. Already a believer in the theory advanced by Copernicus about the sun being a center of the universe. The telescope allowed Galileo to observe and make more findings. If the Earth is the center of things than what are those bodies orbiting Jupiter for instance?

The Roman Catholic now engaged in a counter attack against all that Protestant type heresy took a dim view of this stuff. Galileo got vigorously questioned for these theories.

Israeli actor Topol plays the bluff and hearty Galileo. He's a man used to his creature comforts and not built for martyrdom as is shown in the play.

The fine cast Losey assembles includes Clive Revill and Georgia Brown as cabaret singers, Michael Lonsdale as Pope Urban, and Edward Fox as the Cardinal Inquisitor. John Gielgud has a great cameo as a cardinal who is beside himself with indignation that anyone would question the workings of the universe, their universe.

Galileo's epitaph despite his failure to martyr himself is the best of all. No amount of proclamations from the state or the pulpit will change the way the universe works.

That IS subversive stuff.

Reviewed by boblipton 7 / 10

Martyrs Of Science

Galileo wheedles, cajoles, and instructs in this filmed stage version of Bertold Brecht's play, as translated by Charles Laughton.

Director Joseph Losey had directed its Broadway debut eight years earlier, and it's offered as a stage show, albeit with cinematographer Michael Rand offering a variety of angles and editor Reginald Beck trying his hardest.

It's one of those shows that is a hagiography, as Topol ages and looks weary, but maintains his childlike wonder. It's got some stage luminaries giving restrained performances -- except for John Gielgud as an elderly, ranting cardinal. The great charm of this production is, of course, seeing these fine stage actors in their natural medium. With Edward Fox, Margaret Leighton, Clive Revill and Tom Conti.

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