Charles S. Tashiro | Agoura Hills, CA USA | 04/13/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
""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. Aside from the fact that he had a parallel career in the theater, however, he was also the director of the play's first production, in Los Angeles and New York in the forties, starring Laughton. His adaptation of some of Brecht's "alienation effects" is, for the most part, simple and clean, such as using superimposed titles instead of Brecht's on-stage signs announcing the forthcoming action, or having Galileo occasionally speak directly to the camera. There are even one or two trademark "Losey" moments, such as the fraught, nerve jangling scene between the Inquisitor and Galileo's daughter. As with the director's more famous work, there is nothing explicitly violent in the scene, even at a verbal level, yet you sense the implicit threat in every moment.Most of the time, however, the director is clearly serving the playwright, and when the results are this successful, no one should complain."
The strength of a conviction!
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 08/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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.