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NOVA - Galileo's Battle for the Heavens
NOVA - Galileo's Battle for the Heavens
Actor: Stacy Keach; Peter Thomas (VI); Don Wescott
Director: Nova
Genres: Indie & Art House, Television, Educational, Documentary
NR     2006     2hr 0min

At a time when heretics were burned alive for dissent, scientist Galileo Galilei risked his life to advance his revolutionary concepts of the universe. British actor Simon Callow (Shakespeare in Love, Four Weddings and a ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Stacy Keach; Peter Thomas (VI); Don Wescott
Director: Nova
Genres: Indie & Art House, Television, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Television, Educational, Biography, History, Science & Technology
Studio: WGBH Boston
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/28/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2002
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2002
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

New York Times' rave review (and a correction)
Pilot | Chicago | 03/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Amazon has the wrong description of this show. It's really an Emmy winning 2 hour Nova Episode with Simon Callow as Galileo, first broadcast in 2002.


''GOOD philosophers, like eagles, fly alone, not in flocks like starlings,'' declares the father of modern science in ''Galileo's Battle for the Heavens,'' a two-hour special on PBS's ''Nova''
The same goes for intelligent television shows...With this handsome, unabashedly earnest production, ''Nova'' demonstrates a continuing willingness to believe in viewers who are interested in how ideas have taken hold.

The two-hour program, written and produced by David Axelrod, recalls the uproar over Copernican theory at a time when Roman Catholic theology placed a stationary earth at the center of the universe. This is no dry science lesson but a dramatized vision of the contradictory forces pulling on Galileo, who was both a scientist and a devout Catholic. He lived during the Inquisition, in an era when unpopular ideas were grounds for torture or being burned at the stake.

The program was adapted from ''Galileo's Daughter,'' Dava Sobel's best-selling book based on letters written to Galileo by his daughter, who became a nun. She took the name Maria Celeste, perhaps in deference to her father's fascination with the stars, and her letters reveal a touching desire to understand his obsession.

His feelings for her are less clear, because his letters to her have not been found. But Galileo was a prolific writer, expressing his scientific theories as literature in his ''Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems.'' He had the necessary arrogance to combat prevailing wisdom. ''I render grace to God that it has pleased him to make me alone the first observer of an admirable thing kept hidden all these ages,'' he said. But he would die humbled by the Inquisition; his writings were banned. In dramatic recreations, Simon Callow plays Galileo with melancholy grandeur."
Engaging, entertaining, and informative
Dream's Raven | USA | 03/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've been enjoying learning about influential scientists lately, and this was a good resource in my self-education. It was really well made, combining standard documentary techniques with reenactments of episodes from Galileo's life, making for a program that's very informative and also easy to watch. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of science."
Lost the Battle, Won the War
J. S. Kaminski | Aberdeen, NJ United States | 11/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This was an excellent program, recounting the story of one of the first clashes in the well-documented struggle between science and religion. At the heart is a seemingly harmless idea - that the sun is the center of our planetary system. Copernicus first proposed this, and Galileo, through observations with his telescope, confirmed it. Unfortunately for Galileo, this idea contradicted a few random passages in the Jewish bible, passages that conveyed the belief that the earth was at the center of our planetary system, and not the sun. What followed was a 25-year, on-again off-again conflict between the great scientist and authorities of the Catholic Church, with neither willing to give in to the other.

Also highlighted throughout this program is an examination of the relationship between Galileo and one of his daughters, a cloistered nun. It appears they wrote to each other constantly until her death at the age of 33 and, although his letters to her appear to be lost, her letters to him remain. It was those letters and the story they told that served as the inspiration for the book "Galileo's Daughter" and this Nova program. It is a touching story of family bonds and familial love, interspersed with significant historical events. Reading the book and watching this program will help you to understand and appreciate that story, and I highly recommend both.

Five stars!"