Galileo

Film

Period and swashbuckler films

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Time Out says

Maybe Losey simply lived too long with a project he had been trying to get off the ground ever since he first directed Laughton in Brecht's play in 1947, and which emerges here as a curiously academic exercise. For one thing, giving a likeable but lightweight performance, Topol is allowed to get away with presenting Galileo as a hero, which makes nonsense of Brecht's condemnation of him as a coward for his betrayal of science (the crucial carnival scene now becomes just a jolly romp). For another, Losey hedges uncertainly between theatre and cinema, so that Brecht's linking songs and captions are retained, but rendered in 'cinematic' ways that make them both clumsy and tautological. By far the most striking sequence is also the most purely theatrical (Galileo's daughter and disciples waiting anxiously to hear whether he has recanted, shot on a bare stage with stark, theatrical groupings and spotlights projecting a shadow-play of their emotions on the cyclorama behind). Elsewhere, smooth theatrical continuity tends to blunt the raw edges of Brecht's distancing effects.
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Release details

UK release:

1974

Duration:

145 mins

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