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The Age of Cosimo de Medici
Time Out says
Rossellini's trilogy portraying the eruption of Renaissance Florence was originally made for TV (Part One: The Exile of Cosimo de Medici; Part Two: The Power of Cosimo de Medici; Part Three: Leon Battista Alberti). Cosimo's rise to power, his exile and return, are related in scenes of austere beauty which animate the economic, legal, military, religious and aesthetic structures of a 15th century city state. Cosimo, the artists, the merchants, the tax-collectors and the priests are all vivid Renaissance men, yet men understood not in an individual psychological frame, but in a historical materialist one. Certain sequences force a complete reappraisal of screen history: an explanation of the tax system, a discussion about architecture, an election to the ruling council, open up ways of seeing the past to which British television obstinately remains largely blind. The revealed world is both patently artificial and startlingly real. Rossellini's restless camera analyses and interrogates the continually stimulating debates about power and freewill. And the greatest achievement is the trilogy's final section, focusing on scholar and artist Leon Battista Alberti. Through him we understand the emergence of the humanist consciousness; through him we recognise the birth of our culture.