Galileo viewing qustions |

Watch the movie “Galileo(1976)” and finish the following viewing question:

Viewing Notes: Galileo (dir. Joseph Losey, 1975) – Take notes during the film screening.  Hand in the completed form for a maximum of 16 points extra credit on Thursday, 29 January!

A. In which Italian city/cities does the film open? B. Name two other Italian cities that are important for the plot. What are the various cities associated with?



Describe one scene in which there is a visual reference to the film being based on a play (for example, scenes of literal theater stages) or evidence that this is a stage play being filmed (e.g. lighting, the characters speaking to the camera, off-camera voices). (By contrast, what about the direct address of the character of Galileo to the camera?)

Note here the number of times the three little boys ‘sing’ their explanatory songs, each time followed by a line or two indicating the important point that will be made in the scene that follows. What is the effect of these choral interludes on your viewing of the film?

“Seduced by truth”: Note one scene in which Galileo ‘teaches’. How does he teach? Whom does he think it is important to teach? Whom does he in fact teach? Who must “learn to think” and why must they learn to think (Andrea, serving woman, ‘illiterate’, non-Latin reading lens grinder, Little Monk’s family, peasants)? What is the function of Andrea in particular? Is he “harmless”?

“Even his thinking is sensual”: Note the number of scenes in which Galileo is represented as a man of certain appetites and bodily needs (washing, eating, drinking). What does his attention to the pleasures of the flesh have to do with his scientific method? What do his “appetites” (literal and metaphorical), his “passions” and “ingrained vices,” and the “temptations” of science make him do? What about the deterioration of his eyesight?

The “New Age” /The “Dawn of the Age of Reason” / “Holy Aristotle!” / “They Never Checked up on Him!”: What does Brecht’s Galileo think of the “traditions,” the “wisdom of the ages,” accepted” by the “authorities” for centuries, defended by the university (the scholars, Aristotle)? By the (Catholic) Church (the pope, the cardinals, Bellarmine and the Holy Office)? How about the “traditions” of the peasants (the family of the “Little Monk”?) How does the film represent this stance (e.g. Brecht’s Galileo’s stance on tradition?) What about writing / speaking in the vernacular?

“And yet, it moves”: What is Copernicanism, the science of the “new astronomers,” according to the film? Can one accept a “hypothesis” (cf. Bellarmine)?

What is the point of the parable of the oyster and the pearl in the scene with the Young Monk? What is the point of the scene with the Young Monk?

The Personal and the Political: What is the role of Galileo’s daughter, Virginia, in the play / film? Of Ludovico?

The Church: Who is Cardinal Barberini? Why is he important? Who is Pope Urban VIII? Who is Bellarmine? What are their respective stances on “Reason” vs. Scripture? Knowing the truth vs. seeking after the truth? Doubt vs. Faith?

 Note here how many times Galileo is referred to as a “great man.” What is the arc of the biopic-narrative in this film?

Silence, Recantation, and Being “Roasted like a Ham”: Note the progress of Galileo’s “restraint” in discussing his work / speaking over the course of the film. Compare his (lack of) restraint to the Singer(s) of the All Fool’s Day song. (What is the point of the All Fool’s Day scene? What is the song about?) What about his recantation? What about the Discorsi?

 Class and the “New Knowledge”: Who supports Galileo? Whose support does he accept? Contrast the role of the peasants, the court (the Medicean court at Florence), and the bourgeoisie commercial class in the play / film.

“He’s an Old Fox”: Is Galileo a “martyr for science” in Brecht’s interpretation? A “hero” (“People who suffer bore me…”)? If so, why and how? Is there a critique of science in this play / film (cf. the final scene and final chorus)?

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