Film Review Berthold Brecht’s Galileo

By Norm Robins

We have been turned into a nation of shut-ins. We have been given a time out by circumstances and sent to our rooms. Spring has been called off. Possibly summer, too. We are planning for the fall. What to do with our newfound and unwelcome free time?

I suggest we watch the best movie, bar none, I have ever seen, Berthold Brecht’s Galileo. The American Film Theater had two seasons 1973 – 1975, where they presented some of the world’s best plays, faithful to the scripts, as films. Hollywood has a terrible reputation for massaging plays into films that will sell. Producer Ely Landau didn’t do that. He respected our intelligence and good taste.

This is a British film with British actors except for the lead played by Israeli actor Topol (of Fiddler on the Roof fame). All the actors are great as one would expect, but Topol’s Galileo has such a lust for scientific inquiry and the truth that he dominates the film. He is over the top.

What makes this film so great is the antagonistic interplay between the deductive reasoning needed to keep the 17th Century Roman Catholic Church in power and Galileo’s scientific reasoning that takes no prisoners and bayonets the wounded. This was the start of a movement within the Renaissance that led to the Reformation, Enlightenment, and Scientific Revolution. If you don’t understand Galileo you can’t understand these four movements, and you can’t understand the Western Civilization we live in today.

And Galileo is as relevant today as it was in the 1970s.

The film is free on YouTube at

It comes in 10 segments that automatically launch one after the other. Beware, there are two postings nearby that have been edited beyond recognition. One runs for 1:36:43 and the other 1:39:15. Enjoy the real McCoy!

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