Galileo (1975)

PG | 145 mins | Biography | 27 January 1975

Director:

Joseph Losey

Producer:

Ely Landau

Cinematographer:

Michael Reed

Editor:

Reginald Beck

Production Designer:

Richard MacDonald

Production Companies:

American Express Films , The Ely Landau Organization, Inc., Cinevision Ltee. (Canada)
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HISTORY

       Although the film accurately depicts Galileo Galilei’s (1564 -1642) scientific career and his complications with the Roman Catholic Church, it does take liberties with his family life. Galileo’s longtime mistress bore him two daughters and a son, not one daughter, as the film suggests. Fearing that both girls were unmarriageable due to their illegitimate birth, Galileo sent them to a convent when Virginia, the oldest, was thirteen-years old. They remained in the convent for the remainder of their lives. Contrary to the film, surviving letters published in a book, Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel, reveal that Virginia remained a loving daughter, who encouraged Galileo to continue with his studies until his death.
       As noted in Bertolt Brecht in Amerika by James K. Lyon, playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote three versions of the play Galileo. The film Galileo is based on the second version of the play which was written after Brecht fled Nazism and emigrated from Europe. Brecht made his way to CA, where he met actor-director Charles Laughton. For three and a half years, the two worked on the second version of the play. It was produced at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, opening 31 Jul 1947 and running until 17 Aug 1947, with Laughton performing the title role. Incidental music was supplied by Brecht’s friend and fellow exile, Hanns Eisler, whose music was also used in the film. The play was staged at the Maxine Elliot’s Theatre in New York City between 7 Dec 1947 and 14 ... More Less

       Although the film accurately depicts Galileo Galilei’s (1564 -1642) scientific career and his complications with the Roman Catholic Church, it does take liberties with his family life. Galileo’s longtime mistress bore him two daughters and a son, not one daughter, as the film suggests. Fearing that both girls were unmarriageable due to their illegitimate birth, Galileo sent them to a convent when Virginia, the oldest, was thirteen-years old. They remained in the convent for the remainder of their lives. Contrary to the film, surviving letters published in a book, Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel, reveal that Virginia remained a loving daughter, who encouraged Galileo to continue with his studies until his death.
       As noted in Bertolt Brecht in Amerika by James K. Lyon, playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote three versions of the play Galileo. The film Galileo is based on the second version of the play which was written after Brecht fled Nazism and emigrated from Europe. Brecht made his way to CA, where he met actor-director Charles Laughton. For three and a half years, the two worked on the second version of the play. It was produced at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, opening 31 Jul 1947 and running until 17 Aug 1947, with Laughton performing the title role. Incidental music was supplied by Brecht’s friend and fellow exile, Hanns Eisler, whose music was also used in the film. The play was staged at the Maxine Elliot’s Theatre in New York City between 7 Dec 1947 and 14 Dec 1947. Joseph Losey directed both stage productions and also co-adapted and directed the 1975 film version.
       Brecht was unable to attend the New York City stage opening as he left the U.S. on 3 Oct 1947, the day after he testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). Hanns Eisler also ran afoul of the HUAC, and was deported in 1948. Joseph Losey was ‘blacklisted” in Hollywood and went to Europe to earn a living as a director.
       A news item in the 17 Mar 1965 HR announced that Losey had been hired to produce and direct the film adaptation of Galileo, and that he was negotiating for actor Rod Steiger to perform the title role. In an 11 Aug 1974 LAHExam article, Losey claimed that he had tried unsuccessfully to produce a film version of Galileo previously, but he was challenged by opposition from the Vatican, casting disputes with the Brecht estate, and the general belief that the project would not be a commercial success. Losey is not credited onscreen as producer, and Steiger was not cast as “Galileo Galilei.”
       Nearly ten years later, the 13 Jun 1974 HR announced that Losey was signed to direct the film version of Galileo, and actor Topol had been cast as Galileo. Actor David Warner was also listed as a castmember, but he does not appear in the onscreen credits.
       Galileo was one of five plays filmed for the American Film Theatre’s (AFT) second season. According to the 8 May 1974 DV, the budget for each play was raised from the first season’s average of $750,000 to $800,000 per film, and the number of participating theaters also increased from 516 to 650. For additional information on the series of the filmed plays, please consult the entry for The Iceman Cometh (1973).
       Both the 8 May 1974 DV and the 13 Jun 1974 HR reported that principal photography began 8 Jul 1974. In a 22 Jan 1975 Women’s Wear Daily article, Losey stated that he originally planned for filming to take place at the historical locations of Galileo’s life, but location shooting was too expensive and he decided to film in a studio. Losey was given two months for preproduction, which included adjusting the text, and four and a half weeks for principal photography. As stated in a 28 Jan 1975 NYT review, there was no “opening up of the Brecht play to look like a movie.” An overview of the soundstage can clearly be seen beneath the opening credits and a trio of choirboys singing a synopsis of upcoming events precedes each “act.” The sets were stylized to remind the viewer that this is a filmed play.
       In the 8 May 1974 DV, producer Ely Landau announced that AFT’s second season would begin in Jan 1975. A film review in the 15 Jan 1975 Var stated that Galileo was kicking off AFT’s second season on 27 Jan 1975. However, major distributors pressured exhibitors not to honor their commitments to AFT, forcing Laudau to seek legal action. Var reported that Landau filed an Anti-Trust Act lawsuit against six major distributors. According to the 8 May 1974 DV, Landau had previously sought help from Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), in the hope that Valenti could organize a meeting to discuss the distributor’s objections. However, no record was found to confirm the meeting.

      Following the open credits, a title card reads: “1609. Galileo Galilei, Teacher of Mathematics in Padua demonstrates New Copernican System.” The end credits include the following statements: “Made at EMI Elstree Studios, England by the Ely Laudau Organization Ltd., 9 Clifford Street, London, England. Released by AFT Distribution Corporation” and, “This has been a presentation of The American Film Theatre.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
27 Jan 1975
p. 4752.
Daily Variety
8 May 1974.
---
Daily Variety
15 Jan 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 1965.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 1974
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Oct 1974
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1975
p. 4, 8.
LAHExam
11 Aug 1974.
---
LAHExam
17 Apr 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Mar 1975
p. 1, 10.
New York Times
28 Jan 1975
p. 26.
Time
10 Feb 1975.
---
Variety
15 Jan 1975
p. 26.
Women's Wear Daily
22 Jan 1975.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Film by Joseph Losey
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Adpt for the screen by
Adpt for the screen by
From the English version by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Gaffer
Filmed with
ART DIRECTORS
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATOR
Props
COSTUMES
Cost
Ward master
Ward mistress
MUSIC
Orig mus
Addl mus and arr comp and cond by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing ed
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Make-up
Make-up
Hairdressing
Hairdressing
PRODUCTION MISC
In charge of prod
Prod supv
Prod assoc
Continuity
Prod consultant
Prod accountant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Galileo by Bertolt Brecht (New York, 7 Dec 1947), as translated into English by Charles Laughton.
DETAILS
Release Date:
27 January 1975
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 27 January 1975
Los Angeles opening: 17 March 1975
Production Date:
8 July--mid October 1974
Copyright Claimant:
AFT Distributing Corporation
Copyright Date:
31 December 1974
Copyright Number:
LP44348
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman Color
Duration(in mins):
145
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
Canada, United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the Venetian city of Padua, 1609, astronomer Galileo Galilei lectures Andrea Sarti, the twelve-year-old son of his landlady, on the Copernican theory that the planets revolve around the sun. He warns Andrea not to discuss this theory in public because the “authorities” are skeptical of science. They are interrupted by Ludovico Marsili, the son of a wealthy horse breeder, who asks Galileo to tutor him in astronomy, explaining that his mother believes familiarization with science will make him appear educated. Galileo is not interested until Ludovico describes a new invention he saw in Holland called a telescope. Later, Priuli, the university treasurer, loans Galileo money, which he gives to Andrea to buy lenses from a glassmaker. Andrea leaves as Priuli announces the university has turned down Galileo’s request for a raise, and suggests if Galileo wants more money, he should invent something useful. Months later, claiming to be the original inventor, Galileo demonstrates the telescope for the senate of Venice, who reward him with a salary increase. Ludovico accuses Galileo of fraud, but Galileo claims he is justified because he has improved the telescope. That night, Galileo uses the telescope to demonstrate to his friend, Sagredo, that the moon does not generate its own illumination. He also shows Sagredo the four moons orbiting Jupiter, which prove the Copernican theory. The men are interrupted by an irate Priuli, who announces that during the time in which Galileo demonstrated “his invention,” a ship from Holland delivered a cargo of telescopes to Venice. A year later, Galileo is famous, and informs his adult daughter, Virginia, and Sagredo, that ... +


In the Venetian city of Padua, 1609, astronomer Galileo Galilei lectures Andrea Sarti, the twelve-year-old son of his landlady, on the Copernican theory that the planets revolve around the sun. He warns Andrea not to discuss this theory in public because the “authorities” are skeptical of science. They are interrupted by Ludovico Marsili, the son of a wealthy horse breeder, who asks Galileo to tutor him in astronomy, explaining that his mother believes familiarization with science will make him appear educated. Galileo is not interested until Ludovico describes a new invention he saw in Holland called a telescope. Later, Priuli, the university treasurer, loans Galileo money, which he gives to Andrea to buy lenses from a glassmaker. Andrea leaves as Priuli announces the university has turned down Galileo’s request for a raise, and suggests if Galileo wants more money, he should invent something useful. Months later, claiming to be the original inventor, Galileo demonstrates the telescope for the senate of Venice, who reward him with a salary increase. Ludovico accuses Galileo of fraud, but Galileo claims he is justified because he has improved the telescope. That night, Galileo uses the telescope to demonstrate to his friend, Sagredo, that the moon does not generate its own illumination. He also shows Sagredo the four moons orbiting Jupiter, which prove the Copernican theory. The men are interrupted by an irate Priuli, who announces that during the time in which Galileo demonstrated “his invention,” a ship from Holland delivered a cargo of telescopes to Venice. A year later, Galileo is famous, and informs his adult daughter, Virginia, and Sagredo, that he has written to Duke Cosimo di Medici of Florence, requesting a position as court astronomer. Virginia is overjoyed, but Sagredo warns Galileo that his discoveries are dangerous to the status quo of the Catholic Church, that the monks who run the Medici’s court will be hostile to Galileo’s theories, and prophesizes Galileo will be burned at the stake. Galileo, Andrea, Virginia, and Galileo’s servant, Federzoni, arrive at the nine-year-old duke’s court to show the young aristocrat the moons of Jupiter, which Galileo has named for Medici. However, the court philosopher dismisses Galileo’s discoveries as defects in the lenses, and prohibits the duke from using the telescope until the Vatican’s chief astronomer rules on the credibility of Galileo’s theories. Galileo is summoned to the Vatican where Father Clavius pronounces Galileo’s theory valid. That night, Galileo, Virginia and Ludovico attend a party at Cardinal Barberini’s residence, where Galileo, Barberini, and Cardinal Bellarmin debate astronomy. The Cardinals insist that only God can understand the intricacies of planetary movements, but Galileo counters that God gave man the intellect to unravel these mysteries. Barberini announces that the Holy Office has overruled Father Clavius and rejected Galileo’s theory because it contradicts scripture. Later, the Cardinal Inquisitor seeks out Virginia, congratulates her on her approaching marriage to Ludovico, and warns that her father must obey the Holy Office’s ruling or face the consequences. A few days later, Brother Fulganzio visits Galileo’s home to announce he is giving up astronomy, but Galileo convinces him that scientific knowledge will free the struggling masses from hardship and poverty. Fulganzio changes his mind and becomes Galileo’s assistant. As years pass, Galileo remains silent on astronomy, and investigates the science of floating bodies. One day, an adult Andrea brings him a book on sunspots and demands Galileo weigh in on the controversy of their origins. Fearing church reprisals, Galileo refuses, until Ludovico informs him that the Pope is dying and Cardinal Barberini might succeed him. Believing that Barberini, a mathematician, will be sympathetic to scientific inquiry, Galileo decides to investigate the sunspots. Ludovico objects, claiming Galileo’s ideas are making it impossible for his family to control their peasants and he refuses to marry Virginia if Galileo persists on defying the Church, but Galileo is willing to sacrifice his daughter’s happiness for science. When Virginia comes downstairs to model her wedding dress and learns what has happened, she faints. Galileo returns to his studies. Years later, Galileo and Virginia wait to present his new book to his patron, the Duke of Florence, when a rich merchant, Vanni, informs Galileo that his work is being used to inspire social unrest and he must be careful. Galileo insists that he has the protection of Duke Medici and Cardinal Barberini, who is now Pope Urban VIII, but Galileo is arrested and sent to face the Holy Inquisitor. In Rome, the Cardinal Inquisitor convinces the Pope Urban that Galileo weakens the church by casting doubt on the accuracy of the Bible. Fearing the world will view the church as a tyrant, and because he agrees with Galileo’s findings, the Pope is reluctant to harm him. However, Pope Urban allows the Inquisitor to show Galileo the instruments of torture, hoping to frighten Galileo into submission. Later, Andrea, Fulganzio and Federzoni argue that Galileo must stand firm, while Virginia prays that Galileo will recant his beliefs. The hour of Galileo’s recanting passes without any announcement. The men rejoice, proclaiming that 22 June 1633 is the first day of the Age of Reason. However, the bell tolls, announcing that Galileo has recanted and Andrea collapses in despair. Years pass, and Galileo is a prisoner of the Holy Inquisition. Virginia, now a nun, is assigned to take care of her father and she enforces the decree that Galileo must only write church-approved materials. One day, Andrea visits from Holland, where he now lives in order to pursue his scientific studies. Galileo is dismayed to learn that no new treatise on astronomy has been published since he recanted. Galileo shows Andrea a copy of Two New Sciences, a book on physics he secretly wrote. Andrea is overjoyed and apologizes for doubting him, believing that Galileo recanted only to outwit the church so he could keep working, but Galileo confesses he betrayed his beliefs out of fear of physical pain and that he cannot be forgiven by science. As Virginia brings Galileo’s dinner, Andrea leaves to smuggle the book into Holland. Galileo asks Virginia to look outside to see if the night is clear. She says it is, and shutters the window. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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