It is currently Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:46 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 84 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4
Author Message
PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 4:11 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:42 pm
Colin, I agree with your assessment on these. As a huge fan of Rosselini, and as a person who generally never considers movies in terms of "fun" or "boring" (I love Bresson, Ozu and Tarkovsky after all!) I had a difficult time getting through these as well. Cartesius in particular was not particularly interesting to me, although there were some brilliant dialogue scenes and very closely mannered, intriguing performances. Plus was it me or does Ugo Cardea have the strangest eyebrows in all of filmdom? I was strangely hypnotized by his contemplative gazes.


Top
 Profile  
 

PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:10 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:52 pm
Location: Art Theatre Shinjuku Bunka
Ugo Cardea surely baffles the eyes. His facial profile and big eyebrows really stick out, making him the perfect choice for Cartesius. Not to mention great acting ability.

I feel like the films were straddling the line between dramatized history and a cinéma vérité history film, and they ever succeed at being both, or one of them at least. Whereas Age of the Medici feels lively and optimistic, with individuals mired in statistics and flexible rivalry, the people's represented in the other films showcase complex, conflicted times. And, given how mortal and divided Europe was in the 17th century, the films reflect the bleakness of Europe's future, primarily through Descartes' isolation and Pascal's inner death.

Either way, though, they're all great films. But even I feel that their potential was cut short by a lack of planning, either in stylization or in brevity.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 3:52 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 1:56 pm
Location: Dublin
Two brief points to put these pieces into context - these films were watched by incredible audiences in Italy & France at the time, so arguably they are some of the most succesful work of RR's career... Rossellini's collected writings on the broad didactic project and the individual titles can be found in French, in the Cahiers du Cinema book, La télévision comme utopie, while the excellent introductory essay there by the editor Adriano Apro ('Rossellini's Historical Encyclopaedia') is also to be found in English in the BFI book Roberto Rossellini: Magician of the Real.... The ambition, scope and brilliance of the whole endeavour becomes apparent... For instance one of his unmade ideas was a cinematic canvas tracing the history of food through the ages...


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 6:34 am 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
ellipsis, these films (or at least the three that I have had the opportunity to see so far - I still have the Louis XIV film to watch) made me think that they are Rossellini's filmic form of treatise. Individual studies meant to be appreciated for how they fit into a whole and, similar to the way Descartes talks of his seemingly disparate learning adding up to a wholistic view of his subject, that seems to be Rossellini also speaking about this project through his character. Either that or following in Descarte's footsteps!

Dragoon En Regalia wrote:
stroszeck wrote:
Cartesius in particular was not particularly interesting to me, although there were some brilliant dialogue scenes and very closely mannered, intriguing performances. Plus was it me or does Ugo Cardea have the strangest eyebrows in all of filmdom? I was strangely hypnotized by his contemplative gazes.

Ugo Cardea surely baffles the eyes. His facial profile and big eyebrows really stick out, making him the perfect choice for Cartesius. Not to mention great acting ability.

I feel like the films were straddling the line between dramatized history and a cinéma vérité history film, and they ever succeed at being both, or one of them at least. Whereas Age of the Medici feels lively and optimistic, with individuals mired in statistics and flexible rivalry, the people's represented in the other films showcase complex, conflicted times. And, given how mortal and divided Europe was in the 17th century, the films reflect the bleakness of Europe's future, primarily through Descartes' isolation and Pascal's inner death.

Either way, though, they're all great films. But even I feel that their potential was cut short by a lack of planning, either in stylization or in brevity.

Watching Blaise Pascal straight after Cartesius I was pleasantly surprised to see the character of Father Mersenne reappear as a kind of patron for Pascal, and it was even more amusing to see an entirely different kind of portrayal of Descartes from the one Ugo Cardea does in the later film dedicated entirely to him in the scene where Blaise visits and listens to one of his lectures. That I think is my favourite scene from Blaise Pascal, showing a discussion between important thinkers of their times that doesn't exactly take the form of a one-sided lecture, instead more of a point-counterpoint presentation of different approaches to their studies.

I really felt as if I only really had trouble with Age of the Medici, whereas the other two films I was able to watch without such problems. Perhaps this is to do with the solipsistic characters who due to the internal nature of their studies necessarily have to be the centrepieces of their films, whereas Cosimo de Medici is much more an enabler or icon of the times and the action in that film so widely spread across so many characters that there is a very disorienting sense of there being no real strong centre to the film for a viewer.

For example Leon Battista Alberti is a strong character through the second two films but himself is regularly lost in the crowd. The major example of what feels like the main character Thomas Wadding from the first section is a good example, as is Machiavelli in accompanying him to Florence and touring him around the city. Yet they never appear again once the silk weaver's guild has punished the forger. There's also the high point of Fred Ward's appearance in episode two, really energising the action as the Muslim convert regaling the group with tales of his adventures, who then pops up again to end the second episode with a highly amusing summation of capitalist practices! Many other, less well introduced, characters appear and disappear back into history throughout - it is a nice stylistic conceit but does prevent the audience from understanding the world through any strong ongoing identification with particular characters or character arcs. I suppose though that it makes Cosimo (and later Leon Battista) more important almost by default as they are the few characters that the film returns to for more than a handful of scenes.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 3:51 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
I think the main difference between Age of the Medici and the other three that Criterion have released is that it deliberately refuses to have a charactered center to it. Rossellini's goals with those three films better fit to their characters, but as the title announces this isn't really about any one character or rather what Rossellini believes they represent, but rather a portrait of the whole era. In one sense it is his final statement of the era (which explains Cartesius's radically different approach becoming a metaphor for the creative life) and probably more notably the use of money for the era. In that sense perhaps the film is closer to his The Age of Iron and planned food film. I'd argue Cosimo is not so much a character within the film as an object of change in creating the merchant class and capitalism. This makes me wonder if his planned Marx film would have functioned as a sequel to this epic?

This is all a long way of saying that the film may be an easier watch to do (as I do) and stand by the POV of hands as they exchange money and change the way that money is used as viewed as. This is all hinted at with the opening set of sequences which don't introduce any character we follow (if I remember correctly Cosimo doesn't appear until halfway through the funeral), but instead get the set of rules in which money, inheritance, and the like is utilized in this world. This is a film of externalized evolution like a Cronenberg film.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 9:03 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am
The Age of Medici is presented on eclipse in three 85 minute parts, which makes it far more digestible than the terrorizing length of 255 minutes, I wound up watching one part per night, mini-series style, probably closer to how it was meant to be seen.

I wound up watching the first two parts in English, in part because of this thread. Each following morning, I rewatched parts of the films in Italian. The Italian was so much better performed, that I watched the final part in Italian and it was the most satisfying experience of the three episodes. The English dub is dire, it is of poor quality with inconsistent performances and accents; the whole thing is drab with most of the actors intoning soporific readings, I'd call the vocals of the English dub wooden, but I've come across far more compelling wood, so I'd hate to insult trees en masse with such a critique. This is a shame because the visuals are dense and wonderfully realized, it's a beautifully rendered production on par with Louis XIV and I often felt distracted when I was watching the subtitled versions.

I doubt it would ever happen, but it would be fantastic to see a beautifully produced new English language dub for the film, and I imagine it's the sort of thing Rossellini would like.

The first part of The Age of Medici concerns itself with the rise and exile of Cosimo de Medici. The series opens with the death of the Medici patriarch, and through a remarkable sequence at the wake Rossellini walks us through all the exposition we will need, introducing characters and factions. the ruling elite of Florence feel threatened by the capitalistic pacifism espoused by the Medicis (war is bad for business), and eventually succeed in exiling the new patriarch at the end of the first night's episode.

One of the best things about the film is the way it deeply embeds you within the milieu of Florence, scenes walk us through the trade, banking, craftsmanship and R&D of the early stages of Renaissance, its wonderful and rarely done, and it helps to really embed you in the time period, and the limitations of the knowledge within that time period, far more effectively than the typical anachronistic approaches that seem to be unable to conceive of different, ancient mindsets. It's amazing how different it feels to be in these rossellini worlds for a few weeks.

The second part concerns itself with the political machinations Cosimo sets in place to enable his return. he succeeds and also leverages his association with a new pope to further enhance his scope of influence. We are more deeply embedded into the politics of the time, and now art is becoming a major part of the city, as trade increases. The episode ends on a highlight monologue of an 'exotic' trader regaling his audience with tall tales of his travels.

The third part more or less completely discards Cosimo as a character, or his heirs, and instead focuses on a church cleric, Alberti, who is an intellectual obsessed with art and architecture, he makes an out of left field cameo in the second episode, for an extended viewing of Donatello's workshop, and suddenly he becomes the main character of episode three. This is perhaps my favorite episode because it gets so intricately into the political and physical machinations of how shit gets done. Rome wasn't built in a day, it did require someone to want to build it a certain way and and the knowhow and expertise to build it. So we see Alberti's transition, from Florence cleric critic he is elevated by a new and ambitious pope to become the architect in charge of restoring and rebuilding Rome. There's a central scene that goes into a workshop where many primitive machines are assisting in manufacturing objects, such as a metal file. You could spend an entire episode in just this location, it is tremendously fascinating. We skip ahead at the end of the episode to see Alberti, now aged, reflecting on his successes, it's a bit abrupt to skip so much time, but it's a perfectly appropriate grace note for a film that covers such a sweeping era, and it offers a fine conclusion to the series.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 10:03 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:41 am
A lot of the English is indeed dire, particularly some of the bit players; but don't you think Cosimo and Alberti are okay? The English version is the original; most of the actors spoke English during the shoot; so it's their own voices and the lip synch of the principals excellent; and their English vocal expression (whether you like it or not) corresponds with their facial expression and body language.

I don't know whose voices the Italian voices are. But Rossellini had nothing to do with the Italian dubbing. My Italian acquaintances love the Italian dubbing.

I think the priority is to do without the subtitles. It's a visual movie. Reading subtitles is catastrophic, unless your interest is primarily the spoken word.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 11:12 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am
Yes cosimo has the best english language performance, and alberti is pretty good too. With decades of viewing subtitles I'm pretty good at seeing the visuals too, but subtitles do create a break in the visual flow and editorial rhythm. And I think they make your brain engage differently than it engages with just a picture and sound.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 12:47 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:41 am
Yes, I agree. I think the important thing is to get involved with the character, just as you would with Ford of Mizoguchi or... The words are less important in themselves than the person saying them, and all the genius of the Renaissance is reflection of these persons. With subtitles, I cannot fixate on eye contact, on the character's vibes. Till I was 50 I swore by subtitles and excoriated dubbing; now I disagree with my former self. I know I lose far far more than I gain, with subtitles. Which isn't to deny the glory and beauty of some recitation. So if you can understand the Italian without subtitles, that's would be a feast. But I like very much the way Cosimo speaks; it's really a perfect voice for someone so snakey. Alberti meanwhile is so pedantic as to be obnoxious; I wonder if RR intended this, at any real the voice is deliberate. The real Alberti was renown for his charm; also for his organ playing and gymnastics: from a standing position he could jump over a man's head.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 84 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection