Galileo (1975)



Director:     Joseph Losey

Starring:     Topol (Galileo Galilei), Edward Fox (Cardinal Inquisitor). 

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie. 

1609. Galileo Galilei is a teacher of mathematics at the University of Padua in Padua (which sometimes is included in today's Padua-Venice  Metropolitan Area).  He demonstrates the new Copernican system.  Galileo speaks with the landlady's child who wants to know about astronomy.  The teacher says that man believes that all the planets and the sun revolve around him.  (What arrogance!)  Instead, the earth runs around the sun.  The landlord comes in and asks Galileo what is he doing with her son?  The teacher doesn't wants the mother to know the nature of his conversation with her son, because it is heresy according to the church.  He just says they were talking n general about astronomy. 

The landlady wants Galileo to take in a student, Ludovico Marsili, so he can make some money to pay the rent.  They set up an appointment for Tuesday afternoon.  After the student leaves, the treasurer of the University of Padua arrives to see Galileo.  The famed mathematician asks the treasurer to lend him a scudo.  He tells the landlady's son to go get him two lenses .  He gives the boy the directions for grinding the lenses. 

The treasurer returns to Galileo his petition for an increase in salary.  He makes only 500 scudi.  The treasurer also tells Galileo if he continues with his thinking on astronomy, he will be forbidden to think, all in the name of the Inquisition.  Right now Galileo is only 46 years old. 

The landlady's son brings Galileo his two lenses.  A bit later Galileo shows the boy what he did with the two lenses.  He made improvements on the telescope, which was then largely just a toy. 

The treasurer of the university tells an audience of influential people that with Galileo's new invention they will be able to see the enemy fleet two hours away before the enemy can spot them.  In private the treasurer says that Galileo will be getting an extra 500 scudi a year.

January 1610.  Galileo discovers celestial phenomena proving the Copernican System.  He uses the telescope to study the moon and declares that there are high mountains on the moon.   His friend Segrad tells him that these thoughts are frightening because they are seen as heretical. 

The treasurer arrives to speak to Galileo.  He is very angry with the scholar.  A ship from Holland has just landed carrying a full cargo of the Dutch telescopes that are being sold for two scudi apiece.  Galileo argues that his telescope is much better and it can be very useful.  After all, wouldn't ship navigators want to know that stars have regular movement?  He answers his question in the affirmative. He goes on to say that there is no scaffolding in the universe holding up the stars and planets.  What this means is that man is not the center of the universe.   The treasurer worries what is going to happen to Galileo.  He asks where is God in his system?

Galileo tells Segrad that he wants to go to Florence.  Segrad tells him that this is a bad idea for Florence is a place run by monks.  The Duke of Florence is only nine years old.  He adds that Galileo is on the road to his own destruction. 

January 10, 1610.  In Florence the reaction to the idea of Galileo is very negative.  The people worry that the man's system will abolish heaven.  Galileo keeps asking them to look through his telescope and they will see what he is talking about  but nobody will look.  The landlady's son is helping Galileo to get the people to look.  The young boy gets disgusted and leaves his post saying:  "They're stupid."  The men want to know from Galileo where is all this leading?  Galileo says that the truth might lead us anywhere: "You need only to look through the telescope."

The papal astronomer confirms Galileo's discoveries.

A doubter asks Galileo if the Bible ever lies?  Another says Galileo is an enemy of mankind.  The head of the Inquisition, the Cardinal Inquisitor,  is outraged by Galileo's views.  The papal astronomer Father Clavius comes in and announces:  "He is right!"

Galileo's friend says he has won.  And now it's up to the theologians to set the heaven's straight.

In Rome there is an event that 250 people will attend.  Cardinals Bellarmin and Barberini come to the gathering.   One of the cardinals admonishes Galileo to relinquish his opinions. 

Galileo congratulates his daughter Virgilia on her upcoming wedding.  She is marrying dad's former student Ludovico Marsili.  There's a problem, however.  Ludovico and his family are worried about Galileo's heretical teachings and what it could mean for their own futures.  

A scholar-monk tells Galileo that "unrestricted research is dangerous". And the students will become upset at his revelations.  "We must be silent from the highest mountains."  Galileo asks  the monk is he supposed to be a priest?  He then talks about an important question that he would like to find answers for:  what is light? 

For about four years Galileo remains relatively quiet.  Sr. Capone says that because Galileo has been so quiet he has had time to build up a good reputation.  Galileo comments that it's the other way around.  Rome has allowed him to build a good reputation, since he has been quiet.  Thousands of students have come to hear Galileo speak.

Ludovico arrives.  The wedding is set for September. Because of Galileo's teachings, the wedding has been delayed for eight years.  Someone says that they had a reactionary for a pope.  Galileo doesn't give this reason  much credence.  This makes his landlady mad.  She tells him that the authorities warned him and now he is sneaking back to his old views.  After hearing all this, Ludovico gets up and leaves.  The monk-scholar says that the new pope will be an enlightened man.  Virgilia now comes down.  When she sees that her fiancée has left, she collapses. 

1632.  All Fool's Day. 






Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


Historical Background:

The scudo was the coinage system used in the Papal States until 1866.


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