26 September 2012 8:02 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Topol, Tom Conti, Edward Fox and John Gielgud add up to one clever biopic, if you subtract 45 minutes of flagging in the middle

Galileo (1974)

Director: Joseph Losey

Entertainment grade: C+

History grade: A–

Galileo Galilei was an Italian astronomer and mathematician, and one of the most important historical figures in the development of modern physics.


It's 1609, and a skint, grumpy Galileo teaches mathematics in Padua. He is played by Topol. Yes, Topol, from Fiddler on the Roof. Critics were sniffy at the time, complaining that he didn't bring intelligence to the role – unlike, they said, the mostly British supporting cast, which includes Tom Conti and Edward Fox. In fact, Topol isn't that bad. He emphasises Galileo's earthiness instead of restrained scientific dignity, but that's a reasonable interpretation. The real Galileo is said to have played theatrically to audiences in Pisa, climbing the famous tower and throwing objects of »

- Alex von Tunzelmann

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