This made for television film chronicles the illustrious life of French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650)


Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Blaise Pascal (TV Movie 1972)
Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Blaise Pascal struggles to understand the natural world around him, in addition to an inner quest for religious faith.

Director: Roberto Rossellini
Stars: Pierre Arditi, Rita Forzano, Giuseppe Addobbati
Socrates (TV Movie 1971)
Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A false accusation leads the philosopher Socrates to trial and condemnation in 4th century BC Athens.

Director: Roberto Rossellini
Stars: Jean Sylvère, Anne Caprile, Giuseppe Mannajuolo
The Age of the Medici (TV Mini-Series 1972)
Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

This is a lengthy exposition of the social and political history of renaissance Florentine history, told through dramatised conversations between the main participants... See full synopsis »

Stars: Marcello Di Falco, Virgilio Gazzolo, Adriano Amidei Migliano
Augustine of Hippo (TV Movie 1972)
Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

This biography tells the life story of Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, a North African region during the last years of the Roman Empire. The film details Augustine's struggle to maintain ... See full summary »

Director: Roberto Rossellini
Stars: Dary Berkani, Virgilio Gazzolo, Cesare Barbetti
Derrida (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Documentary about French philosopher (and author of deconstructionism) Jacques Derrida, who sparked fierce debate throughout American academia.

Directors: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering
Stars: Jacques Derrida, Marguerite Derrida, René Major
The Ister (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A 3000km journey up the Danube river to the heart of Europe.

Directors: David Barison, Daniel Ross
Stars: Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean-Luc Nancy, Bernard Stiegler
Examined Life (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Examined Life pulls philosophy out of academic journals and classrooms, and puts it back on the streets. In Examined Life, filmmaker Astra Taylor accompanies some of today's most ... See full summary »

Director: Astra Taylor
Stars: K. Anthony Appiah, Judith Butler, Michael Hardt
Zizek! (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A look at the controversial author, philosopher and candidate for Slovenian presidency: Slavoj Zizek.

Director: Astra Taylor
Stars: Slavoj Zizek
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The life and ideas of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. A love triangle unfolds as Nietzsche and his best friend decides to live with a Jewish woman. According to Nietzsche's ... See full summary »

Director: Liliana Cavani
Stars: Dominique Sanda, Erland Josephson, Robert Powell
Year One (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The story of Christian Democrat leader De Gasperi and his struggle to lead Italy in the years after the end of World War Two.

Director: Roberto Rossellini
Stars: Luigi Vannucchi, Dominique Darel, Rita Calderoni
Il messia (1975)
Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The story of the life of Jesus Christ.

Director: Roberto Rossellini
Stars: Pier Maria Rossi, Mita Ungaro, Carlos de Carvalho
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

When poor peasants kidnap a magistrate's daughter to coerce him into reducing taxes, a wandering ronin and two renegades from the magistrate's guard take up the fight for them.

Director: Hideo Gosha
Stars: Tetsurô Tanba, Isamu Nagato, Mikijirô Hira


Credited cast:
Ugo Cardea ...
Anne Pouchie ...
Claude Berthy ...
Guez de Balzac
Gabriele Banchero ...
Servo Bretagne
Charles Borromel ...
Abate Marin Mersenne
Kenneth Belton ...
Isaak Beeckman
Renato Montalbano ...
Bruno Corazzari ...
Ufficiale olandese
Astronomo Ciprus
John Stacy ...
Levasseur d'Etoiles
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Matilde Antonelli
Penny Ashton
Camillo Autore
Angelo Bassi


This made for television film chronicles the illustrious life of French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | History

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

20 February 1974 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Descartes  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(2 parts)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The disembodied reason
4 May 2014 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

At first glance this is the most tedious of Rossellini's portraits, double the length, with even more repetitive talk about a more abstract subject: the correct use of mind. The character is portrayed in the most distant light of all. The tensions are the most faint: Descartes has to fight prejudice like Socrates in a previous film by Rossellini but he's never really troubled, he has to worry about the Church but he can safely publish in tolerant Holland.

The most interesting way to experience the man would be in the course of making his observations: it would have to be visual, internal, in space. Not very educational; a different thing altogether than Rossellini tried with any of these things. Instead we have only the expositions of thought in long monologues, the sober history.

It's all there in a roundabout way. In a nutshell what Descartes was doing was this: the senses are unreliable and I have reason to doubt them, the world tentative, the only thing that is concretely known to me is that 'I think'. This was his anchor from which to reconstruct all the other stuff.

Now the observations are central in the sense that we needed someone to come up with the first intuitions so we could have a picture of what to correct and overcome. Indispensable in his time when mind was all sorts of muddled ideas bundled together, with hindsight we can see that in his quest for absolute clarity he severed a lot of vital nuance that we've been putting back in.

So, tedious and dry if you stick to the thought, educative. But if you see past his 'I' that thinks and thinks and into the pooled space of life in which it appears?

Rossellini's Socrates offered warm interrogation. Descartes does haughty exposition. Socrates was also concerned with drawing limits to reason but it was to free thought. Descartes wants to make it concrete. One man therapeutic, the other arrogant and dogmatic in his way. This is why Rossellini includes his erroneous views on the boiling heart and fluid heavens around an immovable earth, we're meant to see a sometimes presumptuous man who is prone to error as much as anyone.

One reviewer seems to think that Rossellini undertook the project to celebrate reason over prejudice, not quite of course. That's only one side of it. Rossellini contemplates both sides; and does it with the hand of a cinematic master.

Another reviewer deems this worthy for classroom use; I agree, it's a solid exposition and likely the only one on the subject that we're going to have for a long time. But I'd also draw attention to this mechanical view of life that results from it; people are like trees in a forest Descartes muses, inanimate nature, his newborn baby is a perfect machine of nature, in the end when he grieves he wants to 'extinguish the senses' and withdraw to reflect.

(Exercise: put the man to the test, try to not think. It's okay to learn stuff, but how about we actually see our own mind for a change? Sit somewhere quiet, eyes closed, relax the body, focus on the breath thinking nothing. When the mind strays in thought gently bring it back. This is the preliminary for Buddhist meditation, so you can snoop around the web for better instructions, the concept is the same. Descartes was not trying to model some other 'I', it was this one in his own mind. What happens? Where is I?)

0 of 0 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: