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Blaise Pascal (1972)

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


Roberto Rossellini




Cast overview, first billed only:
Pierre Arditi ... Blaise Pascal
Rita Forzano Rita Forzano ... Jacqueline Pascal
Giuseppe Addobbati ... Étienne Pascal
Christian De Sica ... Luogotenente criminale
Livio Galassi Livio Galassi ... Jacques il servo
Bruno Cattaneo Bruno Cattaneo ... Adrien Dechamps
Giuseppe Mannajuolo Giuseppe Mannajuolo ... Florin Perrier (as Bepi Mannaiuolo)
Marco Bonetti Marco Bonetti ... Artus Goufier, duca di Roannes
Teresa Ricci Teresa Ricci ... Gilberte Pascal
Christian Aligny Christian Aligny ... Jean Dechamps (as Cristian Aleny)
Bernard Rigal Bernard Rigal ... Cancelliere Séguier
Melù Valente Melù Valente ... Charlotte Roannes
Lucio Rama Lucio Rama ... Moulinet
Mario Bardelli Mario Bardelli ... Matematico Pierre Petit
Claude Baks Claude Baks ... Cartesio


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

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Biography | History


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Pascal invented the first bus in 1662. See more »


Blaise Pascal: We tread with uncertainty, for we are caught between an infinity and an abyss of quantity, an infinity and an abyss of movements, and infinity and an abyss of time from which we can learn to truly know ourselves and enrich ourselves with thoughts worth more than the whole of geometry.
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Featured in Rossellini visto da Rossellini (1993) See more »

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The disembodied faith
4 May 2014 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

Okay we don't want an encyclopedic knowing for its sake, this was a point in Rossellini's previous film on Socrates. We want to swoop into things to find limits worth pushing against; the difficulties of truth, touch, clarity.

This is Rossellini's own roundabout approach. He sets up historic times in collapse so that we'll draw up a response, see it in effect. They're more than about ideas and history, though these are center stage. They're about men trying to embody ideas, make life out of them, practice reason rather than explain about it.

Here we have a man of powerful reason, a mathematician, who turns to god as the only refuge from meaningless existence. (We think these to be strange bedfellows, reason and faith, they're not for Rossellini. They were no more separate for scientists of the era; it's actually at around this time, the 1600s, that they begin to part ways. It was subsequent generations that posited a clockwork universe without a clockmaker. Suffice to say that science can't say anything about god; what did become obvious was books that could no longer be seen as more than myth and metaphor and a hypocritical hierarchy in charge.)

This is all in a late medieval world where someone can arrive at a remote place and with a document at hand, the King's orders, simply assume authority and (unfairly) tax people, where the witch trial of an obviously disturbed woman is sped up to facilitate business.

These are the limits of world then: one that is both stable enough and deeply irrational, much like our own then, where man can employ reason to make astonishing discovery about nature, and yet find reason incapable to explain beyond itself. Oh Pascal has to fight ignorance and prejudice but this can be waved off as a temporary setback; the real vexing question is what does it all amount to?

The discovery that prompts the inner turmoil is the vacuum, this is contrary to the old Greek notion then hallowed by tradition in the universities that nature (by extension god) abhors one. The implication (not very well conveyed in the experiment) is that something exists which is an absence of something and why would god (by extension nature) do this?

The question is how do we handle void in a larger sense? The inability to know all, spontaneity, transience, the corners that hide from reflection. This is the kind of stuff I'm trying to fathom myself. Now I'm a stranger to Pascal so can't say more about his own view. Having god in the thing may alienate viewers, the soulsearch and doubt will be familiar; we see here the onset of the suffering of modern man.

Rossellini knew what he was doing. By choosing this man for his subject and choosing to show him in this light, he seems to ask: what good is a god that is merely postponed for a next life, that doesn't ease the mind so that this life becomes clear? (compare with Augustine's faith here). Pascal isn't content and one gets the sense that god is no more soothing for him than his own discoveries.

At one point he comes up with an idea for an early system of public transport, effortlessly jots down the plans, it's a success, people congratulate him; unlike his private ruminations, here's a practical response that makes life better for people; and yet he seems neither happy nor particularly interested, it was no more than a pastime for him, insignificant compared to the great questions.

But what good is a life that isn't replenished in doing?

Still there is a notion that if only we could know everything, that would explain life. Rossellini picks this up in his Cartesius, even more subtle than here.

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Italy | France



Release Date:

16 May 1972 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Blaise Pascal See more »

Filming Locations:

Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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