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CARTESIUS(TV MOVIE) (director/writer: Roberto Rossellini; screenwriter: Marcella Mariani/Renzo Rossellini/Luciano Scaffa; cinematographer: Mario Montuori; editor: Jolanda Benvenuti; music: Mario Nascimbene; cast: Ugo Cardea(Rene Descartes), Kenneth Belton (Isaak Beeckman); Runtime: 155; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Roberto Rossellini; Luce DVD-PAL format; 1974-Italy-in Italian with English subtitles)
“Never excites.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An arthouse biopic TV movie of Rene Descartes, the 17th century French philosopher and mathematician, famous for saying “I think, therefore I am”. Efficiently directed and co-written by Roberto Rossellini (“Socrates”/”Stromboli”/”Open City”). Unfortunately it never excites. The great Italian film-maker in his later years made historical TV movies about leaders in the Renaissance and Enlightenmentperiods, that were meant to be teaching devices and are well-researched for their accuracy. The enacted dramatization is filled with small details about the wealthy curious Catholic’s intelligent life as an explorer for truth and a man of reason, and it adequately covers the heated theological debates in Europe at the end of the Reformation. Descartes spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic, as he became one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution.The no-nonsense biopic gives youin a nutshell the introverted great man’s views on rationalism and lets you see how he interacted with a few of the other great thinkers of the time.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”