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Rossellini’s History Films—Renaissance and Enlightenment

 

Blaise Pascal (1972)       The Age of the Medici (1973)       Cartesius (1974)

 

In the final phase of his career, Italian master Roberto Rossellini embarked on a dramatic, daunting project: a series of television films about knowledge and history, made in an effort to teach, where contemporary media were failing. Looking at the Western world’s major figures and moments, yet focusing on the small details of daily life, Rossellini was determined not to recount history but to relive it, as it might have been, unadorned but full of the drama of the everyday. This selection of Rossellini’s history films presents The Age of the Medici, Cartesius, and Blaise Pascal—works that don’t just enliven the past but illuminate the ideas that brought us to where we are today.

 


Titles

 

 


 

Blaise Pascal (Roberto Rossellini, 1972)
In this evocative, atmospheric biography, Roberto Rossellini brings to life philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal, who, amid religious persecution and ignorance, believed in a harmony between God and science.

The Age of the Medici (Roberto Rossellini, 1973)
Rossellini’s three-part series is like a Renaissance painting come to life: a portrait of fifteenth-century Florence, ruled by the Medici political dynasty. With a lovely score from composer Manuel de Sica, this grand yet intimate work is a storybook conjuring of a way of life and thought.

Cartesius (Roberto Rossellini, 1974)
As profoundly simple as its hero’s famous statement “I think, therefore I am,” Roberto Rossellini’s Cartesius is an intimate, psychological study of obsession and existential crisis.

Theatrical Releases: 1972 - 1974

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Eclipse Series 14 from the Criterion Collection (4-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Bitrates: Respective bitrates - 6.3, 6.2, 6.1, 5.8 mb/s
Time: 2:09:40 for Blaise Pascal, 1:22:24, 1:21:24, 1:31:45 for Age of Medici and 1:14:06 + 1:27:42 for Cartesius
Bitrate:

Blaise Pascal

Bitrate:

The Age of Medici Disc 1

Bitrate:

The Age of Medici Disc 2

Bitrate:

Cartesius

Audio

Blaise Pascal: Italian or French  (Dolby 1.0)

The Age of Medici: English (DUB) or French  (Dolby 1.0)

Cartesius: Italian  (Dolby 1.0)

Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Eclipse / Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

  •  one page (for each film) of liner notes in the transparent case


DVD Release Date: January 13th, 2009

3 Transparent Keep Cases (2 slim, 1 double) inside a Slipcase cardboard box (see image above)
Chapters: Various

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The features of this boxset are housed in 3 individual transparent keep cases (see image above) and they are not sold separately at this time. These particular NTSC editions can only be obtained in Criterion's Eclipse Series Fourteen - Rossellini’s History Films—Renaissance and Enlightenment package at present.

They are divided as follows - Blaise Pascal (1972) is on the first dual-layered disc, The Age of the Medici has its first 2 parts, The Exile of Cosimo and The Power of Cosimo on the first dual-layered disc of the second larger box and part three, Leon Battisti Alberti: Humanism, on the second, a single-layered disc, with Cartesius (1974), and its two episodes, on a dual-layered disc in the third slim keep case.

There is quite a lot in this package - over 9 hours of the features originally shown on television in Italy. DVDBeaver ListServ member Tag Gallagher states in his 4-page essay in Age of Medici box that this was originally spoken by the actors in English with post-dubs in hopes of selling to the US Public Television broadcast, which declined. Blaise Pascal has Italian or French language on the disc, The Age of Medici offers a choice of English or French, and Cartesius is solely in Italian. All three have optional English subtitles.

Three of the four DVDs are dual-layered and very slightly pictureboxed with the exception of disc 2 of Age of Medici box which is single-layered and fills the entire 1.33 screen.  Each are coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard.

 

Image and audio quality is consistent and acceptable with only part 3 of Medici breaks up into heavier noise, more noticeable in monochromatic blacks, later in the presentation - actually, it often resemble grain (but is not). They are all very clean (expectantly at around 25 years-old) and I can't see that Criterion have done any extensive digital manipulation (ex. bringing up black levels). Overall, the transfers are perfectly suitable for appreciating this fine series.

Bitrates are moderate in the 6.0's MPS and again show the competent nature of the DVD rendering.

Aside from one page liner notes (also by Tag) for two slim keep case packages (visible on the inner case sleeve through the transparent case cover) and Tag Gallagher's fine 4-page booklet inclusion, there are no supplements. This is consistent from Eclipse. 

The mono audio tracks are likewise clear and consistent and the subtitles seem suitably translated without précising although the English, stated as DUB, in Medici doesn't 100% duplicate the subtitles.

 

Whether I was in a convenient post-Christmas relaxation mood or not I thoroughly enjoyed these historical recreations. Certainly, if nothing more, they are thought-provoking and I found each to be highly intelligent in their own right.

It is with a strong level of certainty that I believe that outside of this Eclipse package, I would never have had the opportunity or desire to view these Rossellini projects. The Eclipse ideal of exposing the 'lost, forgotten or overshadowed' seems perfectly suitable to this set and we should certainly appreciate having these available at the reasonable price of around $10/disc. Step into another time and enjoy parts of the Renaissance as seen through one artistic visionary's eyes. Strongly recommended!

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus



Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

In this evocative, atmospheric biography, Roberto Rossellini brings to life philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal, who, amid religious persecution and ignorance, believed in a harmony between God and science.

 

Screen Captures

 

Blaise Pascal (Roberto Rossellini, 1972)

Subtitle Sample
 

 

 

 

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

Rossellini’s three-part series is like a Renaissance painting come to life: a portrait of fifteenth-century Florence, ruled by the Medici political dynasty. With a lovely score from composer Manuel de Sica, this grand yet intimate work is a storybook conjuring of a way of life and thought.

Screen Captures

 

The Age of the Medici (1973)

 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

As profoundly simple as its hero’s famous statement “I think, therefore I am,” Roberto Rossellini’s Cartesius is an intimate, psychological study of obsession and existential crisis.

 

 

Screen Captures

 

Cartesius (1974)

 

 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

 

Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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