Mention Roberto Rossellini and the films which are likely to come instantly to mind are his War Trilogy of Rome Open City, Paisan and Germany Year Zero. Then, thinking a bit more, you might come up with his Ingrid Bergman collaborations such as Europa ’51 and Stromboli. Here, in keeping with our remit of showing films you would not see elsewhere, we present four of Rossellini’s less well known — but equally accomplished and interesting — historical works from his later career where he began to use television as a means of reaching wider audiences.
The Taking of Power by Louis XIV
Roberto Rossellini | Italy | 1966 | 100 minutes
Filmmaking legend Roberto Rossellini brings his passion for realism and unerring eye for the everyday to this portrait of the early years of the reign of France’s “Sun King,” and in the process reinvents the costume drama. The death of chief minister Cardinal Mazarin, the construction of the palace at Versailles, the extravagant meals of the royal court: all are recounted with the same meticulous quotidian detail that Rossellini brought to his contemporary portraits of postwar Italy. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV dares to place a larger-than-life figure at the level of mere mortal.
Roberto Rossellini | Italy | 1972 | 129 minutes
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 | Italy | 1973 | 255 minutes
Roberto Rossellini’s three-part The Age of the Medici 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 (son of Vittorio), this grand yet intimate work is a storybook conjuring of a way of life and thought.
The Age of the Medici will be shown over three consecutive weeks, one per episode.
Roberto Rossellini | Italy | 1974 | 162 minutes
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.