Mathematician, scientist, and writer René Descartes (1596–1650) is relentlessly determined to establish the primacy of reason in Rossellini’s portrait of the travails of the “father of modern philosophy.” Cartesius is both entertaining and edifying, and directed with its filmmaker’s unerring attention to quotidian detail. —The Criterion Collection
Rossellini was one of the directors of the Italian neorealist cinema, contributing films such as Roma città aperta (Rome, Open City 1945) to the movement.
In 1937, Rossellini made his first documentary, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. After this essay, he was called to assist Goffredo Alessandrini in making Luciano Serra pilota, one of the most successful Italian films of the first half of the 20th century. In 1940 he was called to assist Francesco De Robertis on Uomini sul Fondo.His close friendship with Vittorio Mussolini, son of Il Duce, has been interpreted as a possible reason for having been preferred to other apprentices.
Some authors describe the first part of his career as a sequence of trilogies. His first feature film, La nave bianca (1942) was sponsored by the audiovisual propaganda centre of Navy Department and is the first work in Rossellini’s “Fascist Trilogy”, together with Un pilota ritorna (1942) and Uomo dalla Croce (1943). To this period belongs… read more
I'm hardly ever distracted by subtitles, but this film's almost continuous stream-of-monologueness really forced me to choose between the image and the text, which is a shame because Rossellini is practicing a cinematic minimalism here that is so often wrongly attributed to Bresson. To miss the most subtle of movements can be to miss the entire point of the scene. I wish it were dubbed into English.
Above: Marcello Di Falco (center right) as Cosimo de' Medici. Credit: Courtesy of the Criterion Collection. Roberto Rossellini must have