EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|SOCRATES (TV MOVIE) (director/writer: Roberto Rossellini; screenwriter: Marcella Mariani; cinematographer: Jorge Herrero Martin; editor: Alfredo Muschietti; music: Mario Nascimbene; cast: Jean Sylvčre (Socrates), Anna Caprile (Xanthippe), Ricardo Palacios (Crito), Giuseppe Mannajuolo (Apollodoro), Antonio Medina (Platone), Julio Morales (Antistene); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Renzo Rossellini; Criterion Collection; 1971-Italy/Spain/France-in Italian with English subtitles)|
|"Talky but engrossing made for TV
biopic on the doomed ancient Greek orator and
philosopher Socrates's last days."
by Dennis Schwartz
neorealist Italian filmmaker Roberto Rossellini ("Vanina
Vanini"/"Fear"/"Stromboli"), turning his
attention in his later years to historical films on
subjects like Blaise Pascal, Louis X1V, Augustine and
Cartesius, directs this talky but engrossing made for
TV biopic on the doomed ancient Greek orator and
philosopher Socrates's last days, when Sparta defeats
his Athenian democracy and the old sage is placed on
trial in an open-air court for corrupting the youth of
Athens. It's based on Plato's dialogues, and
the teleplay is co-written by Rossellini and Marcella Mariani.
The politically savvy pic effectively shows how
modern democratic society emulates how the ancient
Greek society mistreated its unorthodox teachers,
intellectuals and idealists in the same
misbegotten fashion of contempt. Rossellini
ably points out that living in a democracy does not
necessarily mean there is not an intolerance for
independent thought and humanistic urges, as the
director can recall recently how a democratic Italy
was so easily swayed over to the fascist side by a
power hungry fool like Mussolini.
stoical Socrates (Jean Sylvčre), a
flawed father-figure, endures a temper-tantrum from
his nagging wife (Anna Caprile) when coming
home after spending the last two days of the fall of
Athens with his idolizing male students wandering in
the wilderness instead of completing his errand to
buy bread for her and his starving children. It's
then off to the trial, as Socrates proclaims "I know
nothing" and a long debate begins to get at the
truth if he's a corrupter of society as the citizens
of Athens cast their innocent or guilty ballots in a
large plant pot. Most do not buy into Socrates'
opinion that he's only the facilitator in developing
the truth, and rather than escape, with the help of
his followers, Socrates drinks the hemlock provided
by one of his acolytes and serenely assures them he
was condemned to death by birth and is only
following a natural course of life.
arc of the brilliant film, based on the cold facts,
is in how much Rossellini
identifies with the immovable Socrates in relating
to how difficult it is to convey the truth if the
other person is not open-minded and doesn't adhere
to a philosophy of ‘Know
REVIEWED ON 2/22/2013 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ