Originally a two-part mini-series for Italian television, this biopic of the philosopher René Descartes can be seen as the third part of an informal trilogy on 17th century France from director Roberto Rossellini alongside his The Rise of Louis XIV (1966) and Blaise Pascal (1971). The film dramatizes the scientific interests of Descartes (Ugo Cardea), with the philosopher arguing theories about the circulatory system at a medical dissection and being instructed in the wonders of the newly invented telescope by Constantin Huygens (Renato Montalbano) and the astronomer Ciprus (Vernon Dobtcheff). His more personal side is revealed in his relationship with his servant Elena (Anne Pouchie), whom he makes pregnant only to refuse to openly acknowledge the child. The film ends with the death of his daughter, after which Descartes retreats completely within himself.
by Nicole Gagne synopsis