Bertolt Brecht's treatise on the responsibilities of scientists to the societies in which they operate and upon which their work can have uplifting or devastating consequences receives a decent, but muted, adaptation under Joseph Losey's direction. Brecht's theater-of-alienation techniques didn't survive the translation to the screen, which is probably a plus, and Losey does a fairly good job of making the material work as cinema (something which is not always true of other titles in the American Film Theatre series). Still, there's an almost inevitable talkiness to the affair which causes the film to drag in places. In the title role, Topol is good, but the part demands much more than good. Possibly wishing to instill audience sympathy, Topol fudges Brecht's view of Galileo as a weak traitor who betrays both himself and the larger society, opting instead to go the route of the unappreciated and misunderstood man of science. Still, Topol does deliver the goods in his big scenes, and the supporting cast, especially Georgia Brown, John Gielgud, and Clive Revill, is outstanding. Though less than perfect, Galileo still captures enough of the play's strengths to be worth viewing.
by Craig Butler review