February 18th, 2011

Takarazuka Romeo and Juliet

Documentary review: The Medici, Godfathers of the Renaissance

I think everyone has heard the name "Medici" even if they don't know much about them, as I didn't. A powerful Italian family famous for intrigue and murder, the Medici patriarchs are also greatly responsible for the Italian Renaissance, nurturing and paying some of the most famous names in Italian history: Galileo, Michelangelo, Donatello, Botticelli.

In four episodes, this documentary series offers a very brief overview, and skews towards art, which means:

a) The Catholic Church mostly shows up to censor everybody and looks bad, so you might not want to watch if you're sensitive and

b) Many political things the Medici are famous for aren't mentioned; Catherine d'Medici is only mentioned once, for example, and she's arguably the most famous in the family. But her contribution was not artistic.

Done in a dramatic style, like a historical Dateline, actors perform scenes as the narrator talks of dramatic happenings, with occasional interview input from scholars. The result was occasionally silly, like when trying to recreate a dancing scene, but mostly worked very well; Galileo's fear as the Catholic Church threatens him with torture and burning is quite sad and disturbing, for example.

Fans of history and art should be quite interested in this.


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