L'Età di Cosimo de Medici (The Age of Medici), 1973
Dir: Roberto Rossellini
I'm guessing that most of Rossellini's later "history films" that he made for television are similar to this and The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (1966). The reason I would rate the latter as being better is simply because it isn't nearly 4 hours long. Medici is separated into three episodes, which broken up you could make a case that they are on par with Louis, but the overall effect is something much more tedious. But again, that isn't to say that this stuff isn't interesting. How Cosimo de' Medici became one of the most influential men in Europe is similar to how Louis had to consolidate his power once the opportunity presented itself. It's not boring or exciting, but interesting. And in every scene, a character gives his own views on art, The Renaissance, and Western Civilization in general. If you can't derive any sort of self-truth from that, you probably shouldn't be watching films. But from this, I have another problem (which is actually my fault, sort of). 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 that is hard to catch. To miss the most subtle of movements can be to miss the entire point of the scene. I wish it were dubbed into English (which with almost any other type of film I would certainly not want). These history films really create a tug-of-war between my ability to stay focused and engaged with the seemingly dull machinations of the film and the interesting details of history being captured as cinema. I must say, I fail a lot of the time, as I am a product of what modern media has made of me. There is something to say about being taught something without being preached to, and anything that makes me think is something worth watching.