Mary Poppins Returns
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Rossellini honors both sides of the era's metaphysical split
The biopic covers the life of the 17th-century French religious philosopher/mathematician/physicist Blaise Pascal.
Directed by Roberto Rossellini, "Blaise Pascal" starts in 1639 as Etienne Pascal(Giuseppe Addobbati) is appointed to govern Normandy by the king, in the wake of a civil war, to keep order and collect taxes. After he fires an assistant for being corrupt, he turns to his 17-year old son Blaise(Pierre Arditi) for help with the accounts. Not only can the young man do figures in his head, but he also completes a difficult geometry proof that brings him great renown. That is only the beginning as Blaise also invents an adding machine.
While not the most lively of productions, "Blaise Pascal" intelligently recreates history and the everyday life of the 17th century where superstition was the explanation for everything, especially for any ill, blaming such on Satan and his representatives on earth, witches. There were so many such cases that there was a months long backlog.(Of course, being a woman in general at this time meant having absolutely no rights. For example, Blaise's sister Jacqueline(Rita Forzano) has to even get permission to enter a convent and is kept away from any higher learning.) What Blaise Pascal does in his short lifetime is innoculate humanity from such backward thinking with scientific inquiry and observation, allowing humanity to accurately observe the natural world around them and make their lives that much better.
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