Segments in this Video

Introduction: The Power of the Past with Bill Moyers: Florence (01:56)


Florence, Italy is a 20th century city with messages from the past. Bill Moyers investigates. (Credits)

Renaissance Florence (05:35)

Timothy Burton describes the city 500 years ago; art and architecture proclaims the Florentines a magnificent society. Sidney Alexander reflects on talent; artists are an important part of civic and religious life. Humanization of the divine is the main concept of the period.

Florence Baptistery (08:01)

The structure is one of the few remaining buildings from the Middle Ages. Interior mosaics depict the Christological cycle and bronze panels on the exterior doors depict biblical stories. Umberto Eco explains "the medieval spirit."

Baptistery Competition Submissions (06:06)

Moyers and Pierro Morselli examine model panels by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi. Ghiberti works on the commission for 50 years; many of the panels have been restored. Visitors admire the Baptistery doors and Ghiberti's inscription.

Florence Prosperity (03:08)

The city becomes the center of the cloth industry. Moyers tours the Palazzo Capponi; Niccolo Capponi discusses the family's history.

Artisan Workshops (03:30)

Wealthy patronage provides opportunities, but the workers are often peasant boys; the workshops become Renaissance art schools. Mr. Bartolozzi creates a replica of an 18th century vase and explains his artistic career.

Donatello (07:23)

The Bargello Museum houses some of the artist's work; he began his career as a stone cutter's apprentice. Moyers examines marble statues including "Zuccone." Art teaches Florentine citizens lessons about their public lives.

Masaccio (08:05)

In his works, the artist represents life as it is. Moyers examines frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel. Federico Zeri discusses medieval art; he believes Florence was a sad town.

Florentine Sport and Politics (07:14)

Calcio mimics feuds and vendettas. During the Renaissance, the Capponis are part of the rising merchant class that finances the artistic and cultural revolution and allied with the Medici family. Neri Capponi discusses Cosimo de' Medici and power.

"David" (03:19)

De' Medici commissions the statue from Donatello for his garden. The free-standing nude figure recalls the celebration of physical beauty from classical antiquity.

"Penitent Magdalene" (02:30)

Donatello's sculpture of Mary Magdalene encapsulates desolation, human tragedy, and the spirit of penitence; it provides a profound sense of the holy.

Filippo Brunelleschi (10:02)

Donatello dies in 1466 and is buried near de' Medici in the Church of San Lorenzo. The cupola for the Duomo is Brunelleschi's greatest achievement. Architects and engineers investigate how he covered the 130ft diameter hole.

Italian Renaissance (02:19)

Filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli reflects on the power of the Duomo and the Florentine need to strive for perfection.

Michelangelo (05:44)

The Florentine sculptor's marble statue "David" captures the spirit of the city. Alexander discusses its installation in the Piazza della Signoria, propaganda art, and the history of "David."

Capponi Family Archives (03:20)

The oldest document dates to 1308. Niccolo, Neri, and Moyers examine some of the documents and reflect on the artistic burden Florentines feel.

Medici Family Mausoleum (06:42)

Alexander and Moyers discuss Michelangelo's work and elements of Renaissance art. As an old man, Michelangelo begins working on a monument for his tomb.

Credits: The Power of the Past with Bill Moyers: Florence (01:35)

Credits: The Power of the Past with Bill Moyers: Florence

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The Power of the Past with Bill Moyers: Florence

3-Year Streaming Price: $199.95



From acclaimed filmmaker David Grubin, Bill Moyers tours the Renaissance legacy of Florence seeking sources of our common artistic, architectural, and cultural heritage. Guided by historians, Florentine citizens, and interviews with novelist Umberto Eco and filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli, we explore the roots of key contemporary ideas, like the preeminence of the individual.

Length: 87 minutes

Item#: FPT215283

Copyright date: ©1990

Closed Captioned

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