27
Nov 04

A handy, if dubious, piece of advice

Do You SeePost a comment • 360 views

A handy, if dubious, piece of advice I once received (slightly too late to be useful, alas) was this: when encountering a subject for the first time, have no shame about the triviality of the source. Brief, simple sources are less likely to be opinionated or wrong, the theory goes, and may well give you enough to hold your end of the conversation. It was in this sprit that I took on The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance, an hour’s worth of opulent history lesson about famous Florentine plutocrats.

It was a wise choice, although not really for that reason. Instead it turned out to be good fun watching the rich and near continuous documudrama – necessarily mute to accommodate the narration, and so taking on the feel of an up-budget silent movie. The Medicis, without exception, glide around Florence with stern expressions, other characters carefully show anything they might be up to.

And, terrifically, one Medici follower’s life is saved form the villainous Albizzi family’s sword when the Pope bursts into the room and glowers imposingly from the doorway. So there’s my contribution to those inevitable Medici arguments at the Christmas parties. Job done.

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