”Nowadays it is hard for us to grasp how sinister and revolutionary Galileo’s doubting the truth of opinions which had no basis but authority was and that it was considered a capital crime and punishment accordingly. Actually, we are by no means so far removed from such a situation even today as many of us would like to flatter ourselves.” Albert Einstein

In an age of deniers of everything from climate change to evolution, to the importance of truth, nothing compares to the most powerful institution the world has ever known doubting the fact of the earth’s movement around the sun.

In the time of Galileo, the Catholic Church was able to force a belief in their erroneous scriptural doctrine that the earth was at the center of the universe and motionless by threat of torture and, as was true in the case of Giordano Bruno, by being tied to a stake and burned alive in the center of Rome’s Campo de ‘Fiori.

This was the reality that constantly confronted Galileo as he relentlessly pursued the truth of his astronomical findings against the dictates of the Church over the course of his life. He somehow suspected a turning point would come reversing the universal belief system that he knew to be wrong, even though he couldn’t prove it scientifically during his lifetime.

He was both brave and tragically belligerent at the same time. It was reported that other giants of intellect of the time like Leonardo DaVinci also knew that the Church was wrong in their assumption of an earth centered universe, but somehow knew that the argument was not winnable and avoided confrontation, happy to pursue their work and art.

While on his life’s mission of uncovering the truth of existence, Galileo’s life was rich in lust, passion, and intrigue. The son of a frustrated mother, a genius father whom success always managed to elude, Galileo was driven to achieve greatness.

Demonstrating brilliance for mathematics early on, during a time when many considered it the work of the devil, he somehow knew that the entire world’s story could be told through its use and application. And this was the discipline that allowed him to turn his life around when he was able to take a toy, a weak magnifying tube used by children to enlarge things, and perfect it into a powerful telescope that allowed him to cruise through the heavens seeing things that had never been seen before.

His treatise, The Starry Messenger exploded throughout the world and he became one of the most famous men alive. Then his relationship with a servant that he met one drunken night at a friend’s turned into a 12-year affair of lust, dependency, passion and love. Marina Gamba, the absolute love of his life and the mother of his 3 children that he couldn’t bring himself to officially claim paternity for at the time of their births because his mother impressed on him the faulty logic that Marina’s ‘station’ in life was beneath his, was the woman that he never forgot and never forgave himself for leaving.

And then there is the great betrayal - when his best friend and admirer and fellow Tuscan, Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, a man who once wrote a poem about Galileo entitled, “In Adulation”, becomes Pope Urban VIII and turns on him. Jesuit scientists were jealous of Galileo and his accomplishments. Others in the Vatican despised Galileo’s ability to avoid prosecution by the Church given all of his many blatant acts against scripture, and consequently convinced Pope Urban VIII that Galileo had mocked him, belittled him in writing as a simpleton. As a result, the Pope forced Galileo’s trial for heresy and its predetermined outcome of guilt as an act of revenge.

StarStruck is therefore, in my eyes, a contemporary story - one of heroism and bravery constricted by powerful people and politics. It’s a paean to the individual who stands up to power and says “you’re wrong” in whatever form that might take. It’s a story about moving knowledge, awareness and consciousness forward at any cost. It’s ultimately a story about how we grow and move forward on our continuous trek out of ignorance to enlightenment as humans.