I was going to blog about this yesterday but I see Vivificat already beat me to it. =) This past weekend I saw “A Man Who Became Pope”, a dramatization of the early life of Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II, and I heartily recommend it. If it’s any incentive, the film was previewed by both Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II himself in a private viewing, receiving great approval:
“A Man Who Became Pope” was warmly received when screened at the Vatican’s Paul VI hall on May 19. “The film presents scenes and episodes that, in their severity, awaken in the viewers an instinctive ‘turning away’ in horror and stimulates them to consider the abyss of iniquity that can be hidden in the human soul,” said Pope Benedict XVI. “At the same time, calling to the fore such aberrations revives in every right-minded person the duty to do what he or she can so that such inhuman barbarism never happens again…I…express living gratitude to those who wanted to offer me. . . . the opportunity to view this moving film.”
Vatican press spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said Pope John Paul II had seen the film in its entirety in a private viewing before his death and was “very impressed” with the portrayal and “appreciated the many scenes” from that period in his life.
Those watching the film with prior knowledge of JPII’s life will enjoy certain scenes (his tutoring a student in the phenomenology of Max Scheler, for example, or his postwar reunion with lifelong Jewish friend Jerzy Kluger, who would play an instrumental part in the Vatican’s recognition of Israel). But even those for whom this is an introduction to JPII will find the plot compelling and the acting exceptional (I did not realize it until Pedro pointed it out, but one of the actors played Pontius Pilate in Gibson’s Passion of the Christ).
All in all, this is a stirring testament to the enduring power of Christ’s love and forgiveness. It will receive encore presentation” on the Hallmark channel on August 27 (see ThePopeDocumentary.com for further details).
For those who don’t have cable it is now available on DVD. [Sorry, I thought I saw an advertisement for a DVD release on the official website. Let’s hope they’ll release it due to popular demand? — Chris]
Update! – The trouble with “Karol”, by George Weigel. “The Catholic Difference”. Papal biographer George Weigel takes serious issue with some of the fictionalized elements of the film. I think we can expect that a “made for television” movie, even if intending to portray the life of a major figure, is going to engage in some creative rewriting for purposes of dramatization. If it passed muster with both JPII and B16, it’s all right with me — but then Weigel’s certainly entitled to his opinion.