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Did you catch the Pope movie?

Or rather, the before-he-was-Pope film, on the Hallmark channel? (This is the one that was shown to Benedict and others a couple of months ago). I saw parts of it – it seemed quite good.

I particularly enjoyed the LDS commercials in the middle, though, I must say.

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That Guy

posted August 16, 2005 at 12:01 am

Don’t bother about your movie CBS, this one blew away anything you could ever possibly make. The only drawback was that, after focusing a good deal on WWII — which was extremely good — they did move rather quickly from the 60s until he became pope. Four hours wasn’t long enough.
After seeing this, now more than ever — SANTO SUBITO!!!

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That Guy

posted August 16, 2005 at 12:04 am

I am convinced, now more than ever, that the hand of God guided JPM throughout his entire life.
Does anybody know — did they get permission to film in the Vatican? Were those scenes from the actual Sistine Chapel? They sure looked like the real thing.

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That Guy

posted August 16, 2005 at 12:45 am

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 12, 2005 – Vatican translation of the Sunday address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on the movie, “A Man Who Became Pope,” which depicts the life, times and true story of the journey of Pope John Paul II.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am certain to interpret the common sentiments and express living gratitude to those who wanted to offer me and all of you the opportunity to view this moving film tonight; it traces the life of young Karol Wojtyla, leading to his election as the Pontiff known as “John Paul II.”
I greet and thank Cardinal Roberto Tucci for his introduction to the film. I then address a word of admiration to the director and writer, Giacomo Battiato, and to the actors, especially Piotr Adamczyk who played the part of John Paul II, to the producer Pietro Valsecchi and to the networks Taodue and Mediaset.
I cordially greet the other Cardinals, Bishops, priests, Authorities and all those who wanted to take part in this viewing in honor of the beloved Pontiff, recently deceased. We all remember him with deep affection and heartfelt gratitude. Yesterday, he would have celebrated his 85th birthday.
“Un uomo diventato Papa” [A Man Who Became Pope] is the title of the drama, taken from a text by Gian Franco Svidercoschi. The first segment, as we have seen, highlights the situation in Poland under the Nazi regime, with emphasis — now and then very emotionally strong — given to the repression of the Polish people and to the genocide of the Jews. These are atrocious crimes that show all of the evil that was contained in the Nazi ideology.
Young Karol, shocked by so much suffering and violence, decided to do something about it in his own life, answering the divine call to the priesthood. 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.
At the same time, calling to the fore such aberration revives in every right-minded person the duty to do what he or she can so that such inhuman barbarism never happens again.
Today’s viewing takes place just some days after the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. On 8 May 1945 the conclusion was marked of that frightful tragedy which sowed destruction and death, in a measure never-before heard of, in Europe and in the world.
Ten years ago, John Paul II wrote that World War II appears with evermore clarity as a “suicide of humanity.” Each time a totalitarian ideology crushes man, humanity as a whole is seriously threatened. With the passing of time, memories do not have to fade; rather, they must be a stern lesson for this and future generations. We have the responsibility of reminding especially youth of the forms of unprecedented violence that can lead to contempt for men and women and the violation of their rights.
Under the light of Providence, how can we not read as a divine plan the fact that on the Chair of Peter, a Polish Pope is succeeded by a citizen of that Country, Germany, where the Nazi regime was the most vicious, attacking the nearby nations, Poland among them?
In their youth, both of these Popes — even if on opposing fronts and in different situations — knew the cruelty of the Second World War and of the senseless violence of men fighting men, people fighting people.
During the final days of the Second Vatican Council held here in Rome, the Polish Bishops consigned the “letter of reconciliation” to the German Bishops; the letter contained those famous words that today too resound in our souls: “We forgive and we ask forgiveness.”
In last Sunday’s homily I reminded the newly ordained priests that “nothing can improve the world if evil is not overcome.
Evil can be overcome only by forgiveness.” (L’Osservatore Romano English Edition, 18 May, p. 7). May the mutual and sincere condemnation of Nazism, as with atheistic communism, be everyone’s duty for the building of reconciliation, peace and forgiveness.
“To forgive,” our beloved John Paul II again reminds us, “does not mean to forget,” adding that “if memory is the law of history, forgiveness is the power of God, the power of Christ that works in the vicissitudes of man.” (cf. “Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II,” XVII/2 [1994], p. 250). Peace is, in the first place, a gift of God, who makes sentiments of love and solidarity arise in the heart of the person who welcomes it.
I hope that, thanks also to this witness of Pope John Paul II commemorated in this meaningful film, there will be a revival on the part of each person in the proposal to work — each in his or her own field and according to one’s means — at the service of a definite action for peace in Europe and in the entire world.
I entrust the hope of peace that all of us carry in our heart to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, who is venerated especially in this month of May. May she, Queen of Peace, encourage the generous contribution of those who intend to put their efforts toward the building of true peace on the solid pillars of truth, justice, freedom and love.
With these sentiments, I extend to all my Apostolic Blessing to all of you.
Benedict XVI

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posted August 16, 2005 at 1:29 am

I saw it and thought it was excellently done: intelligent, moving, serious, enjoyable and very Catholic in its treatment of all the people who crossed his path – Nazis, Communists, and traitors included – as redeemable through love.

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peter wilson

posted August 16, 2005 at 4:39 am

Hallmark deserves a lot of credit…as does the cast of this remarkable tv fare…for me it had a lasting impact…the suffering of this great Pole and Bishop transformed him into the ‘man who became pope’ and brought forth the fruit of a ministry that broke all precedent. Repeats SUnday morning at 9am on Hallmark…get a 6 hour VHS tape…you will want to save this for your family and friends.

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posted August 16, 2005 at 7:30 am

After seeing the movie, who could question the PJP II’s love for the Jewish people.
More so, he was not as conservative as the National Catholic Reporter would have us believe. Matter of fact, his approach for that time period was very progressive.

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posted August 16, 2005 at 7:31 am

I set up to tape it, then realized too late that the 3:00 running time listed in the summary was the running time without commercials. Guess I’ll have to try again on Sunday.

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posted August 16, 2005 at 8:07 am

I don’t have cable. My family’s satellite systems don’t include Hallmark.
But I saw the second part when it was on CBC a few months ago after JPII’s death.
Oh well.

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John J. Simmins

posted August 16, 2005 at 8:36 am

Good movie, not great. It did seem like they hit “fast forward” in 1960. I thought they could have stressed the supernatural a bit more — like the miracle from Padre Pio’s prayer. There was a natural tension being built in that story line that was not fully satisfied. I think that you could study JP2 for the rest of your life and still not know it all. Hallmark did a good job of showing how a man of Christ cannot be labled “conservative” or “liberal” and how people didn’t get JP2’s message. JP2 was so subversive because he wasn’t at all subversive, he just proclaimed the Gospel.

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posted August 16, 2005 at 8:40 am

It had pretty good production for a made-for-tv movie, but I thought the pacing was slow and kind of boring. I don’t think there was anything in the whole first hour of the movie to indicate Karol was even Christian. It was like he was just some Polish freedom fighter. It’s definitely a social history of JPII, rather than a religious one. All in all, it was ok.

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Maclin Horton

posted August 16, 2005 at 9:05 am

I saw the first half (two hours out of four), but had other things to do and taped the rest (I hope). I thought it was good–a B+ or A-. I’m a little puzzled by Jason’s remark above–although I’m not sure what was in the first hour and what in the second, that criticism didn’t occur to me.
From time to time I thought the actors were trying too hard to convey Big Emotions. And the director(s) chose to do one thing which always bugs me in a movie set in a non-English-speaking country: have the actors speak English with a foreign accent. Visually it was very convincing. The Nazi occupation was handled well–not sensationalized but very menacing.
All in all, from the half I saw, I’d say it’s very much worth watching.

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Maclin Horton

posted August 16, 2005 at 9:06 am

p.s. Just noticed the name of the actor who played JP. Maybe those accents are genuine? Still kind of an odd effect.

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Patrick Rothwell

posted August 16, 2005 at 9:11 am

I was sick as a dog last night and couldn’t sleep, so I curled up in a blanket and watched.
The good things about the movie included the production values and that the movie kept pious slush down to a minimum. The actor who played Wojtyla, especially as he got older, really did an outstanding job of portraying Wojtyla the bishop we all know. The portrayal of Wojtyla’s friendships (and hints of romantic interests?) with women as a young man were also quite interesting. Bad things: The movie was overly heavy-handed in its approach to the multitudinous horrors that Poland faced. The Communist boss who alone understood the threat that Wojtyla posed to the regime was a cartoonish villian. But the most problematic aspect about the movie is that the story line did not hang together very well. One thing happens, and the next thing happens, and then the next thing happens again without adequate explanations or transitions. Someone who did not know much about the life of Wojtyla would have been hopelessly confused. The appearance of Stefan Wyszynski seems to come out of the blue and does not hang together with the rest of the movie.
All in all, the movie was ok, but could have and should have been much better.

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Sue T.

posted August 16, 2005 at 9:19 am

I missed the first hour, but saw most of the the last three hours. It was a beautiful movie. I was so moved that I cried a couple of times.

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posted August 16, 2005 at 11:00 am

Only a couple of times? Heck, I was crying half the time. (Of course, even AT&T commercials could make me cry….)
I thought it was an exceptional movie, and I was especially impressed by all the real life details and bits of true stories they managed to get in. (Even the black beret!) I particularly liked the attention given not just to events, but to Karol’s poems, letters, and books — quotes galore. I was especially impressed by the treatment, both in quotes and events, of theology of the body. A really nice intro. I agree that it would have been nice to have at least a half hour more, though. (And I was amused by the way Arinze kept popping up behind him at church councils. If that’s not historical, I’m thinking somebody was putting in a papabile plug….) 😉
To be honest, I was kinda wishing that they’d done something about how Wojtyla met Ratzinger. Given that one was Polish and the other German, and that they became such friends and allies at the Council, there has to be a story there. (Even if the only story is that neither one cared about the oher one’s nationality.) But if they’d done it, I probably would have rolled my eyes at how the filmmakers were sucking up…. :)

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David Nowaczewski

posted August 16, 2005 at 11:25 am

I too thought it was quite solid, really authentic since it seems to have been shot on location, at least the parts in Krakow. I didn’t notice any LDS commericals though.

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posted August 16, 2005 at 2:40 pm

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone wrote a book or produced a film about the lives of these two men (Wojtyla and Ratzinger), juxtaposing their stories and culminating in their respective papacies? I think it would be a beautiful way of showing how God’s providence works in the history of mankind. But then, I guess it would have to be done after Pope Benedict XVI’s own death.
I saw this film last night and it was quite touching. I liked seeing how the Pope was just like any normal person. The only difference is that he allowed God to transform him into the kind of person He wanted him to be.

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posted August 16, 2005 at 4:01 pm

I thought it was excellent. It would, however, have been nice if the film was broken up into two 2-hour shows. 4 hours is a long time to watch a movie, no matter how good it is.
And just so everyone’s clear: Hallmark did not make the film; they simply aired it in the U.S. The movie was filmed in Polish, I believe, so it was dubbed for American audiences. I myself would have preferred subtitles, but the dubbing was actually very well done – it was almost hard to tell it was dubbed, except for some dialogue with young boys in the beginning who for some reason were dubbed using female voices.
“But the most problematic aspect about the movie is that the story line did not hang together very well.”
I agree some of the transitions were difficult. But it’s a biopic, and people’s lives rarely have the smooth transitions of literature, music and film.

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posted August 16, 2005 at 4:11 pm

It was well done as far as the production and acting go, but I was disappointed that they relied on so many composite or made-up characters and scenes as plot devices.
As I was watching, I kept think something wasn’t quite right – names and events I didn’t recognize from any of the bios I have read. Sure enough, “Hania” in the film is a composite of Halina Kralokowska and several other women who featured in the life of JPII (the real Halina also played a small role in the film as the landlady who was renting a room to Hania). Other characters in the film – Thomasz Zaleski, Adam Zielinski, and Kordek (played by the guy who was Pilate in Mel Gibson’s film) were either entirely made-up or composite characers.
The true story of Karol Wojtyla/JPII’s life is dramatic and gripping enough – it doesn’t need this sort of filmic embellishment distorting and misleading people.

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Donald R. McClarey

posted August 16, 2005 at 6:07 pm

I basically liked the movie, but I think anyone who knew little about Polish history during the period in question would have been very confused. Like much of the late pope’s writings, it had a lot of substance, but was somewhat heavy going.

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posted August 16, 2005 at 10:25 pm

I thought is was good – not great. Certainly respectful of the Catholic faith, which is, unfortunately, rare.
They took some liberties, but that’s understandable in creating the movie.
No LDS commercials through our satellite provider, but I was sick and tired of all the Enzyte ads. I couldn’t stand seeing “Smilin’ Bob” in back-to-back ads every commercial break.

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posted August 17, 2005 at 12:16 am

The commercials I saw were for a video on the life of Christ, provided by the LDS.

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Patrick Sweeney

posted August 17, 2005 at 8:43 pm

Readers of my blog got a “heads up” that this movie was coming. I taped it. I agree the pacing was slow at parts. In a regular movie there’s a little suspense regarding the outcome but here, certainly all the viewers know that the Nazis get kicked out in ’45 and the Reds get kicked out in ’90. I think the movie could have been helped with a voiceover narration to help bridge the gaps and move the story along faster. is the IMDB link. Others have complained that the accents reminded people of Colonel Klink in Hogan’s Heroes. That’s quite harsh but also a little true. For the connection of this movie to The Passion of the Christ visit my blog.

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Janka Durbanko

posted August 30, 2005 at 11:32 pm

excellent movie. I cried the most when Fr. Thomasz Zaleski helped the young german soldier(nazi) die. This proves that there are good people in the world and that hope does exist What a beautfiul movie

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posted December 1, 2005 at 10:26 pm

I thought the movie was beautiful, it showed how a simple man became a pope that transformed the world. I really liked how the end showed our beloved pope. Adamczyk was very convincing in this role, he showed what JPII went through to help humanity and his motherland. Showing what was happening in Poland during the war and how it influenced JPII was very well done. The movie
took you on a journey about how JPII became a priest, then a bishop and finally a Pope. In Poland, this movie was playing in theatres until September and the cinemas were constantly packed because the movie allows you to be closer to the deceased Pope and to understand why he had such a passion to going to meet people and deliver God’s message to them. I must admit I cried throughout most of the movie, as did most of the people I watched it with.

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