Monday, May 10, 2010


I was so engrossed in "Paul VI: The Pope in the Tempest" that the part two opening credits took me by surprise. From the opening sequence through the entire film, Italian director Fabrizio Costa's made-for-TV film chronicles the priesthood of Fr. Giovanni Baptista Montini against the volatile backdrop of a world in constant change as it continually crashes against the unyielding walls of truth that Fr. Montini would spend his life, and sometimes his public regard, upholding.

The film begins with Montini as a young priest appointed to the Vatican under Pope Pius XI. He would serve as Secretary of State and Archbishop of Milan before being elected Pope by a reportedly unanimous decision. He was the first Pope to travel in over 100 years, visiting every populated continent on earth; he took on the Second Vatican Council midway and saw its completion; he lived through fascism, war, reconstruction, civil unrest and tenaciously upheld the truth through it all, whether it was accepted or not.

Portraying the 263rd Pontiff was given to the very capable Fabrizio Gifuni, one of Italy's most sought-after actors. Too often we forget that the successors of St. Peter are before anything human beings. Gifuni's performance affirms Paul VI's humanity through depicting him with compassion and a natural ease.  His performance was bolstered by some of Italy's most prominent and accomplished actors--Mauro Marino, Antonio Catania, Licia Maglietta, and so many more--who brought more of that same authentic humanity to the film.

Costa used real news footage to punctuate the historical elements of his aptly shot film, as highlights to the more important elements of the story. They could have been woven in slightly better, but overall it worked. Costa remained as accurate as he could to history. Nothing was sugar coated in this film. Paul VI's positions were not always popular, particularly after issuing the two encyclicals which ultimately defined his papacy: Populorum Progressio and Humanae Vitae. Through the human stories, though, we can begin to see the incredible burden the Holy Father must bear, at unbelievable personal costs.

There is plenty in this film on which to chew. I'm definitely a subtitle girl, and am glad that this film wasn't overdubbed, as it would have altered the brilliant performances. If you're not used to subtitles, or if you've never watched a film with subtitles, this is a good film with which to start. Additional features include a 16-page booklet and a documentary on Pope Paul VI.  Overall, "Paul VI: The Pope in the Tempest" is a film that every Catholic should see.

You can purchase this movie here.

I wrote this review of Paul VI for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for First Communion Gifts. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River. (Woo hoo! Lucky me!)


Gus said...

Great movie......

I highly recommend watching it

Gina said...

thanks gus!

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