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The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968)

G | | Drama | 14 November 1968 (USA)
Ukrainian Archbishop Kiril Lakota is set free after two decades as a political prisoner in Siberia. He is brought to Rome by Fr. David Telemond, a troubled young priest who befriends him. ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Premier Piotr Ilyich Kamenev (as Sir Laurence Olivier)
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The Elder Pope (as Sir John Gielgud)
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Rosemary Dexter ...
Chiara (as Rosemarie Dexter)
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Igor Bounin
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Chairman Peng
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Gelasio (as Arnoldo Foa')
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Augustinian
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Gorshenin (credit only)
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Tovarich Vucovich
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Storyline

Ukrainian Archbishop Kiril Lakota is set free after two decades as a political prisoner in Siberia. He is brought to Rome by Fr. David Telemond, a troubled young priest who befriends him. Once at the Vatican, he is immediately given an audience with the Pope, who elevates him to Cardinal Priest. The world is on the brink of war due to a Chinese-Soviet feud made worse by a famine caused by trade restrictions brought against China by the U.S. When the Pontiff suddenly dies, Lakota's genuine character and unique life experience move the College of Cardinals to elect him as the new Pope. But Pope Kiril I must now deal with his own self-doubt, the struggle of his friend Fr. Telemond who is under scrutiny for his beliefs, and find a solution to the crisis in China. Written by Anonymous

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All the dramatic power of the best-selling novel is now on the screen! See more »

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Drama

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G | See all certifications »

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14 November 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

As Sandálias do Pescador  »

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the scene where the conclave electrician call to his companion, the spanish dubbing changed the name from "Franco" to "Angelo". At that time of the film, in Spain the head of the state was the dictator Francisco ...Franco. See more »

Goofs

Kiril Lakota is often identified as a Russian, when in fact he is an Ukrainian, a different ethnic group. Ukraine was then part of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, Westerners - especially Americans - typically referred to the Soviet Union as "Russia" and did not distinguish between various nationalities within the Soviet Union, referring to all of them as "Russians." See more »

Quotes

Kiril Lakota: You know, David, for many men belief is a place to crawl for safety. Of course, they will fear and accuse you. Your writings are a danger to their safety.
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User Reviews

 
An Ukrainian Catholic bishop is elected Pope and tries to prevent WWIII.
13 May 2005 | by See all my reviews

The election of a Pope from behind the former Iron Curtain has come to pass. The proposition that China would launch a military invasion of its neighbors to feed its starving masses was implausible even in 1968. All the major powers, including the former Soviet Union would not have stood for it. And today, with China being the most active powerhouse of the world economy whose interests are intertwined with the United States and the European Union, the proposition of a Chinese military adventure for economic gain seems preposterous.

What remains to be current in the film is the subplot regarding Fr. Telemond (Oskar Werner) who is based on the real-life Jesuit scholar, Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, a paleontologist who got in trouble with the Roman Curia because of his attempt to reconcile science and religion through a new theology based on the natural sciences. This aspect of the film came to mind as I followed developments on the controversy between proponents of the "intelligent design" approach in teaching science versus the secular evolution approach.

In the film, Fr. Telemond in expounding on his theological evolution before a papal commission of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith could not adequately explain his adherence to the idea that God created the world through evolution when it was pointed out to him that evolution proceeds through violence (cf. "survival of the fittest") which would mean that God is the "author of violence" as Cardinal Leone (portrayed by Leo Mckern) put it. In hindsight, the Catholic Church had long ago made peace with evolution when Pope Pius XII said that it doesn't matter how the creation of the world is explained as long as it does not preclude or deny the existence of The Creator.

The current brouhaha in Kansas is the product of a misunderstanding of evolution both by the religionists and the agnostic-atheists. The theory of evolution along the now classical Darwinian lines does not explain the origin of life but only the diversity of life. Much less does it attempt to explain the origin of the universe.

Unfortunately, the enemies of religion ever since the Enlightenment have tried to use science to disprove the existence of God and there are those among them, either misinformed or malicious, who teach that evolution and astrophysics have negated the idea of the existence of a Creator. Current understanding of quantum physics imply that the substance of matter in its smallest manifestations may not be "material" after all, in the sense that "matter" has been understood. Einstein, of course, has shown the equation between energy and matter. But more recent discoveries borne out of smashing atoms and subatomic particles indicate that the smallest quanta are capable of uniting with other particles not because of their materiality nor even of their energy content, but because of the information they contain. Thus, the perceived self-organization of "matter" seems to be guided by antecedent information it contains. So the intriguing question is begged: Who put that information there?

Clearly Kiril was sent to the Gulag because he is a Catholic Bishop in an atheistic Soviet empire. Worse, he is Ukrainian Catholic. Even under Czarist Russia, a confessional state under Greek Eastern Orthodoxy (in this case Russian because the Greek Orthodox Church is divided along national lines), Catholics were frowned upon. The Ukrainian Catholics though not Roman Rite Catholics, have their own rite and are united with the Holy See. And of course, the Ukrainians never thought of themselves as simply an ethnic group within Russia but as an actual nation, an attitude that did not sit well with the ruling powers at the Kremlin.

Trivia: In both the movie and the book, members of the Curia wondered whether Pope Kiril would use the traditional crucifix (a cross with the corpus depicting Christ) as his pectoral cross, the sign of his office as Bishop of Rome according to the Latin Rite or, whether he would use an icon. As historical perspective, the Iconoclastic Controversy (when some quarters interpreted images as idolatrous in the Old Testament sense) in the Byzantine Empire was resolved by allowing representations of God and His saints in flat or semi-flat media as in painting and mosaics but not in the round as in statues. Pope Kiril stuck with the icon. Typically that would have shown Christ on one side and the Virgin Mary as the Mother of Perpetual Help on the other.

You would note also that Kiril opted to use his own name with his title of Pope foregoing a tradition of taking the name of a saint or predecessor whose examples a pope wishes to emulate during his reign. This was well as it should have been because Kiril is obviously named after St. Cyril, who with his companion St. Methodius converted the Slavs to Christianity. They, of course, came from the Eastern Roman Empire (now referred to by historians as the Byzantine Empire) whose center of power was Constantinople where Greek had supplanted the Latin of the fallen Western Roman Empire.

The line I liked best in the movie was delivered by the Soviet Premier (played by Olivier) who, upon seeing Bishop Lakota (Quinn) after so many years in the Gulag, remarked (and here I freely quote from memory): "Before you acted as if you had the truth in your own private pocket and no one could dispute it with you. But now you don't seem so sure. I like you better now."


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