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Pope Joan (1972)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  29 September 1972 (West Germany)
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 251 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 2 critic

This movie is based on the medieval legend of Pope Joan, who was made Pope for a brief period around 855 A.D. Although it is questionable that Pope Joan really did exist, this movie ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joan's Father
Natasa Nicolescu ...
Joan's Mother
Sharon Winter ...
Joan as a child
Margareta Pogonat ...
Village woman
Richard Bebb ...
Lord of Manor
Peter Arne ...
Patrick Magee ...
Elder monk
George Innes ...
Young monk
Susan Macready ...
Sister Nunciata
Shelagh Wilcocks ...
Sister Louise
Mother Superior
Emperor Louis


This movie is based on the medieval legend of Pope Joan, who was made Pope for a brief period around 855 A.D. Although it is questionable that Pope Joan really did exist, this movie presents her existence as fact, and portrays her relationships with other notables of the time. Written by edk <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 September 1972 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The Devil's Imposter  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The original plan was to shoot on location in Italy but this proved too expensive so the film was made at Bray Studios outside London, home to the Hammer horror movies. Some location work was done in Romania and Cyprus. Shooting in Romania proved to be rather difficult, given that there was hardly anything of a native film industry and also because the country was very tightly controlled by the Communist regime. See more »


Featured in A Quiet Revolution (1972) See more »


Veni Creator Spiritus
Sung by The Sistine Chapel Choir
Under the Direction of Domenico Bartolucci
See more »

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User Reviews

Very good film although flawed
27 January 2007 | by (Connecticut, United States) – See all my reviews

I found the film version of the Pope Joan story compelling viewing because it conveyed the force and importance of Joan's spiritual calling yet portrayed her as an breathing human being (this may be somewhat ironic since it is possible she is only a legend). Here is a woman who hears God's voice and the voice of carnal longing. She is neither the lowly whore nor the ethereal virgin. Also, it is refreshing to see films where spirituality and belief in God are taken seriously.

I found the performances to be excellent, especially those of Liv Ullman and Trevor Howard. Ullman is very good at portraying the vertical pull of spirituality and the wrenching ambiguity of living in the material world. Trevor Howard's performance was utterly convincing. Also, Susan Winter had a quiet presence about her in her brief performance as the young Joan, which impressed me. What a tenuous thing to be a young girl in the Medieval age - what a microcosm she is of all human existence.

This film has its flaws, most notably the disjointed editing and jarred pacing. I do not quibble, however, with the less than ideal sound quality of the dialog or the occasional white lines which momentarily appear on the screen now and again because when I watch a film, I accept the film on its own terms; I do not wish it was something it isn't - a film made on a modest budget in 1972 should not be expected to look and sound like a mega-budget blockbuster filmed in 2006. On the whole, this movie is a success.

Cautionary note: not a movie for kids.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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