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 »
A man named Salem escapes from an insane asylum where he was confined for an axe-murder. Falsely convicted under a plea of "guilty due to insanity", he does not plan to let his sister and ... See full summary »
Joan Fisk, daughter of the American ambassador to France, is bored with entertaining the wives of visiting V.I.P.s and decides to conduct an experiment. She accepts a date with an American ... See full summary »
Olivia de Havilland,
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 »
Ambrosio (Franco Nero) is a monk who is sexually tempted by an emissary of the Devil, a young girl in monk's robes. After he has committed numerous crimes, it appears that he will be caught... See full summary »
Set in 1830's Texas just after the Republic won its independence from Mexico. The Republic's future is in doubt, with various factions and foreign powers hoping to sway matters to their own... See full summary »
Ana, the Princess of Eboli, wears a black patch over her right eye, where she was blinded as a youth when fighting a duel in defense of her king, the despotic Philip. Thereafter she and the... See full summary »
Olivia de Havilland,
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
The early 1970's was my favourite period in recent cinema history, classics such as Kubrick's Clockwork Orange, Skolimowsky's Deep End and Visconti's Death in Venice abound; but there are some, less than ringing endorsements of the era, this half-forgotten movie being one.
Liv Ullman, the embodiment of Scandinavian sang-froid, the epitome of ephemeral solemnity, plays Joan, a pious and youthful nun, who travels from a medieval convent, burnt down by Saxons, raping and pillaging, as if they misconstrued it for a set on a Ken Russell film, to Rome where disguised as a (rather attractive) young man, she wins her spurs, becomes a cardinal and eventually the first - and possibly last - female pope.
The trouble is, although Liv's performance is full of meaning and her fights against the alleged sin of lust, particularly enthralling, the editing, jumpiness and preposterousness of some scenes, leave an anxious viewer in need of redemption elsewhere.
True, it is interesting to see actors of the time - Lesley Anne Down, Maximillian Schell, Trevor Howard and Olivia de Havilland - giving robust performances, but a sandwich with an attractive filling is hardly worth eating if the bread is stale. And this is a stale mish mash, which ultimately fails to satisfy. It is a shame. The theme is interesting, whether the story is true or not. Given the current arguments amongst many religions on the role of women, it has significance for us in the 21st Century.
The scenery around Brasov, Romania, where it was filmed, which I visited post Ceausescu, is exemplary. Mind you, maybe the reason for the film's disjointed nature is just that - that the dictator, in his first flush of dictatorial youth, was in charge of production. There again, maybe Ceausescu was a woman. Now that would be a tale worth telling...
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