Jon Voight was originally offered the part of John Paul II in this TV film that came out in 1984 which was directed by Herbert Wise, but refused, giving Albert Finney the role instead. 21 years later, Voight finally accepted the role in 2005 in a remake for TV directed by John 'Kent Harrison' (8 months after the Pope's death) for which he received an Emmy nomination. See more »
I saw this film more than 15 years ago, yet it has kept within my memory ever since. Not only for Finney's performance (captivating and chamaleonic as usual), but rather for its portrayal of Karol Wojtyla as a strong, committed and cheerful man who finds joy, purpose and projection in his calling into priesthood. The Wojtyla pictured here is far from the intriguing cardinals ("The Body", "Stigmata") or frivolous and manipulative clerics ("Priest", "The third miracle") of recent "religious" films. It's rather more in the great tradition of Father Flanagan (Spencer Tracy in "Boys Town"), Father Barry (Karl Malden in "On the waterfront"), and a clear predecessor of Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons in "The Mission") and slained-in-reality Bishop Romero (Raul Julia in "Romero). We can see a man willing to love his people and ready to fight for them, not merely for political reasons but for evangelic and apostolic purposes. A man who sports and camps, and cares for others, and prays. A man who confronts his feelings under the guidance of wisdom, reason and faith, and a man who finally accepts tough challenges and responsibilities with humility and trust. Fortunately for us, since those descriptions are quite close to the real Wojtyla, and the film does a very good job in portraying them to make us realize the real man John Paul II is.
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