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A priest from the Vatican is sent to Sao Paulo, Brazil to investigate the appearance of the face of the Virgin Mary on the side of a building. While there he hears of a statue of the Virgin Mary bleeding tears in a small town outside of the city. Meanwhile, a young woman in the U.S. begins to show signs of stigmata, the wounds of Christ. The priest from the Vatican links up with her and cares for her as she is increasingly afflicted by the stigmata. Her ranting and raving finally begins to make sense to the priest who starts to question what his religion has stood for for the last 1900 years. Written by
Jeff Mellinger <email@example.com>
When Father Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne) comes in the Vatican office to get is new assignment, we can hear a bit of Italian speaking in the back between Cardinal Daniel Houseman (Jonathan Pryce) and another priest. Translation: "Rest assured, none of this will ever leave this room." See more »
In the bathtub scene, we see numerous shots of Frankie suggesting she is completely naked in the tub (without seeing actual nudity). Right after she places the fallen feather on the side of the tub, the unseen "force" pulls her backwards into the water. As she is falling back, we can clearly see she is wearing a flesh colored bra or bikini top. See more »
The "stigmata" is a Christian religious term that refers to the spontaneous appearance of wounds corresponding to the wounds on the Christ's body when he was crucified. This religious experience is most typically associated with deeply religious people and, I believe, is not one that is widely taken seriously. What makes this movie interesting is that it portrays the appearance of these wounds as a terrifying, extremely painful and ultimately humiliating experience. There's nothing conventionally religious in the experience portrayed here -- in fact, the victim is an athiest.
But, having bypassed the conventional, the movie is only partially successful in bringing the experience of the stigmata to the screen. The movie is a victim itself of a conventional portrayal of the evil bureaucratic Vatican desk jockeys suppressing "true" religion. And I have to admit that, as I was watching it, I found myself thinking, "Hmm, that sounds like the Gospel of Thomas," -- a famous Gnostic Gospel. Surprise.
But, overall, I'd recommend it as a decent movie and a departure from the generic, bland portrayal of Christian religious experience a la the Hallmark channel or "Touched by an Angel." It is a movie that can make you think about the nature of religious experience and its impact on an ordinary life.
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