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Pope Joan (2009)

Die Päpstin (original title)
A woman of English extraction born in the German city of Ingelheim in the ninth century disguises herself as a man and rises through the Vatican ranks.

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(novel), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Edward Petherbridge ...
Aesculapius
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Lotte Flack ...
Tigerlily Hutchinson ...
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Joan's mother
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Richard van Weyden ...
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Jordanes
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Storyline

German village Igelheim's backward priest hopes his sons to succeed him after education in the bishop's cathedral school, but the elder succumbs to disease and the youngest lacks any intellectual drive. Traveling teacher Aesculapius arranges for the inquisitive daughter Johanna to be enrolled too, against their father's wishes. Unfit for the boys-only dorm, she gets to stay with count Gerold, incurring his wife's due jealousy. She's to be dismissed, but survives a Viking pillaging slaughter and assumes brother Johannes's identity to join a monastery, where she becomes the infirmary's trainee. Fleeing exposure as female, she arrives in Rome. As a protégée of rivals in the viper nest-like papal court, she ends up elected as pope, but carries count Gerold's baby, guaranteeing exposure. Written by KGF Vissers

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Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Details

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Release Date:

22 October 2009 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Pope Joan  »

Box Office

Budget:

€22,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Volker Schlöndorff's own statements, he left the director's chair after an argument with the production company Constantin, which wanted to shoot a cinematic feature film version as well as a TV miniseries version at the same time. Schlöndorff disagreed with the terms and left. Franka Potente then left also out of loyalty to the director. See more »

Quotes

House Steward: Pardon me, Eminence. The girl has arrived. You had her fetched from Ingelheim.
Fulgentius: Oh yes, now I remember. That Greek scholar's idea. But am I seeing double?
House Steward: The boy is her brother. Their father, a Priest, insists that he too be allowed to attend the Scola.
Fulgentius: What do you know? I send for one and get two! If only the Emperor were as generous as these holy men from the countryside!
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Connections

Version of Pope Joan (1972) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
historical novel
18 November 2009 | by See all my reviews

Although critics in my native Greece were very circumspect when valuing this movie I disagree with them. Many found that it lacked grandiose crowds in the battle and acclamation of the Pope scenes, but I think that in reality medieval battles and the assembly of Roman plebeians acclaiming the Pope must not have been particularly grandiose events and that added a quality of realism to the movie.

Also the structure of the story, the equivalent of what Germans call Bildungsroman-that is the process of the development of character through life, was presented in a very able manner, showing the evolution of Joan, a simple but charismatic country girl, to supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

The love story subplot was also good adding romance to a tale that would have been dull otherwise and proving that even scholarly girls are not immune to the pleasures of the flesh.

I have to comment on the acting of Ms Wokalek, which I found admirable in the way that it portrayed the subdued power of the character of Joan under a facade of neutral manners and also the surprise role of John Goodman who played a larger than life exuberant and kindly Pope.

The evocation of the age was also excellent avoiding excesses, and presenting the mendacity of peasant life in the villages as well as the relative luxury of the ruling classes.

Of course the main point of the story concerned the barriers that gender and class posed to a talented poor woman during that dark age. I think the story has similarities with that of Joan of Ark. The final surprise, which I will not disclose, must have been a novelistic devise relative to modern concerns about the Church invented by the author of the novel on which the movie was based and not an integral part of the Pope Joan legend as preserved through the ages.

All in all a very able movie which I greatly enjoyed. It is a pity that the response of the Greek critics was at best lukewarm.


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