The Pictures Pick A Pontiff: Papal Conclaves On Film

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The Shoes of the Fisherman

By Mike Malloy

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Complex and arcane religious rituals wouldn’t seem to make for good filmed entertainment. And yet, the Vatican’s papal election process – occurring again this week to name a successor to Pope Benedict XVI – has been detailed in cinema almost as many times as the more Hollywood-sounding subject of papal assassination attempts.

And while the workings of the pontifical election conclave might not be surprising in a religious film, they were even deemed dramatic enough for inclusion in The Godfather Part III. Yep, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1990 crime epic takes a break between whackings to portray the 1978 conclave that elected the first Pope John Paul.

But more impressive than the fact that cinema has depicted this process is the fact that, on occasion, the movies seem to have gotten it right. When a
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