In this story based on true events of 1917, three Portuguese children share a miraculous, prophetic vision of the Virgin Mary.In this story based on true events of 1917, three Portuguese children share a miraculous, prophetic vision of the Virgin Mary.In this story based on true events of 1917, three Portuguese children share a miraculous, prophetic vision of the Virgin Mary.
1917...the horror of WWI does not manage to spread totally with its destruction and death. Deep within the Portuguese Cova Da Iria, in the land ignored by the new corrupted masonic government (consider Alfonso Costa and the 1910 events), on May 13th a beautiful Lady from Heaven appears to three little children, Lucia (10), Francisco (9) and Jacinta (7). She asks them to come to the very place on every thirteenth day of consecutive months, asks them to offer sacrifices for human conversion and ... promises to give them a miracle. The news spread not only to nearby towns but to all Portugal. Parents fear and doubt; believers ask the children to pray; skeptics mock; Masonic mayor arrests them; yet, no one predicts that the place would become one of the most magnificent sanctuaries visited by a few pontiffs and millions of pilgrims from all over the world...
This movie was for long considered to be the most popular film about the events. However, more recently, for more than ten years, it has been compared to another film, FATIMA (1997) by Fabrizio Costa. Yet, the new version did not manage to eliminate Brahms' film from the list of best religious films; it did, however, lower its value due to quite obvious reasons. While THE MIRACLE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA has become quite clichéd, Costa's movie more convincingly addresses modern viewers thanks to a more developed interpretation of the events as well as well depicted plots. Although my intention isn't to compare the two films, I have to state clearly that there are three obvious facts that one cannot ignore about this 1950s' production.
Firstly, it is a typical Hollywood view of religion (which is not necessarily wrong but very condensed and not much thought provoking). Secondly, it is a movie made at the time when not much was yet revealed of what Fatima Apparitions are about. What I mean by this, in particular, is the Pontiff of John Paul II so closely linked to the Message of Fatima...here, naturally, nothing could be said about the Pontiff in 1952, which makes it now pretty dated a view of these highly prophetic apparitions. Thirdly, it is a typical story-like content where viewers are supplied with facts in a linear manner rather than a desirable insight into the Message: penance, sacrifice, conversion, peace. Although that view does not necessarily refer to the entire movie (there are some moments that clearly constitute exception to the highlighted factors), those absorb the viewer in majority. Nevertheless, it would be highly unjust not to see the merits of the film.
THE MIRACLE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA belongs to few of such films that nicely presents the historic characters that were part of the events. Here, let me start from the Seers of Fatima: it seems (and that is very accurate) that our attention is called upon Lucia dos Santos (Susan Whitney), who was the only child who talked with the Lady and whom Virgin Mary gave the three secrets in full (Jacinta saw and heard Mary while Francisco only saw Her but didn't hear anything). We see Lucia as a nice good hearted girl who is the oldest and... spiritually most mature (being 10 years old), who has faith but also doubts (if you read MEMOIRS written by Sister Lucy (1907-2005), you will find a lot about those doubts that she faced from May till October 1917). Jacinta and Francisco Marto are showed as if in the shadow of Lucia (pity, there is so little about their sacrifices for sinners) but the viewer gets a perfect view of their virtues at the scene with the cruel mayor of Ourem, Arturo Dos Santos (Frank Silvera). At the face of this evil man, his tricks and his arrogance, their courage, faith, confidence and goodness shine forth.
When we consider other characters, most of them are presented clearly and accurately, including Maria Rosa (Angela Clarke), Lucia's mother who had greatest doubts about the apparitions till the end of her life because of her reasonable modesty. She thought that her family was not worthy being granted such a grace. Yet, Love proves something different... I would have doubts concerning the portrayal of Antonio Dos Santos (Jay Novello), Lucia's father. According to her aforementioned MEMOIRS, her father had many friends in the village, they played cards in their free time and drank wine (which is absolutely common in the southern countries of hot climates). But being deeply religious, he wasn't an alcohol addict who would not attend Mass and plan to sell land depriving the family of means to live. Therefore, it is a serious distortion that may badly influence the view of the Dos Santos family which.
Nevertheless, the fact that this movie was made as early as the 1950s proves to us the interest in the miraculous events at Cova Da Iria which took place at the dawn of the 20th century. And it is good that it was made, that still many people in various countries see it and think about how the light of faith illumines the darkest hours of history.
But, neither much words nor action will help here. Such films are there rather to experience; they are there to change something in you. At the final scene, Sister Lucy seems to give an answer to what it means to be happy: 'Console Jesus and Mary and make sacrifices for the reparation of sins,' that is the story of the little shepherd Children, the story of their short but fruitful lives that have touched millions of people throughout the world. Isn't that the story of Love at the face of which only a fool would say that there is no God?
- May 30, 2010