Ukrainian Archbishop Kiril Lakota is set free after twenty years as a political prisoner in Siberia. He is brought to Rome by Father David Telemond, a troubled young priest who befriends him. Once at the Vatican, he is immediately given an audience with the Pope, who elevates him to Cardinal Priest. The world is on the brink of war due to a Chinese-Soviet feud made worse by a famine caused by trade restrictions brought against China by the U.S. When the Pontiff suddenly dies, Lakota's genuine character and unique life experience move the College of Cardinals to elect him as the new Pope. But Pope Kiril I must now deal with his own self-doubt, the struggle of his friend Father Telemond, who is under scrutiny for his beliefs, and find a solution to the crisis in China.
Anthony Quinn had campaigned for Sir Laurence Olivier to appear in the movie, although Olivier was upset that Quinn had to leave the Broadway production of "Becket" to appear in 'Barabbas' and they hadn't spoken in years. See more »
Kiril Lakota is taken from a Siberian labor camp to Moscow over a water route during winter. This is a very slow and impractical route. See more »
My brothers, if this is the last sound made by the last living man, it must be shouted loud and clear. Life is a gift of God.
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Interesting but overlong picture about a new Pope and his fights to spread justice
Set in a futuristic vision of the late 1980's, Ukrainian Archbishop Kiril Lakota (Anthony Quinn , though Rex Harrison was originally considered to play the role) is set free after spending several years as a political prisoner in Siberia where carries out forced works . Although it is never mentioned or indicated at any point in the film, the story is actually set 20 years in the future . The Ukrainian man is brought to Rome by Fr. David Telemond (Oscar Werner) , a troubled young priest who is under scrutiny for his beliefs and befriends him and he contends adversities until rising to cardinal and lately Pope . Once at the Vatican, he is immediately given an audience with the Pope (John Gielgud , he subsequently played Pope Pius XII, in The Scarlet and the Black (1983) and Elizabeth (1998), where he played Pope Pius V) , who elevates him to Cardinal Priest . The priest turned Pope singlehandedly attempts to stop bigotry , strife , famine , world conflict , his own personal conflicts and many other difficulties . As the world is on the brink of war due to a Chinese-Soviet feud made worse by a famine caused by trade restrictions brought against China by the U.S. When the Pontiff suddenly dies , Lakota's genuine character and unique life experience move the College of Cardinals to elect him as the new Pope But as a good pacifier , he has to find a solution to Chinese starvation , plus the crisis between China (Burt Kwouk as Chinese leader) and Russia (Laurence Olivier, as one of the Russian Premiers) . Meanwhile , a correspondent (David Janssen) attempts to patch his petty marital troubles at a loving triangle between wife (Barbara Jefford) and young lover (Rosemary Dexter) .
This is a moving but overlong film and in some moments results to be dull ; based on Morris L. West's best seller that contains drama , interesting world policy , emotion and historical events . Good film with thought-provoking issues and dealing with an Ukrainian's rise from a simple imprisoned priest to the college of Cardinals until becoming Pope . The film is pretty well but being wasted by a loving triangular drama between a reporter , spouse and girlfriend . Very good acting by Anthony Quinn as Pope Kiril I who must now deal with a lot of problems as his own self-doubt , the struggle of his friend priest and tries to fend off atomic war ; this type of treatment was a big turning point for Quinn . Reference is made to Kiril being the first non-Italian pope to be elected since Adrian VI 400 years earlier . In real life, this happened 10 years after this film was released with the election of Pope John Paul II .
The footage showing the arrival of the Cardinals and the crowds gathering in St. Peter's Square is taken from news reels and other archive films that documented the events between the death of Pope John XXIII and the election of Pope Paul VI in 1963 . Colorful and evocative cinematography by Erwin Hillier , filmed in Panavison . Rousing score by Alex North , though he reused the opening fanfare he wrote for 2001 (1968) but which had been rejected by Stanley Kubrick, as one of the main themes in his soundtrack . This epic point of view of a rise of an obstinate locked priest from a Siberian prison until Cardinal and Pope was well directed directed by Michael Anderson though emerge some flaws , being alternately compelling and uneven .
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