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Pope Joan (1972)

PG | | Drama, History | 25 October 1972 (UK)
In medieval Europe, a pious young woman becomes a scholar of theology, disguises herself as a man, rises through the Catholic Church hierarchy and is elected Pope.

Director:

Michael Anderson

Writer:

John Briley (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Liv Ullmann ... Pope Joan
Jeremy Kemp ... Joan's Father
Natasa Nicolescu Natasa Nicolescu ... Joan's Mother
Sharon Winter Sharon Winter ... Joan as a child
Margareta Pogonat Margareta Pogonat ... Village woman
Richard Bebb Richard Bebb ... Lord of Manor
Peter Arne ... Richard
Patrick Magee ... Elder monk
George Innes ... Monk
Nigel Havers ... Young monk
Lesley-Anne Down ... Cecilia
Susan Macready Susan Macready ... Sister Nunciata
Shelagh Wilcocks Shelagh Wilcocks ... Sister Louise
Olivia de Havilland ... Mother Superior
André Morell ... Emperor Louis
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Storyline

This movie is based on the medieval legend of Pope Joan, who was made Pope for a brief period around 855 A.D. Although it is questionable that Pope Joan really did exist, this movie presents her existence as fact, and portrays her relationships with other notables of the time. Written by edk <laplaza@ccnet.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Heresy ... or history ? See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 October 1972 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Devil's Imposter See more »

Filming Locations:

Brasov, Romania See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original plan was to shoot on location in Italy but this proved too expensive so the film was made at Bray Studios outside London, home to the Hammer horror movies. Some location work was done in Romania and Cyprus. Shooting in Romania proved to be rather difficult, given that there was hardly anything of a native film industry and also because the country was very tightly controlled by the Communist regime. See more »

Alternate Versions

The 2009 cut includes the 20th century scenes but omits 20 minutes of scenes with Joan being Pope. See more »

Connections

Version of Pope Joan (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Tu es Petrus
Sung by The Sistine Chapel Choir
Under the Direction of Domenico Bartolucci
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Don't moan at Joan, moan at the post production
14 January 2008 | by michael-1151See all my reviews

The early 1970's was my favourite period in recent cinema history, classics such as Kubrick's Clockwork Orange, Skolimowsky's Deep End and Visconti's Death in Venice abound; but there are some, less than ringing endorsements of the era, this half-forgotten movie being one.

Liv Ullman, the embodiment of Scandinavian sang-froid, the epitome of ephemeral solemnity, plays Joan, a pious and youthful nun, who travels from a medieval convent, burnt down by Saxons, raping and pillaging, as if they misconstrued it for a set on a Ken Russell film, to Rome where disguised as a (rather attractive) young man, she wins her spurs, becomes a cardinal and eventually the first - and possibly last - female pope.

The trouble is, although Liv's performance is full of meaning and her fights against the alleged sin of lust, particularly enthralling, the editing, jumpiness and preposterousness of some scenes, leave an anxious viewer in need of redemption elsewhere.

True, it is interesting to see actors of the time - Lesley Anne Down, Maximillian Schell, Trevor Howard and Olivia de Havilland - giving robust performances, but a sandwich with an attractive filling is hardly worth eating if the bread is stale. And this is a stale mish mash, which ultimately fails to satisfy. It is a shame. The theme is interesting, whether the story is true or not. Given the current arguments amongst many religions on the role of women, it has significance for us in the 21st Century.

The scenery around Brasov, Romania, where it was filmed, which I visited post Ceausescu, is exemplary. Mind you, maybe the reason for the film's disjointed nature is just that - that the dictator, in his first flush of dictatorial youth, was in charge of production. There again, maybe Ceausescu was a woman. Now that would be a tale worth telling...


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