20 user 43 critic

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.



(novel), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Johanna von Ingelheim
... Gerold
... Pope Sergius
... Village Priest
... Aesculapius
... Anastasius
Lotte Flack ... Johanna von Ingelheim - Age 10-14
Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof ... Pope Joan - age 6-9 (as Tigerlily Hutchinson)
... Joan's mother
... Arsenius
... Arighis
... Bishop Arnaldo
... Eusthasius
... Paschal
... Jordanes


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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


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Release Date:

22 October 2009 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Pope Joan  »


Box Office


€22,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$27,412,220, 8 June 2010
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Did You Know?


Franka Potente was set to play the title character but had to leave due to scheduling conflicts shortly before filming began. See more »


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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Version of Pope Joan (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

Preachy, Pretentious, & Pathetic "Pope Joan"
19 June 2012 | by See all my reviews

"Pope Joan" is a movie with a message, or rather an agenda, and it shoves it down the throats of the audience with the subtlety of a jackhammer. This piece of dreck will surely insult the intelligence of anyone with a 9th-grade education or higher.

In a pathetic attempt to give the script a pseudo-intellectual tone, the writers lifted selections from Western Philosophy 101, the New International Version, Introduction to Feminism, and 19th Century anti-Catholic propaganda and recycled it in the form of pretentious dialogue; "I think, therefore God exists?!" Misquoting Renee Descartes and adding a little bit of the Ontological Argument doesn't make laughably bad lines like "I think, therefore God exists" actually logical. If the writers wanted to give the audience a lesson in philosophy and Church History, they could have skipped this piece of historically inaccurate fiction and made a film about St. Anselm of Canterbury (but that would have been a snooze). When reading about the woman who wrote the book on which this film is based, it turns out that "Pope Joan" is her only novel; the rest of her publications are self-help books. Go figure.

In a pathetic attempt to convince us that the mission of the Catholic Church is to keep knowledge, love, and responsibility away from women, this film insults the real women of the early Catholic Church who paved the way for female dignity. Those women were called nuns. From the time that St. Scholastica founded the first women's monastery in the 6th Century up until the present, Catholic nuns have managed the business affairs of their self-sufficient communities, dedicated themselves to learning and knowledge, composed music, and written scholarly works unsurpassed by men. They fought off invaders, risked their lives to found new communities in foreign countries, stood up to Popes and kings, refused to be used as pawns in arranged marriages, and were disowned by their families all for the sake of becoming closer to God through prayer, knowledge, and love. They did all of this without having to deceive themselves and others by denying their womanhood or hopping in bed with some man, unlike the title character of this movie. At least the film mentions St. Catherine of Alexandria, and there are hundreds more women Saints whose stories are equally gripping: Hildegarde von Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Clare of Assisi, Agnes of Prague, Colette of Corbie, Teresa of Avila, Elisabeth of Hungary, just to name a few. Read the letters or autobiographies of many of these women (you'd never guess from "Pope Joan," but yes, medieval Catholic women did in fact know how to write!) rather than watching a movie; most films about the Saints are sugar-coated and poorly acted.

That being said, even the corniest Saint movies aired on EWTN are better than the cardboard acting in "Pope Joan."

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