"Pope Francis - A Man of His Word" is intended to be a personal journey with Pope Francis, rather than a biographical documentary about him. The pope's ideas and his message are central to this documentary, which sets out to present his work of reform and his answers to today's global questions.
Beautiful and challenging call to take the gospel seriously in our world today
A true work of art and the best documentary I've seen at the theater in at least 12 years, "Pope Francis: A Man of His Word" takes a beguiling approach: Rather than being a film about Pope Francis, it is a document of the problems in our world today and a presentation of the pope's message in response to it. This is not hagiography either in the sense of being "pro-Francis," "anti-Francis," or anything about Francis at all. It is a film that allows him to present his message in candid interviews where he looks directly into our eyes, challenging us to take his words seriously as we also accompany him on his journeys to places that nobody else wants to go.
Wim Wenders, the award-winning German New Wave director, brings real artistry to this work. He is clearly an artist first and a Christian (no longer identifying with any particular church) second. Wenders spent two years interviewing Pope Francis over four sessions with a camera that allowed the pontiff to speak directly into the camera. He used a hand-cranked camera from 1920 to present footage of the life of St. Francis of Assisi, suggesting that the message of Pope Francis is the message of St. Francis, i.e. the message of the gospels and of Jesus Christ.
There is deep compassion for our struggling humanity in this movie. Wenders presents the global problems of our day and simply holds up the response of Pope Francis toward it, inviting viewers to accept or reject the actual message of the man rather than make ad hominem arguments for or against his person. It's a refreshing approach that's quite different from many biographies of public figures, as Wenders allows Francis to be humble enough to make his message about God's response to the sufferings of this world rather than about him personally. I have never seen a documentary quite like this one before and I believe it's in the top five of all the documentaries I've ever seen. It's so simple, so true, so pure, and yet also so challenging to our (and my own) complacency about accepting injustice in the world. Rather than quibble with the pope's response to the issues of our day, the movie simply shows his response and invites me to ask myself: What am I doing about it? What can I do? The revolutionary values of the gospels shine through all possible encrustations in this movie that may be one of the best religious films I've seen in a very long time.
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