"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.
"Pope Francis: A Man of His Word" (2018 release; 95 min.) is a documentary about Pope Francis. As the movie opens, we are introduced to the thinking of St. Francis of Assisi, an Italian friar active in the late 12th/early 13th century. We then shift to "Buenos Aires, 1999" as the then-Archbishop addresses a crowd, and just as quickly we move to "St. Peter's Square, 2013", when the conclave elects Pope Francis. We are reminded that the pope is the first to take Francis as his papal name (to honor St. Francis of Assisi), the first pope from the Americas and the southern hemisphere, and the first Jesuit pope. We then settle in to hear from Pope Francis. "Listen a lot, and speak just enough" seems to be the Pope's M.O. At this point we are 10 min. into the movie.
Couple of comments: this is the latest documentary from celebrated German documentarian Wim Wenders. Here he gets all-access to the Pope (and indeed the movie was made with full cooperation of the Vatican). Please note that this is NOT a biography of the Pope. In fact, we learn nothing about his background, other than being an Archbishop in Buenos Aires in the late 90s. As it turns out, the movie plays mostly as a private one-on-one discussion, one could even say, sermon by the Pope on a wide variety of topics, including poverty, social justice, the 'culture of waste', empathy towards others, our limited time on this earth, etc., but also some touchy ones such as the sex scandals that have plagued the Catholic church for decades now, and his position on gays and lesbians (by coincidence, today's headline-making news that the Pope tells a gay person "God made you like that and loves you like that" is not a new development and merely affirms what the Pope says in this documentary). Interestingly, the Pope also emphasizes the importance of a smile and a sense of humor (the Pope confesses that each day after his morning prayer, he reads Sir Thomas More's "Prayer For Good Humor"). Please note that you do NOT have to be a Catholic to come away from this film with something meaningful. To me, Pope Francis is a symbol of humility and HOPE. "The future has a name, and it is Hope", the Pope reminds us. Yes, Pope Francis may be a man of his word, but even more, he is a man of action, and in that sense, his life itself is a sermon.
"Pope Francis - A Man of His Word" opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended very nicely (mostly seniors I might add). When the Pope talks directly into the camera (which is most of the time), it feels like he addresses you, and hence not surprisingly, one could hear a pin drop on the theater during much of the movie. If you have any interest in Pope Francis, you can count your blessings with this outstanding documentary. "Pope Francis - A Man of His Word" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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