Friday, May 18, 2018

“Pope Francis: A Man Of His Word” – Movie Review


This week, I attended a sneak preview of the new documentary by Wim Wenders, “Pope Francis:  A Man Of His Word


The Pope discusses his philosophy, including views on life, death and the ecology.


In a series of speeches, news videos and statements made directly to the camera, Pope Francis shares his opinions on a wide variety of topics – not all of which are necessarily religious or directly about Catholicism.  For example, one of The Pope’s favorite topics is the environment, which is something the church had tended to avoid prior to Francis.  He believes that defiling the planet is a sin against God because humans are systematically destroying His greatest creation.  Therefore, it is the duty of all its inhabitants to take care of the planet as a way of honoring The Creator.

When it comes to the economy, The Pope believes that there is great financial inequality in the world and that 80% of the wealth goes to about 20% of the people.  He says that we can all do with a little bit less in life and if we do, then there will be a little bit more for those less fortunate than we are.  Speaking of inequality, there is also the issue of gender bias.  The pontiff feels that women should be given greater roles in society and that their voice should be heard more.  As things stand right now, the men in society control far more than their fair share. 

As far as life is concerned, Pope Francis is of the opinion that you can’t consider life without considering death.  He thinks that most people don’t want to think about their own demise because it is too unpleasant; we must reconcile ourselves with death because with each passing day, we are all dying a little bit.  But don’t be so obsessed with it that you can’t allow yourself to enjoy life.  You should have fun, be playful and most importantly, try to find reasons to smile.  If you don’t look for opportunities to laugh and smile, then you’re missing out on what life is all about.


The more you pay attention to the content of what Pope Francis says, the more he sounds like the Catholic version of Bernie Sanders.  Does this mean we have a Socialist Pope on our hands?  Perhaps.  But nevertheless, his views – which some have felt controversial – are what have contributed to his extraordinary popularity with young people.  For those who may be looking for a biography of His Holiness, this is not that movie; if, on the other hand, you are looking for a film where The Pope endlessly pontificates (you caught that pun, right?), then “A Man Of His Word” is for your. 

Admirers of Pope Francis will no doubt enjoy this movie because the pontiff in offered up in all of his glory.  On the other hand, if you’re considerably less of a fanboy when it comes to His Holiness, then you’ll have plenty to gripe about.  This documentary comes across almost as if it were an infomercial – not for Catholicism in general, but for this Pope in particular.  Does the phrase “preaching to the converted” come to mind?  The basic problem here is that the Pope is essentially giving an hour and a half monolog where he’s never questioned or challenged – which arguably would’ve made this a considerably better film. 

Following the screening, there was an interview with the documentary’s director Wim Wenders.  Wenders explained that he initially got involved with the project when he received a letter from The Vatican which outlined the idea of the film and inquired as to his interest.  He wound up meeting with The Pope four times, each session lasting two hours, just to see if they could get along and also to make sure their idea of the movie was reasonably close.  The Vatican pretty much gave him a free hand to do whatever he wanted with the motion picture, never insisting on final cut or having a say in the content. 

Pope Francis: A Man of His Word (2018) on IMDb

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