January 11, 2007
I just finished watching this movie about John Paul II's life. Thank you Kelly! This was the perfect present for me. You were right it is a very good movie and I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about JP II's early life and how he came to be elected as a Pope.
The movie starts when Karol Wojtyla is a university student. He is athletic, popular and fun and he even has a girlfriend. Not much detail is given about his early spiritual life and formation (something I would have liked to see more of) other than suggesting that he had a great love of reading. In addition to reading a lot, he wrote and acted in a small theatre group.
The political situation in Poland at that time (beginning of WW II up to the 70's) is portrayed in detail. First the Nazi occupation followed immediately by the arrival of the Communists. Karol is portrayed as a courageous and also tactful professor/priest, later bishop who somehow manages to form generations of students and faithful to "have no fear" and not let themselves be subjugated by the evil regimes, yet remains so tactful that he is respected by the "evil ones" themselves. He has this strong belief that "evil devours itself" a quote I will remember for a long time.
If you ask me, the way he is portrayed in this movie makes him look like someone bordering liberalism through a little too much tact. He is sometimes made to look like "the cool guy".
The relationship between himself and the girlfriend he has to give up in order to become a priest, is presented in a very romantic and syrupy way (but I like romantic and syrupy!). There are many little subplots and stories, all very interesting, some that really happened, some partially real and some completely made up by the film producers (it's a movie after all).
I love the fact that it is a long movie (3 hour miniseries made for TV), I like the actor who plays JP II and in fact most actors do a great job.
An interesting detail is that most of the actors are Polish (some are Italian, German etc) yet they all speak in English.
And one more thing. Apparently, John Paul II actually saw this movie before he died and he liked it, as did the new Pope Benedict...Bottom line: Great Catholic movie, highly recommended!