In “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word,” the pope speaks from the heart on his deepest concerns, looking directly into the camera. Cindy Coleman has your Catholic family movie review, including the official trailer and links to additional reviews.
by Cindy Coleman
So often, the way we hear Pope Francis’ words is limited to sound bites and headlines. Many times these come from the secular media that intentionally or unintentionally get the context wrong, missing the pope’s real message.
The film “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word” (Focus) is a chance to hear Pope Francis’ words in context and at length. Gorgeous images are combined with public speeches given by Pope Francis, documentary footage and extensive interview footage unique to this film.
Filmmaker Wim Wenders interviewed Pope Francis at length four times over two years to produce the movie. Pope Francis speaks from the heart on the concerns that are closest to his heart—the poor, families, immigrants, the environment, and peace. Wenders used a particular technique to film the interviews so that Pope Francis spoke directly to the camera. It is incredibly effective in making your feel as if he is speaking directly to you.
The primary theme of this film is dialogue—Pope Francis in dialogue with the world, not only in his speeches and the interviews, but in his listening to the ordinary people he is shown encountering throughout.
The film was both sweeping in scope and personal. Scenes of Pope Francis during numerous trips around the world included speaking to the residents of a favela (slum) in Rio de Janiero, blessing desperately sick children and babies in a hospital in the Central African Republic, celebrating Mass in the midst of a downpour after Typhoon Hayan in the Philippines to addressing the U.S. Congress and United Nations. Truly Pope Francis is bringing his words in person to our troubled, complex world. But while he was often shown addressing large crowds or in a visually lively montage of his popemobile zipping through a variety of streets throughout many cities of the world—his tenderness and personal concern on encountering individuals was incredibly moving. So moving, in fact, that several times I felt moved to tears.
In one scene Pope Francis is in a refuge center in Greece looking over the drawings the refugee children have made for him. His love and connection to these children is so beautiful. In so many scenes, whether it was with the sick, those in wheel chairs, prisoners in jails, refugees or the victims of Typhoon Hayan, his tenderness as he embraced these people or touched them to bless them was heart-wrenching.
The framework for the film is St. Francis of Assisi using stories of this Francis as a foil for Pope Francis. The saintly Francis is introduced in the opening scene in a longview of the landscape of Assisi. Sections of a black and white “movie within a movie” relate key moments in St. Francis’ life, the first being the well-known vision of Christ at San Damiano asking St. Francis to “restore my church.” St. Francis comes back again in clips on his love of nature, another scene about his intercession with the sultan of Egypt to stop the Crusades and at the close of the movie with the celebration of the 2016 World Day of Prayer for Peace at Assisi. Each of these vignettes with St. Francis is tied to the issues about which Pope Francis speaks.
Should I Take My Kids to See the Movie?
There are some graphic scenes of real-world suffering including extreme poverty, seriously sick children and the Holocaust that may be disturbing. I would not recommend the movie for anyone younger than a tween. Also, most of Pope Francis words are in Spanish or Italian and translated via subtitles. A viewer would need a reading level capable of reading the vocabulary of the subtitles and with sufficient speed.
“Pope Francis: A Man of His Word” is playing in select theaters around the country. To find out where you can see the movie, click here.
Cindy Coleman is a second-grade catechist and VBS leader at both her home parish of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, Montgomeryville, Pa., and at St. Jude Parish in Chalfont, Pa. She is passionate about sharing our Catholic faith with children and their families. She also is co-coordinator of her parish’s Liturgy of the World with Children. Among her other parish activities, she is being trained as ReachMore group leader and leads the newly started WINE (Women in the New Evangelization) group. Cindy is married to Ron and the proud mother of Matthew, who recently graduated from the University of Notre Dame.