The Two Popes (2019)
Pope Benedict: I cannot feel the presence of God. I do not hear His voice, do you understand me?
My sister, Anne, recommended that I watch this film. Being PKs, we know only too well that members of the clergy have lots of self-doubt about their calling. To see two eminent members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy confessing their sins to each other, and receiving absolution from (and through) the other was quite moving.
That said, I have a small criticism of the film: the subtitles, of which there are many, were sometimes too quickly shown (almost ‘blink and miss it’) at times. Fortunately, I have an ear for Romance languages so I could grasp what was being said even when I had no visual (written) clues.
I was well aware that I was watching actors playing the roles of two of the most famous men in recent history, but I felt they captured the visual impressions perfectly. The emotional ones would have been their own interpretation of the characters. And yet, the essence of each man was accurately portrayed. So that was nice.
The old guard (Pope Benedict XVI) was known as the Rottweiler for his strict observance of the Papacy. The new boy (Pope Francis) was all for modernizing the church. This was a clash of the titans. Their individuality (as always) put a clear defining line between them.
Pope Benedict: [playing the piano] You know, the, um… this album was recorded in a famous studio in London. I was told, uh, I should be very honored because the Beatles had been there. Do you know the Beatles?
Pope Francis: Yes, I know who they are.
Pope Benedict: Of course you do.
Pope Francis: ‘Eleanor Rigby!’
Pope Benedict: Who?
Pope Francis: ‘Eleanor Rigby.’
Pope Benedict: I don’t know her.
“An intimate story of one of the most dramatic transitions of power in the last 2,000 years. Frustrated with the direction of the church, Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) requests permission to retire in 2012 from Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins). Instead, facing scandal and self-doubt, the introspective Pope Benedict summons his harshest critic and future successor to Rome to reveal a secret that would shake the foundations of the Catholic Church. Behind Vatican walls, a struggle commences between both tradition and progress, guilt and forgiveness, as these two very different men confront their pasts in order to find common ground and forge a future for a billion followers around the world. Inspired by true events.” Written by Netflix
“The Carnival is Over”
There is a repeated statement in the film which was a clue to what would come: Francis heard God say to repair his Church; he thought God meant the building. Ha.
Pope Francis: [addressing a crowd in Villa 21 Buenos Aires] Once, a young man was walking in the woods. His name was Francesco Bernardone. Suddenly, he found a chapel – ruined, with the walls destroyed. He stepped inside. A crucifix was still there, where the altar had been. Francesco felt captivated. The crucifix spoke to him and said, ‘Francesco, repair my Church.’ Francesco was a practical man. He went up to the quarry on Mount Subasio, cut stones, carted them down the mountain, and repaired the broken walls. Any journey, no matter how long, has to start somewhere. Any journey, no matter how glorious, can start with a mistake. So, when you feel lost, don’t worry. God will not give up.