The upcoming film, “Pope Francis: A Man of his Word,” has won praise from Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, who applauded the movie’s compelling portrayal of the Holy Father.
The director “weaves an on-going, intimate, one-on-one interview with the pope throughout the film. It’s a hugely effective technique; one has a sense that Francis is looking directly at, speaking directly to, the individual viewer,” the archbishop wrote in a May 14 column.
The hour-and-a-half documentary offers an intimate look at the pope’s travels, acts of charity, and speeches. It shows the pope’s response to social issues around the world, including immigration and the value of family life.
Distributed by Focus Features, the movie will be released in select theaters on May 18. Archbishop Chaput reviewed the film at an early screening. Additionally, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago hosted a screening and discussion on May 14.
The film is co-written and directed by German filmmaker Wim Wenders. Nominated for three Academy Awards, Wenders’ previous films include “Wings of Desire,” “Buena Vista Social Club,” and “Salt of the Earth.”
The director’s work is largely “marked by a Christian-inspired spirituality,” Archbishop Chaput said, pointing to filmmaker’s Catholic upbringing.
“He focuses compellingly on the pope’s concern for the environment, the poor, and immigrants. He also captures the pope’s vigorous commitment to marriage, the family, and the complementarity of men and women.”
Among the most powerful scenes, Archbishop Chaput said, are the pope’s visits to “immigrants, the poor, the sick, the Shoah memorial Yad Vashem in Israel, and the Western Wall in Jerusalem.”
The archbishop did critique the film on a few points, saying the movie felt too lengthy and did not fully portray Catholic teachings on the human person.
“Wenders also misses (or avoids) the opportunity to present the holistic Catholic vision of human dignity that Francis serves, i.e., the reason why Catholic concerns for the unborn child, the disabled, the elderly, the environment, and the immigrant are inextricably linked in a network of priorities.”
Additionally, he said the film was incomplete in its portrayal of Saint Francis of Assisi, who inspired Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to take on the name of Pope Francis.
“Its portrait of Francis of Assisi, while useful to the narrative, is selective and only lightly acquainted with the real saint, who was a complex and formidable man concerned for Creation as a reflection of God’s glory, not as a limited natural resource.”
However, Archbishop Chaput said, they flaws do not detract from the beauty and substance of the film. He encouraged Catholics to support “Pope Francis: A Man of his Word,” coming to theaters this Friday.
“Wenders and Focus Features (and the Holy Father himself) deserve our gratitude for offering the world such an exceptional encounter with the Successor of Peter. May it touch thousands of hearts.”