Sunday, May 26, 2024

Shoes of the Fisherman (1968)

Soviet political prisoner is released to the Vatican. Through rapid moving events he ends up becoming Pope and having to deal with a potential nuclear war between the Soviet Union and China.

This is surprisingly moving film. Frankly until the very end when the film kind of ends on a whimper, this is a solid exploration of the battle between the old belief and the modern world. How do we take the core beliefs of our faith and make them relevant. I am not always sure it works but I find the discussion utterly fascinating.

Anthony Quinn is stellar as Pop Kiril a world weary man who doesn't want the job he was given. He has seen too much of the world and he just wants to minister to the sick. You can see his pain in his every move and in his eyes.

Equally good is Oskar Werner as a priest who befriends the Pope and becomes his guide, both in life and philosophically as to what has to be done.

I am curious as to how long the original cut of this film was. There is a sense of so many characters being more important than they are that I sense that there must have been a much longer cut.

If there is any real problem with the film, aside from the very end which doesn't quite work, it is the the David Jansen character. He is a news reporter who figures tangentially into to the events of the film, but really exists simply to give exposition and explanation.  It's deadly and while watching the film on DVD I ended up scanning through any scene he appeared in.

Other than some minor burps I truly loved this film. It moved me. It made me consider a great deal on many different levels. Yes it is very much a product of it's time, but it is also film that largely holds up. Highly recommended.

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