Comes now a voice of sanity and reason.
Comes now a movie about a man renowned for his passionate advocacy on behalf of the poor, the sick, the displaced and the oppressed. A man whose plain-spoken eloquence is an inspiration to millions.
Comes now “Pope Francis — A Man of His Word.”
Germany’s Wim Wenders — the director of such singular features as “Paris, Texas” and “Wings of Desire” and the Oscar-nominated documentaries “Buena Vista Social Club” and “Pina” — in 2013 was granted unprecedented access to the pontiff to make this, his latest film.
Over the course of two years, Wenders interviewed Pope Francis four times at the Vatican. He also was given access to the Vatican’s vast archive of footage shot of the pontiff since Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio ascended to the papacy in 2013. Wenders incorporated footage from both sources to craft a documentary that is at once dynamic and intimate.
It follows the pope to the slums of Rio de Janeiro, to a refugee camp in Greece, to Ground Zero in Manhattan, to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in Jerusalem, to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines and to Auschwitz, among many other places around the world. Virtually everywhere he goes crowds, both respectful and adoring, line roads, pack plazas and surround him.
Interspersed throughout are the interview segments. Shot with a special camera rig called an Interrotron, they present the pope head-on, giving the sense he’s having a conversation with the audience.
His manner is thoughtful yet warm. His words are precise yet simple. A sense of serenity comes through but with that a determination to change minds and behavior through the power of those words.
He speaks passionately of the need to protect the environment, of “Mother Earth who sustains us.”
“We have plundered Mother Earth,” he says, and that must change.
“Poverty today is an outrage,” he declares, “a scandal,” and most scandalous of all is that 20 percent of the Earth’s population possesses 80 percent of its wealth.
Visiting refugee camps and viewing footage of a refugee-clogged boat capsizing and sending its panic-stricken human cargo into the water, prompts him to say, in an address to a joint session of Congress, "We are facing a refugee crisis not seen since the Second World War.”
“We cannot,” he says, “remain indifferent.”
“Closing borders,” he says at another point, “solves nothing.” And “building walls is not a solution.”
He inveighs against the arms trade. Money from weapons sales is “drenched in blood,” a sentiment that draws tepid applause from the members of Congress.
The movie is no warts-and-all look at Francis’ papacy, but rather it emphasizes his humanity and humility.
Those personal qualities and his words are sources of hope in this politically fraught and fevered age.
Pope Francis — A Man of His Word
☆☆☆stars out of 4
Cast: Pope Francis
Running time: 1:36
Rated: PG. Thematic material including images of suffering