|The Shoes of the Fisherman
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Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 04/04/2006 Run time: 162 minutes Rating: G
If you find during the 160-minute running time of The Shoes of the Fisherman that you don't like the plot, wait 10 minutes. It will surely change and there will be another story thread to entice you. The screenplay is literally all over the map: Siberia, where Archbishop Kiril Lakota, played splendidly by Anthony Quinn, has been exiled to a work camp in the oppressive Soviet regime; Moscow, where a genially scene-chewing Laurence Olivier plays a Soviet ruler with history with Lakota; China, where famine threatens to bring the world of the late '60s to the brink of World War III; and Rome, where Lakota travels after being freed (and where dissolute reporter David Janssen does his best to groove on the Swinging Sixties). Yet despite its flaws, the movie's central drama is riveting: the current Pope dies suddenly, and for a good bit of the film, viewers are treated to the Vatican's inner workings on the election of a new Pope. The events unfold at a leisurely pace, which allows you to drink in the spectacle and wonder of the ancient traditions. The Alex North Oscar-nominated score is lovely, and Quinn's performance is the somber-with-a-humble-twinkle glue that holds the film together. Anyone interested in the traditions and rituals of the Vatican will find plenty to savor. --A.T. Hurley
- The Authenic Christian Revolution of a Russian Pope
This 1968 film, based on Morris West's novel, has Anthony Quinn as Kiril Lakota, released after twenty years in a Siberian work camp to become a Cardinal and then Pope at a time when the Soviet Union and a starving People's Republic of China are about to go to war. The idea that the first non-Italian pope in centuries would be from a Communist country certainly seems prophetic today. Lakota is released by the Soviet Premier (Laurence Olivier), who is taking a chance that a sympathetic Vatican might tip the balance towards peace. Lakota emerges from imprisonment as something of a saint, admired by the Elder Pope (John Gielgud) for having refused to deny the faith even when seven priests were brought before him and shot.
Although the obvious comparison is to John Paul II, Quinn's pontiff is actually more like John Paul I, who was considered a "pastoral" Pope, capable of relating to the people more on the level of a parish priest. When he is elected and has to change into his papal robes, he introduces himself to his new valet saying simply,"I am Kiril Lakota." The politically charged atmosphere is a bit melodramatic, but the strength of this film is in its portrait of the inner workings of the Vatican where both politics and personalities come into play. My favorite scene is when the college of Cardinals are deadlocked, repeated votes having been "insufficient for election," and one of the elder statesmen of the church stands up to declare his belief that God has sent them the man intended to be the next Pope. With growing horror, Lakota watches as the momentum builds for his stunning election (Now if somebody could just explain to me, when reporter David Janssen announces "They have elected a Russian Pope" is the word "Russia" an adjective or a noun in that sentence? This has been driving me crazy for other 30 years).
Of the two subplots the romantic estrangement of Dan Janssen, the reporter covering the Vatican and his doctor wife, Barbara Jefford, is trivial soap opera nonsense, although it does lead to a nice scene where the Pope sneaks out of the Vatican disguised as an ordinary priest. The doctor sends him to the pharmacy for medicine and is stunned when he returns and is able to do prayers in Hebrew over the dying man. The other, with Oskar Werner as Father David Telemond, is much more provocative and provides an interesting counter-point to the main story line. Telemond has written several books, none of them published, dealing with what he calls the "Cosmic Christ." A Pontifical Commission is investigating his writings as being heretical. Certainly there is a sense in which this film, in the wake of the Vatican II Council, was trying to confront the Catholic Church with certain issues. Ultimately "The Shoes of the Fisherman" is a much more subversive film than "The Last Temptation of Christ."
Quinn's dignified performance holds "The Shoes of the Fisherman" together, aided by Leo McKern and Vittorio De Sica as a pair of Cardinals seated high in the Church hierarchy. This is not a great film by any means, but it is certainly thoughtful even without the provocative final scene in which the new pope proposes to actually implement "the authentic Christian revolution: work for all, bread for all, dignity for all men." Certainly it treats it characters and its subject matter with great seriousness. Michael Anderson's direction is hampered by the film's 157 minute length, but it is still worth the viewing....more info
- One of a Kind
This is my favorite movie. It is truly unlike anything else ever filmed, in that it does an incredible job of showing a little of what the papacy is, and its burden on the man bearing it. Also, it shows the beauty of Christianity and the Catholic Church at its core, dispelling misconceptions of the character of what sometimes is seen as a monolithic entity. The movie also treats the subject matter with a respect for the Catholic church that is all but gone from the English-speaking media today. The movie does not preach, but rather simply opens a window onto events and people whom (under changed names and circumstances in the movie) helped shape the last 30-40 years of world history.
I believe this movie can be positively entertaining and informative for anyone, whether Catholic or not. ...more info
- A Movie Every Religious Person Should See
This movie was great and I am not a Catholic, I am a Protestant minister. Even though this was just a novel and pure fiction, I learned more about the inner workings of the Catholic Church than I had ever learned from my years of reading about all the "Bad Things" in the history of the Catholic Church. Protestant history, and no other religion's history is "pure white" either. I'm talking about such things and the Inquisition burnings at the stake, and other hedious torture methods that only a feind from hell could think of.
See this movie, meditate on it, and realize the horrendous impack all religions have on Planet Earth for both good and bad. It has been said that if you know only one religion, you really don't know much about any religion--- I agree!
See the struggle in the Church to know God, to understand God's will, to choose its leaders, to be loyal to its leaders, to reach conclusion about all moral, ethical, and social questions. All religions go thru this same process to one degree or another, even your local church. Compare your Minister and the problems in your Church to the the problems of the Pope and the Catholic Church. They are not really all that different. We all have a duty and a tremendous responsibility resting on our shoulders.. We must try to understand each other, love one another, forgive one another, pray for each other, and work together in every way possible......
.....If we will do this then we can help Planet Earth and its people take a "Quantum Leap" up and forward in spiritual consciousness and awareness - where The Word(or Love) becomes Flesh in us - which will usher in a New Day, a New Level of the Kingdom Of God On Earth, that is beyond words to describe. Planet Earth People, are you with me, will you join me in this glorious effort? We all have a Divine Mission and Destiny to fulfill while on Planet Earth. Ken Pamplin, 4504 N.W. 11th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73127...more info
- Interesting Insights
Great movie. Two of the main characters appear to be based upon two prominent church figures of the early sixties. Bishop Lakota closely resembles Ukrainian Cardinal Joseph Slipyj who spent 18 years in Siberia & was freed 1 yr after the book was originally written...like Lakota, he viewed his freedom as being exiled. Muller's character closely resembles the theologian/scientist Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, who had some rather off-the-wall views. ...more info
- The Shoes of the Fisherman DVD
This was a DVD purchaed for my Fther-in-Law. He wanted to see this movie and we got it for him. He wanted the DVD version, and I am glad you had it available. I ordered it just in time for Father's Day. It cam the day before, just in time.
Very good....more info
- Excellent....so when will it be on DVD???
This is one of my favorite films. Hierarchy in the Roman Catholic Church have noted that the conclave for the new pope, as shown in this movie, is as close to the real pomp and politics as they have ever seen. The only set-back in this film, is the odd side-story of the crumbling Faber marriage, although it does lend itself to an interesting interchange between the newly elected Pope (Anthony Quinn) and the disillusioned Mrs. Faber. Music = great! Costumes and scenery = great! I recommend ONLY purchasing the widescreen edition of this film. Hopefully it won't be long until this film is spruced up and put onto DVD!...more info
- THE SHOES OF THE FISHERMAN
I have enjoyed thie film since it's release in 1968. Afterwards, I read not only this book but others by Morris L. West. I understand the need of Hollywood in the '60s to create a "movie" and adding non-dramatic story subplots. I also remember seeing this with audiences at the time of release, and their absolute fascination with the process of electing a pope as well as the "inquiry" in Father Telemond's beliefs. We all thought that this was the film's true power, not whether David Janssen would go back to his wife (why would she take him back, anyway?). In the novel, Telemond is a much older French priest, about Pope Kiril's age. West uses this character (and the print news reporter George Faber) to explore his own strong feelings about the Catholic Church. If the film would have stuck to that theme, instead of trying to be a blockbuster (which it nearly was), it might have wound up as a "must see" in film history. You can skip forward through certain parts of the film and still enjoy its overall impact....more info
- One of my favorites
The Shoes of the Fisherman Anthony Quinn has been in a lot of movies but, for me, I would have to say this is one of my favorites, and a must see, even if you are not Catholic. One of his other really good ones has to be 'The Secret of Santa Vittoria'....more info
- movie review
This is an excellent movie. Fans of Anthony Quinn will thoroughly enjoy it. I saw the movie twenty some odd years ago, and was delighted to see it for sale on Amazon. I bought a new copy. it was delivered quickly and in excellent condition. I recommend this movie to anyone interested in the papacy, or anyone who enjoys Quinn's films....more info
- First-rate presentation of a classic
Not much I can add to the many reviews here already. It's a very good movie, superbly acted and directed. If some of the plot elements seem a bit forced, hang in there -- they bring it all together before the end.
A few notes for the technically inclined:
The disc contains all of the original "roadshow" elements, including the overture, intermission and entre' act music.
The anamorphic picture preserves the full 2.4:1 aspect ratio of the original 35mm Panavision negative. Image quality is exceptionally clean, with terrific color and fine detail. (All the fancy Vatican costumes make this one of the "reddest" films ever released.) Scratches and dust marks have been meticulously removed.
The big surprise is the soundtrack, which is in full stereophonic sound! Apparently they tracked down the stereo mix used in first-run theaters for this DVD release. All of the music is in wide, dramatic stereo, and there are a number of sequences with directional sound effects. Dialog is mostly monaural, typical of films from this period.
A superior presentation of a fascinating film.
- Good lesson on having faith
Great story about searching for one's personal faith and connection to God in a vastly difficult world. Great lesson on graciously remaining strong in your faith, while still respecting others' faiths and beliefs, and learning how to work together to help others in need....more info
- The Shoes of the Fisherman
A movie with a strong message for those in power that dont play politics but rather do some good for the world. Anthony Quinn was perfect in the role. A very entertaining movie from start to finish. Something I'll be watching again and again over the years...more info
- Shoes of the Fisherman
Excellent acting by all and a very good message on charity. It speaks to these times also....more info
- If the shoe fits...
This movie is remarkable, all the moreso because of the the amount of inadvertent prophecy that takes place during the course of it. Shoes of the Fisherman is a phrase that is sometimes used to refer to the office of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome; the See of Peter, the Chair of Peter, etc., various other historical and scriptural references are a kind of ecclesial shorthand.
This story takes place during the height of the Cold War, when it was not primarily a two-way confrontation, but rather seemed to threaten to become a three-way contest with the seeming emergence of China as a communist power independent from the Soviet Union.
Archbishop Kyril (Anthony Quinn), longtime political prisoner of the Soviets, is released (the exact reasoning for this we are never told) by his long-time captor (the Soviet premier, played by Laurence Olivier). He is released to Rome, where he is installed as a cardinal for his faithfulness to the church. Shortly thereafter, the pope (John Gielgud, who is on screen for only a few minutes) dies, and an election takes place. Remarkably, Kyril the Russian is elected pope, after giving a moving account of his time in captivity to assembled cardinals weary of the election process, and shortly thereafter commits the church to a risky mercy mission to prevent war from breaking out between the communist powers.
Subplots include a very timid (by today's standards) love triangle by a reporter, his wife and his soon-to-be ex-mistress, and an ecclesiastical tribunal examining the works of a radical theologian.
This movie had unprecedented vantage of the Vatican for showing the process of a pope's death and succession. The small historical niceties are shown and explained throughout the film. One gets a sense of the procedure and the history.
What makes this movie so remarkable is that it was released a full decade before the election of another pope from the communist block. In 1968 it was considered very shocking to consider a non-Italian pope, much less one coming from behind the Iron Curtain.
Another prophetic instance is in the ecclesiastical trial of the radical theologian -- during his defense, this theologian even uses the words 'cosmic Christ', and recounts a theological formulation very similar to that which later found expression through Matthew Fox (who used the phrase 'cosmic Christ' in one of his book titles), who was silenced by his Roman order, and who finally had to leave the church to remain true to his convictions.
Just how the scriptwriters and director could have foreseen these so far in advance is a mystery.
The film is beautiful, well-acted, a bit long in parts, moving in others (the scene where Kyril, during an 'escape' from the Vatican comes across a dying Jewish man and begins to recite Jewish prayers is one of the more moving scenes theologically of any film), and gives a glimpse into a usually hidden, and largely unchanging world....more info
- don't bother
I give this movie one star because I like some of the actors, but the story is unrealistic. Communist China is in a bind because it can't feed its people so they threaten war. Well its they're own fault, the communist system always leaves people in misery. So to prevent a nuclear holocost the pope makes an act of public charity by selling his tiara for the cause of China's misery, a start of the charity that should be shown towards China by the whole world to prevent war. Stupid movie!...more info
- Premonitory film
As Pope John Paul II is slowly going to his end after a most extraordinary papacy, this film has always been for me a premonition. Premonition of an eastern european pope, premonition that such a pope would change the world (whether from starving or bringing down the Berlin wall), premonition of his humanity and love for the small and meek.
Wonderful acting in all compartments (just think of when the pope "escapes" the Vatican to go and see Rome and watch how the families live (Angelo, ma dov'¨¨ Angelo); the absolution given to a jewish man). All the openess and greatnest of John Paul II is in this film.
I am amazed that Quinn did not get an oscar. Finaly the music is stupendous. A truly underated film which, one day, will come to be better known....more info
- PERHAPS A MOVIE FOR OUR DAY AS WELL!!
The story begins with Ukranian Archbishop Lakota (Quinn) being released after being a political prisoner for 20 years in a Siberian prison camp. He is sent to Rome to be an adviser to the Vatican on Russian & Eastern European affairs. The pope dies unexpectedly and they must go through the process of selecting a new one. Who will be the new Pope? Who can best lead the church through this perilous time known as the 'Cold War'? Once the Pope is elected a nuclear crisis of potential world wide proportions breaks out and can the person who walks in the steps of the fisherman from Galilee rise to the occasion? The scenes from Rome are actually in the Vatican and give you a real feeling of being there as it happens. Fascinating look at the inner workings of the Roman Catholic church and how much political influence it has in the world. WWW.LUSREVIEWS.BLOGSPOT.COM
- Shoes of the Fisherman
I purchased this product for a friend who lives in the USA - both of us love the film - unfortunately it is not available to purchase on DVD in the UK - but I have a home recording which I watch until it is. So if you can do anything to get the manufacturers to make it available for UK viewers - I would be extremely happy! Meantime I just hope my video doesn't give up on me!! The film is fantastic and well worth watching....more info
- Good film, but,,,
Quinn is a truly great actor. There was no way he was going to put in a substandard performance. The directing, pace, script, etc.; all first rate. And there were moments that were truly inspiring.
The only problem was the end. There is no way that a political power structure would willingly abandon its power for the sake of charity. It would never happen. The idea of the pope enacting and embodying Christian charity at the expense of the Church's existence is too idealistic to be believable....more info
- Inspirational for all people
I found this movie to be a great inspiration. As a Catholic, I see this charactor to be an ideally humble man and what a Pope should be... willing to give up all earthly things for a greater purpose. I know that any people non-Catholic and even non-Christian would find this movie to be inspirational and useful for learning good values and achieving a higher moral standard....more info
- A classic film with a timeless message
This is a truly classic work with a huge meaning. Excellent production and some of the best acting from any era. I wish it would be re-released in theaters, the message it projects needs to be revisited in today's political/religious culture. The Pope looks to Jesus for direction!...more info
- Shoes of the Fisherman
Although this movie is dated, it is an excellent motion picture. Could this have been part of the motivation of the Cardinals to elect Pope John Paul II? There are many parallels. Coming from a communist country? The first non Italian Pope in many years? Who can say maybe Morris West, the author, was prophetic. There are differences. The communist bishop Kiril Lakota is Eastern Rite, but that is to be expected if he is truly Russian. The young priest Fr. David Telemond (Oscar Verner) who meets Quinn and brings him to the Vatican is an interesting character. Some reviews likened him to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. who had views similar to this young priest. Leo McKern plays Cardinal Leone who is at first jealous of Kiril, but becomes his staunch ally after realizing Kiril's deep spirituality. One scene I personally find facinating is one where Kiril "escapes" the confines of the Vatican and walks the city listening to the sounds of the street and taking in the smells coming from those cooking dinner. He meets a doctor who asks him to fill a prescription and enters into a Jewish house. Shocked to see a priest in their house and especially when he tries to give the dying man "Last Rites," the family announce their Jewish faith. Immediately Kiril begins to chant the "Kaddish" to the amazement of the man's family. The movie is dated, but it is excellent. The acting is excellent and cast superb. It is a must have for those who like religious movies especially those dealing with the Roman Catholic Church....more info
- Favorite Movie
This film is inspirational. The scene where the new Pope is proclaimed, against his wishes, he only wants a humble servent life is excellant. To watch Anthony Quinn's expression change when he hears that the Cardinals are talking of him is a classic. lso, his roaming the streets of Rome in a black cassock shows is humanity, wanting to get to know his flock. I think is conseling David Jansen's wife is important....more info
- Decididly Average.
Although this film has several merits due to its cinematography and interesting coverage of the processes that are involved in electing the next Pope, I found parts of the dialogue and scripting weak and illogical on the basis of how the Church has historically behaved. The very fact that Pope Kiril decides to sell all the Church's assets to feed the hungry is quite frankly absurd, because much of the Church's property simply cannot be liquified.
The dialogues with Fr. Telemond and theological commission observing him seemed to me more like an apologetic for the ideas of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin than anything else. The arguments of those interrogating him could have been presented more rigorously, but then the movie would have morphed into a very involved discussion of Christology, Anthropology and Soteriology. In my estimation the subplot with Fr. Telemond was obtrusive, as was the subplot with the TV newsman and his domestic affairs.
Anthony Quinn's performance in my opinion was weak at times and lacked necessary vigor and pathos. If I ever watch this movie again it will be to see the drama of electing a Pope, not the daily duties of a Pontiff....more info
- A Film Classic
Although some of this film is quite dated. It still is quite an enteraining work of fiction that on many levels is an MGM Classic.
Many folks think this film was prophetic in a few ways. Anthony Quinn as usual delivers a brilliant performace, The rest of the cast including
Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, and Leo McKern of the "Rumpole of the Bailey" fame all shine in their parts. It is a little wierd to hear
Laurence Olivier trying to sound like a Russian Preimer, but he pulls it
off. I have to guess that many reviewer have not read the book that this
movie is based on. George Faber the journalist is just as much a part of the story as anyone else in this story, and David Janssen makes his role
believeable. Oskar Werner's Father Telemond is almost as interesting as
Anthony Quinn's Pope Kiril I. It makes the viewer wonder about many things
Faith is debated and some of the most important questions of the Christian Life are examined especailly the questions of putting the Church's power to use its resources to help prevent famine and to save the world from a nuclear nightmare. These are the things that make the movie and its story timeless. ...more info
- The Shoes of the Fisherman Review
A very well made, technically correct movie concerning the selection of a Catholic Pope. Anthony Quinns portrayal in this film should have earned him an Oscar for best actor....more info
- Dad's Review
This is my fathers FAVORITE movie. He says it was one of the BEST movies ever made. And that Anthony Quinn is outstanding in this role!...more info
- "I have no inside information on how the kingdom of God is to come about"
This film is two stories that are intertwined. The major one is to do with the coming of power of Anthony Quinn as Kiril Lakota and how he will deal with a world hunger crises. The second is how David Janssen as George Faber (necessary to describe how the Vatican works) and his wife Barbara Jefford will settle their differences. Mean while we get a glimpse of the depth of Kiril as he help a dying man.
Based on a story by Morris West, the film depicts the life of a priest that has a unique background and rises through the ranks groomed for a purpose. The purpose and his unique Christian solution are reviled in time.
Look closely as the real gem of the movie is Oskar Werner as Fr. David Telemond who is the embodiment of Teilhard de Chardin and uses many of his quotes. Further information "Phenomenon of Man" by Pierre Teilhard De Chardin.
- Good casting, lame ending
Overall, this program was very enjoyable. The casting was pretty good, and the scenic shots are breathtaking. The whole process of electing the Pope was very interesting, as was the side story of the priest being investigated for his suspect writings about evolution. I do, however, have two complaints. The first is that Lawrence Olivier was not at his best in his role as the Soviet leader. He slipped in and out of his accent, and the result was a bit ridiculous. The same could be said about the Chinese leader, but as that character had a smaller role, it was a little less obvious. My other complaint was the ending. It had a sort of "Ron Howard" tie up everything neatly and everyone lives happily ever after feel to it. I think I would have liked to see more of the new Pope's everyday life shown, and any troubles he had adjusting to a life of luxury relative to his 20 years of imprisonment in Siberia. All in all, however, it was a nice film. I would give it about 3 1/2 stars.
- Laudable but long
On the plus side, this film presents thoughtful characters in an understatedly epic scenario. It also has several very nice moments. However, the film is released at an epic length (with intermission provided on the disc) that doesn't necessarily add to its impact. Many details are included about the Vatican lifestyle being portrayed, and yet although these details are not without interest, I wonder whether they really needed such emphasis to be able to serve the story's themes.
That being said, the main "solution" seen at the end of the film was very nice but was not at all surprising in light of the earlier conversation with the Chinese head of state. In light of the admonition to 'Sell all you have, give to the poor, and follow me' it seemed to make perfect sense, and yet such a consideration (of whether the church can/should follow all the guidance of its credited founder) could be applied to many more elements to make a much deeper examination of the lifestyle. There is a subtheme in which a fellow Cardinal is scrutinized for heretical statements, and that provides the supporting context for the question of possible change.
Given that this was produced in the period of Vatican II probably gave it much more force (and of course it also helps to be able to recall the historical perspective of Cold War confrontationism and brinksmanship). These should be enough to make a very strong movie, but the sheer length doesn't exactly invite me to immediately re-watch it, as is the case with so many other films. Much of the spectacle feels quite impersonal, despite being well-filmed from a technical standpoint, and thus the film might have benefited from trimming down various scenes of crowds and ceremonies and skyline in favor of the characters and their dialogues.
There's a decently strong core to this film (although, as I said, the ending failed to surprise me... someone said the key to great writing is a resolution that feels inevitable yet surprising, and this film's resolution did merely feel inevitable in the light of everything that had been said and shown.) There are probably many viewers, however, who will savor all the extra details and relish the "properness" of the ceremonial settings and demeanors of the protagonists. I appreciate the decent core, but found that it was a bit too diluted by postcard scenery, extra musical interludes, and the overall amount of distant restraint to cause a great amount of inspiration.
This is one of the big differences between film and literature - this is a literate film, but the act of reading contains a certain amount of effort and engagement automatically on the part of the reader. For the much more passive medium of film, extra care needs to be taken to add atmosphere and to add the cinematic equivalents of engaging writing. For example, in that same year was another film, "The Lion in Winter," that was highly stylized and engagingly written, but delighted in the neuroses and instability of its characters. I would take the characters of "In the Shoes of the Fisherman" anyday over the royal swine portrayed in "The Lion in Winter" but the latter film was really more successful at marshalling the techniques of cinematic narrative in the service of supporting its story. If the style of Lion were applied to the plot and characters of Shoes (if the Lion wore Shoes?) then this would have been a great movie. Unfortunately, it's more relegated to several inflated works of its time (e.g. Ice Station Zebra) with running times much longer than their content actually warranted.
Some might argue that the restraint and ritual in Shoes was actually well-suited to recreate the mood of its characters, but that would be to focus narrowly on particular emotions, moods, inclinations (e.g. ritualism, pomp) that do not actually encompass the most worthy content in the scenario. People should also consider that unlike a novel with an omniscient narrator, the film doesn't allow so much access to the inner thoughts that tend to interpret such rituals and settings for audiences in the relevantly meaningful ways.
Thus, a partial success that we wish had been better should receive partial credit. If we were seeing a portrayal of sitting in the desert for 40 days and nights, cinema would properly require some appropriately audio-visual means of conveying all the relevant emotion, thoughts, symbols that go along with the desert trek for its participant; it's not merely enough to have things framed and lit properly (the art of still photography) or to have accompanying music and good acting (could be done on stage just as well). Cinema should combine these separate elements effectively in the service of the work's theme.
In comparison to so many other films (at least, those since Gone With The Wind), Shoes is too distant and leisurely to produce much tension or motivation or suitably compelling moods in its viewers. Thus, despite its laudable aspects, Shoes doesn't quite utilize the cinematic medium fully to serve its themes, instead devoting too much screen time to establish some very basic aspects of its setting (e.g. the controlled disconnectedness of the Vatican) and characters (e.g. in the end there is still surprisingly little explanation of the central character's philosophy, what he learned from Siberia, what his doubts about himself were, etc.).
A comparison with the style of Tarkovsky or Herzog or Visconti or Bergman is revealing in how such scenarios could and probably should be done, but of course those are acknowledged cinematic artists... Too bad one of them wasn't at the helm of this film; it seems to also show a difference between the European style, in which all elements can become well-tied into the meanings and motivations of the characters, and an American "storytelling" style where there is a notable detachment between the elements of setting, character, theme, and plot, in which one feels fortunate when more than one of these harmonizes in support of the others. In viewing this film, I felt occasionally fortunate, but the key for my review was that unlike so many other laudable works, it didn't beg me to immediately re-watch it. I felt that I was able to absorb everything of interest in just a single, very leisurely viewing, after which there were no mysteries or challenges left to keep exploring.
- Quinn and Werner make this a winner
This epic film has a few bumpy moments, but overall, it's vastly entertaining, with its fascinating cast, interesting premise, excellent cinematography and art direction.
Anthony Quinn is fabulous as the Russian Pope. It's a powerful portrayal, and not the type of role one would normally associate with him. Oskar Werner, in a part based on Teilhard de Chardin, is absolutely superb.
Other notable performances come from Laurence Olivier (as the Soviet Premier), John Gielgud (former Pope), Leo McKern and Vittorio de Sica (Cardinals), and Arnoldo Foa (the Pope's valet).
The part of a journalist (David Janssen), is used as a narrator, to move the plot along, and explain certain Vatican procedures, like how a new Pope is elected. I only wish less time had been spent on his petty romantic problems...the film feels more like an "Airport" movie while these scenes are taking place.
This is a sprawling 60's Hollywood treatment of Morris West's best seller, and I think it succeeds. It's thought-provoking, good for several viewings, and Quinn and Werner are riveting....more info
This is a great, great film, if you're Catholic or not, it doesn't matter, you will be held spellbound by the process by which a new pope is selected and that, like we all would want, a great and humble man becomes pontiff. Great stuff. I'd recently finished a few months working in Rome so this was a welcome nostalgia blitz. If that makes any sense!...more info
- Ms Vernon almost says it all
There is one scene that demanded that I buy a copy of TSOTF. Shortly after his election, the new pope goes forth incognito to see Rome - the city that led his life for so long before he first saw it. While wandering about, he is nearly run over by a young British doctor on her way to the home of a terminal patient. What ensues is worth the entire price of the movie - and I am sure would never happen was the new pope not Kiril Lakota....more info
- The Shoes of the Fisherman
This is an excellent film. It is a little long but worth watching. It is well acted with some excellent actors and plots and subplots.
It is about Faith, Love, and Hope for the future along with one man's struggle from nothing into the modern world and finding his faith relevant. Although their are several subplots they all converge on the the central theme of Faith or Faith recovered, Love, Hope, and Hope for the future. Excellent movie...more info
- Movie predicts John-Paul's election
I saw "The Shoes of the Fisherman when it first came out in 1968 / 69. It didn't receive that much acclaim at the time, and there are places in the film where the storyline stalls a little. What has renewed interest in this movie about the election of a Russian Pope is the fact that it came out just ten years before the election of Pope John-Paul II. Who could have guessed in 1968 that a bishop from a communist country would be elected the supreme pontiff of the Universal Church?
The cast reads like a who's who of the acting world: Olivier, Quinn, Werner, McKern. All gave fine perfomances. Leo McKern and Vittorio DeSica were especially effective as Cardinals of the Church. And Oscar Werner's performance as the silenced priest was outstanding.
The set designs were wonderful, and the scenes inside the Sistine Chapel were especially effective. Although the conclave is done behind locked doors, the process of the papal election in this film is said to be very accurate. The drama focuses on how Kiril Lakota, a Russian bishop who has been imprisoned in a labor camp for tweny years, reacts to his freedom and the shock of being selected as the successor of St. Peter. Anthony Quinn carries off this difficult role very well. You can see the anguish in his face as he tries to cope with everything that is happening to him in such a short time. This is one of the better movies from that era, and you are a fan of any of these actors, or have an interest in things Catholic, this is a film to have in your collection...more info