Great portrayals of the papacy on film
Pope St John Paul II’s abilities as a playwright and actor were exhibited in his natural knack for taking the stage and captivating an audience. On the huge stage of the Vatican he was able to imbue each appearance with a sense of immediate and powerful significance. Given the colorful history and global impact of the papacy it’s hard to avoid the drama and drive that is woven into the office of the successor of Peter.
Struck by the underlying drama of the papacy (and being somewhat of a movie buff), I began to explore the portrayal of popes on film. Some of the world’s finest actors have donned the white soutane. The wonders of the internet mean you can click on my links to watch some of their performances. One of my favorites is the cameo performance here of Catholic convert Alec Guiness playing Pope Innocent III in Franco Zefirelli’s Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Guiness brings his best Obi-Wan Kenobi mystique to the role.
Meanwhile you can go
In the TV mini series The Borgias,Jeremy Irons plays Rodrigo Borgia, the corrupt renaissance pope Alexander VI. The trailer is
From the 1960s comes a fictional pope. In The Shoes of the Fisherman, Anthony Quinn portrays Pope Kiril. Morris West’s prophetic novel envisions a pontiff from the Eastern bloc who turns the church upside down. Ten years after the cold war thriller Pope John Paul II was elected. The Shoes of the Fisherman also features a cameo of John Gielgud once again playing a Pope Pius, but this time it is the fictional Pius XIII. Gielgud is the only example of one actor playing two successive popes—even if one of them was fictional. Watch the trailer for The Shoes of the Fisherman
Among papal bio pics, the 2005 Pope John Paul II stands out as the best. Cary Elwes plays a young John Paul II while veteran actor Jon Voigt portrays the adult pope brilliantly. Watch the trailer