The recent release of the film "We Have a Pope," about a fictional cardinal who is unexpectedly appointed the Supreme Pontiff, necessarily calls to mind other fictional popes who have been brought to life on the screen. From the scandalous to the humorous, these fictional prelates make us look at the papacy in an entirely new light.
Pope Joan in "Pope Joan"
A stunning and shocking portrait of the early Church and its conflicts, this remarkable historical drama focuses on the life and ultimately tragic death of Joan, a woman who may or may not have occupied the position of pope. Full of political intrigue, lush historical detail, and fine performances from its cast, "Pope Joan" is worth watching for the light it casts on the sinister machinations all too frequently a key part of the early church and its dealings with members of its ranks.
Cardinal Lamberto in "The Godfather Part III"
If Joan is an example of one of the most scandalous popes, then Cardinal Lamberto, the scrupulously moral pope in "The Godfather Part III," is an example of a tragic hero who is everything the pope should be. This pope does everything in his power to ensure that the right thing is done and, as so often happens with the most moral characters, he meets his death at the hands of those who don't want to see their corrupt activities exposed.
Cardinal Lamberto shows us all too clearly the dangers that accompany the position of pope, even in the supposedly more enlightened, humane era of the 20th century.
Pope Leo XIV in "Saving Grace"
Not all fictional popes meet an unfortunate end. This lighthearted but ultimately very emotionally deep film makes that clear.
Full of compassion and rich emotions, "Saving Grace" follows a pope as he tries to recapture the spirit he had as a young priest by helping a village regain its ability to be self-sufficient. In the process, he re-learns what it was that led him into the service of God in the first place, thus granting this gentle, soft film a deeply satisfying and uplifting moral ending.
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