The Two Popes

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10th November 2019

The Two Popes is a movie about the journey to the papacy of two men, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

The movie opens with a logo that I immediately recognised, the big N of Netflix. This was a very pleasant surprise for me, as I didn’t expect this at all.

The story starts with the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the moment where he’s chosen to be the 265th pope, Pope Benedict XVI. He’s a very conservative man, and one of his harshest critics is Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, a simple and humble Argentinian man.

The movie shows the talks these two men have about faith and the state of the Church. Cardinal Bergoglio doesn’t approve of the direction the Church has taken, and tries desperately to make the pope accept his resignation. Pope Benedict has a different idea though.

As the story progresses, we find out that he’s thinking about retiring as pope, something absolutely unheard of. He does indeed resign and his successor is Cardinal Bergoglio. He rises to the occasion as Pope Francis, our current pope.

That’s the main story, but there is more to this movie. In several flashbacks we learn about Pope Francis’ earlier life in Argentina, and his life during the ‘Dirty War’. It’s a very interesting look at a period of history most of us might not even be aware of, and a look in the life of a very interesting man.

The actors are brilliant in their roles. Jonathan Pryce (“Tomorrow Never Dies”, “The Wife”) portrays Pope Francis. He absolutely captures his charm and easy-going personality. It doesn’t hurt that they could be twins. 

Sir Anthony Hopkins (“The Silence of the Lambs”, “Hitchcock”) plays Pope Benedict XVI. He really captures the little mannerisms of his pope, the shaking hands, his piano playing… Shoutout to Juan Minujín (“Focus”, “Vaquero”) who portrays Young Jorge Bergoglio in flashbacks. He really made me understand the man better.

I absolutely loved the movie, and I’ll tell you why you should watch it when it comes out on December 20th. I know very little about how a Pope is chosen. In this movie we see how a pope is chosen twice, and it’s absolutely fascinating.

This movie gives us a look into this secluded world, and it’s great. The locations are glorious as well. The talks between Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Bergoglio take place in his summer palace outside of Rome. This gives us luscious green gardens, areal views of Rome and more to feast your eyes on. The scenes in the Vatican are also very beautiful.

When this all enfolded in real life, the media is involved. I remember watching the news to see who would become the new pope. It’s very lovely then, to see real news reports used in the movie, they intertwine new shots of the actors with the original footage.

It helps to root the movie into reality, and you don’t know where the movie ends and reality starts. The flashbacks are also beautifully shot, and Juan Minujín does a marvellous job to bring them to life. They are in black and white, which is a nice touch.

Everybody knows these two figureheads. For example, Cardinal Bergoglio is from Argentina, where they speak Spanish. In the movie, when they show him in his early years, they speak Spanish. In the Vatican, they speak Latin and Italian.

Pope Benedict XVI speaks German sometimes, as he’s originally from Germany. I absolutely love that they are speaking the correct language in the movie, and didn’t just make everybody speak english. It really helps with the immersion.

I truly enjoyed the movie. It has beautiful locations, fantastic leading men and a reviting origin story. If you have Netflix, you should definitely watch it.

Behind Vatican walls, the conservative Pope Benedict and the liberal future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church.

20th December 2019

Fernando Meirelles

Anthony McCarten

Running Time:
2h 05min

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