You may expect a film about the current Pope to be of interest only to religious viewers, but veteran director Wim Wenders tries his hardest to generate a broader audience for his gentle documentary. This is a film unconcerned with the spirituality or legitimacy of religion, but one that explores how religion can be used to foster a progressive morality across the world.
That may seem like a strange goal considering the Catholic church has long been a bastion of incredibly conservative, traditional values, but the incumbent Pope Francis is a leader unlike any the church has seen in a while.
His goals are a church for the poor and for the good of our planet, two broad aims that set him apart as a particularly liberal leader. He practises what he preaches as well, rejecting the opulence his office affords him in favour of a modest lifestyle. As he repeats several times throughout this documentary, we should all ask ourselves if we could get by with a little less.
Pope Francis is an admirable and affable man, using his immense power to push for real change and a more open-minded interpretation of Christianity – taking relatively liberal stances on homosexuality, women in the church, and offering forceful words on the punishment of Catholic paedophile priests. The problem is a lot of these are just words, with the feel of recycled platitudes. You want to give him the benefit of the doubt but there is little hard evidence to back-up his ambitious claims.
Wenders offers very little scrutiny in general, leaving this documentary feeling more like an empty piece of propaganda offering nothing new. A closing scene mentions the ‘resistance’ Pope Francis has faced, and Wenders’ work would have hit much harder if more of that was on display.
CAST: Pope Francis, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, John Kerry
DIRECTOR: Wim Wenders
WRITERS: Wim Wenders (screenplay), David Rosier
SYNOPSIS: Pope Francis travels the world speaking to those in need and delivering a message of hope.