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Andrew

The Two Popes

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Has anyone else seen this yet?  I found it to be a solid film on all counts (acting, storytelling, visuals, morality).  As I said to Jessica afterwards, this is what a truly Christian film should aspire to be:  multidimensional characters (esp. Pryce's Bergoglio, but Hopkins' Ratzinger as well) authentically wrestling with contemporary dilemmas and their own frailties, seeking guidance from their faith.  As a former Christian, their talk - of seeing God's guidance in accidental encounters, seeking to hear God's voice - rang true. 

The film came close to heavy-handedness only once, in its talk of certain leaders wanting to build walls, but mostly was poignant in its contemporary relevance.  And its touches of humor only added to its charm.  

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I am supposed to have a piece on this in Christianity Today...any moment? (I thought it was supposed to go live yesterday.)

Dramatically, I thought it was fine, but I disagree with Andrew about multidimensional characters. The film came across to me--a protestant--as Francis GOOD, Benedict BAD, so I wonder how it will skew to Catholics. (I think Steven said he is reviewing it, so it will be interesting to hear from him and Evan.) 

 

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51 minutes ago, kenmorefield said:

Dramatically, I thought it was fine, but I disagree with Andrew about multidimensional characters. The film came across to me--a protestant--as Francis GOOD, Benedict BAD, so I wonder how it will skew to Catholics. (I think Steven said he is reviewing it, so it will be interesting to hear from him and Evan.) 

Francis is certainly the more sympathetic character, with Benedict the verging-on-stodgy old conservative, but then again, I know plenty of people like that.  I felt he was humanized nicely in bonding with Francis through lively give-and-take dialogue and their mutual love of music. On a personal level, he was relatable as an introvert, who's more comfortable in the world of ideas and books. (And the growing affection between Francis and Benedict was apparent to me.)

And yes, I'm very keen to hear from Evan and Steven on this.

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I'll make a point to watch it this weekend, after I'm back home from Thanksgiving travels.

When I first heard of this, I assumed it would be Benedict = bad old conservative, and Francis = good younger liberal. And I was kind of dreading that, because I think Benedict is far more liberal than he's usually given credit for, and Francis is far less liberal than he's generally assumed to be. I'd say this article is a pretty accurate summary of Benedict's papacy: https://psmag.com/social-justice/pope-benedict-retires-catholic-church-rome-52649

After reading Andrew's and Ken's comments, it seems that might be the case. However, making Benedict relatable as an introvert and academic (which he certainly is) gives me some hope for this. Because some of Benedict's alleged conservatism certainly came from him being an introverted academic whose words were often twisted by far-right Catholics in America to make him sound like he agreed with them far more than he actually did, and the reason Francis is hated so much by that same group is that he has a blunt, down to earth way of speaking that they can no longer twist to their benefit, even though Francis is saying less liberal things about climate change and economic justice.

Anyway those are the preconceptions I'll be coming to the film with.

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Here's our article:

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/november-web-only/netflix-two-popes-pits-tradition-against-progress.html

While tweaks in the language ("dangerous") make it skew a little more negative than I actually felt, I do think that it captures my central reservations that the film is slanted against Benedict and that it overly simplifies the papal positions (if not necessarily those of their followers) towards orthodoxy and reform.

Quote

The film sees the key difference between the two men as their respective attitudes toward orthodoxy and reform—a contrast that should interest Protestant viewers as much as Catholics. In ways both large and small, it repeatedly shows a preference for Bergoglio over Benedict and, by implication, for reform over tradition.

 

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