By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Born in Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio would grow up to become a Catholic priest and later achieve the highest position in the church. As Francis, the first pope from Latin America, the new leader of the Catholic Church hopes to usher in a more progressive age with an open-minded attitude towards the problems and issues of humanity, as well as taking a non-condemning position to the realities of modern lifestyles. This new documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Wim Wenders sheds more light on today’s Pope and on why he has taken a more unconventional approach to his work.
Wenders’s film introduces his audience to the Pope in his early days as a priest. Because the priest came from humble and poor beginnings, he has always had a desire and passion to help the impoverished and suffering. The film fast-forwards to the time when, as a Cardinal, he is selected to be the next Pope. Father Bergoglio chooses the name Francis, as St. Francis of Assisi is the chief inspiration for his approach to his work. At the time when St. Francis served as a Friar for the church, he was considered a revolutionary, ahead of his time monk. The Pope acknowledges the good achieved by St. Francis and hopes to take the Catholic Church to a new level of relevancy in the world with a less dogmatic approach. Pope Francis not only wants to improve his church, but wants to enact real, positive changes in the world.
I must say that not only am I mostly impressed with this documentary, but I am wonderfully impressed with the messages expressed by a Pope who seems genuine and sincere. Though I was raised Catholic, I have found myself estranged from the religion for many years, mainly because I cannot and refuse to agree with some of the archaic beliefs which have no relevance in a modern world. Though I did not agree with everything stated by Pope Francis in the film, I still found myself pleased with just about everything else. I definitely applaud him for being the most open-minded pontiff in well, probably a long time if not ever. He comes across as a genuine and humane leader who wishes to help the oppressed and poor while reminding the wealthy of their duties to assist those in need. As a leader, the Pope sets the example by renouncing the extravagance and lavish riches enjoyed by previous popes.
As a film, Pope Francis: A Man of His Word does a great job of capturing Francis’s warm and inviting personality. It effectively shows his incredible impact on those with whom meets and converses. I also rather enjoyed the references to the work done by St. Francis of Assisi, though the recreations sometimes come across as corny. Still, I appreciate the fact that Wenders made an effort to show how the Saint’s work inspires and drives what the Pope hopes to accomplish today.
Now I know a lot of people will shy away from this film either because they are not religious or do not share the same beliefs in a deity that people of Christian faiths have. However, I must highly recommend this film nevertheless. One doesn’t have to be a believer to appreciate the wonderful , heartfelt messages that Pope Francis hopes to spread all over the world. This film proves him to be a ray of light in an often dark, cold-hearted world. His messages are all based in pure love and peace, and that is something we will always need more of on this planet.