Pope Francis: A Man of His Word
Wim Wenders, director of this feature documentary
Starring: Pope Francis
Review by Marc Glassman
When documentary filmmakers or journalists agree to offer no negative opinions in exchange for complete access to a subject, that’s referred to as a “deal with the devil.” Pope Francis is not the Devil but whatever agreement Wim Wenders reached to direct this film certainly left him with nothing controversial or even vaguely confrontational to say about the current Holy Father. In exchange for creating a film with absolutely no bite to it, Wenders was able to interview the Pope at length and follow him on some of his glitzy global tours.
Pope Francis, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, is clearly an articulate man. He talks with great passion about ecology, the negative effects of globalization and the need for everyone to have enough to eat. Wenders cleverly inserts questions from small audiences that were given access to the Pope. Many of those are quite basic—what any interviewer would call softball questions—which allows the Pope to hit back with “home run” answers. He can talk about climate change or accepting migrants into society and get back big cheers. The Pope is also quite strong on abuse and pederasty, claiming that he has a “zero tolerance” position on those matters. What we don’t get is Francis dealing with truly challenging issues like abortion and the unequal position of women in the church.
Pope Francis is a very good infomercial for the Pope and the Church. Let’s hope that Wenders returns to genuine filmmaking soon.
Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus
Tune in to hear Marc Glassman’s Art Reviews
Friday’s at 9:07am on Classical Mornings with Mike and Jean.