Saturday, October 15, 2011

"The Shoes of The Fisherman" with Anthony Quinn, Oskar Werner and David Janssen (1968)

One of the main reasons I took this film out was to simply watch, and listen to, Oskar Werner, who plays a conflicted Priest in this high drama set in Rome during the 1980's. The film was made in 1968, and therefore assumes a lot about the direction of global affairs over the next 20 years. Notwithstanding, this is a very well made film, with many things to be said about world politics and religion. Who really drives the train?

Archbishop Kiril Lakota, played by Anthony Quinn, a Priest from the Ukraine, is freed after 20 years in Siberia, imprisoned for his religious beliefs. He is freed at the request of the Vatican, and on the verge of a nuclear confrontation between China and Russia, resulting from a widespread famine in China. This famine was caused by trade restrictions imposed by the United States. Once he arrives in Rome he meets the troubled Priest David Telemond. Father Telemond is undergoing an investigation into his beliefs, which at times seem to be at odds with church doctrine. His real crime, of course, is his expression of these beliefs. They pose a threat to those in power.

Upon his arrival at the Vatican, Archbishop Kiril is made Cardinal Priest by the Pope himself, which places Kiril in the line of succession, should anything happen to the Pope. When the Pope, played by Sir John Gielgud, does pass away, the College of Cardinals vote, seven times, to name a new Pope. When they become deadlocked in their decision, the Cardinals elect Kiril as the new leader of one of the world's largest religious denominations. He will be called Pope Kiril I.

Serving as a guide throughout the movie is David Janssen, who plays a news reporter, plagued by his own self-doubts, and a troubled marriage. His doubts and questions mirror those of Pope Kiril, as the Pontiff struggles with a world crisis and the investigation of Father Telemond. Somehow he must find a way to bring these separate, but equally important issues, into harmony.

The best scenes in this movie are all concerned with religious doctrine as Father Telemond is questioned about his faith. Oskar Werner is brilliant in his role as the beleaguered Priest. This may be one of his best performances ever, almost eclipsing his role as the East German Prosecutor in the film "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold."

Great performances by all, especially Oskar Werner and Anthony Quinn, with a multi-layered storyline, make this a film worth watching.

No comments:

Post a Comment