Social Justice Warrior: a Review of “Pope Francis”
On the day the German director Wim Wenders’ documentary Pope Francis: A Man of His Word opened (May 18th), I went to the earliest morning show at the nearest multiplex. I arrived about 20 minutes early and took a seat. The 10:30 start time rolled around, and I was the only one in the theater.
Wenders is a documentarian of note, as well as a feature film director. His romantic fantasy Wings of Desire (1988), a drama about a guardian angel who falls in love with a trapeze artist, was much-acclaimed, and his 1999 documentary about Cuban musicians, Buena Vista Social Club, received an Oscar nomination – and, again, much acclaim.
Mr. Wenders’ most recent drama, Submergence (2017), a spy thriller of sorts, was an artistic, critical, and financial disaster. Pope Francis may be a sign that the director has lost his touch.
It’s wrong to dignify this exercise in hagiography with the word “documentary.” It’s more akin to the kind of promotional video one might expect to see at a political convention – the kind that uncritically ballyhoos the accomplishments of the party’s nominee.
Wenders, who was raised in a Catholic family, went over to Protestantism and now carelessly describes himself as “Catholic and a Protestant at the same time,” is not at all interested in the pope’s religion. It’s the pope’s activism that hooked him and that led to his decision to accept the Vatican’s request that he make the film.