The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968)

“The Shoes of the Fisherman” (1968)



propaganda meets real life

One has to admire how cleverly this story anticipates reality. The understanding that the “insider” from behind the curtain, placed in the right position, with the right power, could make a difference in the outcome of the cold war.

Well, most of what we see in this film is romantic brain washing. The cliché of the good, well-intentioned, humble man who, despite being at the top of the world and political guidance, still holds as a patron for love and for the lives of the disadvantaged. That’s why we have the bits of the pope living an ordinary life, in the “real” city and mostly, that’s the meaning of the final scene, which follows ‘The Great Dictator’. But in Chaplin, we Really had a committed artist, someone who, in that moment, cared so much for what he stood for, that he risked what he was as a celebrity and even as an artist just to pass the message, of true humanity. Here, we have perverse engineering of the story (i haven’t read the book, this refers to the film only). So, that final speech should, and eventually does sound like the rebellion scream of a man who tries and breaks the chains of higher interests, in favor of the disfavored. But it is itself part of the scheme that allows for the brainwashing of those disfavoured, and the replacement of the Church as the spiritual, superior leader. Well, the interests of the church in matters of Cold War and after that were political, were mundane, were not selfless. Not in this situation nor in any other in 2000 years history.

But it is remarkable (and i suppose this goes for the writer) how accurate was his prediction. How did he assume that a pope would come from the chains of suffering of the soviet union? Did he know something? How did he create the biography of a man that might really resemble John Paul II? That really is remarkable.

The cinematic options are good. The film is highly textured, it shoots many things on location, and it really plays with the colors, and the textures of the inner spaces of the Vatican, it amazed me the visual concerns on those matters. Also i was moved by the use of real footage repeatedly, whenever (i suppose) was the need to show “real” people in S.Peter’s square. Whether it was a budget necessity, or a real option, i don’t know, but the fact is those moments with real footage made the whole construction slide into a delicious sensation of documentary which, if you over layer the last 30 years of history, will make this a much stronger work. To enhance this, we have a designated storyteller, a reporter who literally tells us the facts, from the public point of view. That reporter has a personal story, which we follow, and which mixes the story of the pope at a certain point. That’s not innocent.

Well, you can choose to enhance how effectively the cinematic construction works, and how it is probably more powerful today than it was in its day, because of the facts that we know today. Or you can simply stick to the fact that films like this are veiled propaganda, that they intend to bend the opinions of the people without assuming themselves as propaganda. I took that note, but i enjoyed the experience.

My opinion: 3/5

This comment on IMDb


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