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Karol: A Man Who Became Pope
Karol A Man Who Became Pope
Actors: Piotr Adamczyk, Malgorzata Bela, Ken Duken, Hristo Shopov, Ennio Fantastichini
Director: Giacomo Battiato
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests, Television
NR     2006     3hr 6min

1930s? Poland. 10-year-old Karol Wojtyla has dreams, many dreams. One by one they are shattered. First, by the loss of his beloved mother and brother. Then, by the outbreak of the war and the death-fleeing human exodus whi...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Piotr Adamczyk, Malgorzata Bela, Ken Duken, Hristo Shopov, Ennio Fantastichini
Director: Giacomo Battiato
Creators: Giovanni Mammolotti, Giacomo Battiato, Alessandro Heffler, Pietro Valsecchi, Gianfranco Svidercoschi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Religion, Religion & Spirituality, Television
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/28/2006
Original Release Date: 08/15/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 08/15/2005
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 3hr 6min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

4 Stars were it not for unnecessary 'artistic license' taken
tendays komyathy | U.S.A. & elsewhere traveling | 03/27/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Karol Wojtyla was deeply influenced by the events of the Second World War, or rather, the German invasion/occupation of his native Poland, to be more specific. That's the reason why this film is called what it is; as it tries to convey how the man himself was "made" by a particular historical era into the man the world has since come to know.   If you are looking for an all encompassing 'Life of John Paul II' this isn't the film for you. (See "Witness to Hope" on DVD for that, and/or read George Weigel's biography of Pope John Paul II by that same title.) Roughly half of this presentation concerns the era in which World War Two was fought, leaving not much time to address the half century of this man's service that followed. In many ways, thus, this film is very much a window into Nazi-occupied Poland; a film that one could usefully watch along with "The Wannsee Conference," "Schindler's List," and others. On that level it is a fine film indeed. Piotr Adamczyk, the actor who portays the future pope, moreover, handles the role with remarkable aplomb.   As the story of "The Man who became Pope," however, this film suffers from some very serious shortcomings. In the film pivotal scenes, for instance, are portrayed by a "Father Tomasz Zaleski," who plays Karol's close friend of many years---his spiritual advisor even; a man we ultimately see get shot by a Nazi firing squad. Too bad all this is, in George Weigel's words, "a complete invention. Young Karol Wojtyla did have a spiritual director, Father Kazimierz Figliewicz, but Figliewicz was not his contemporary and was not shot by the Germans, " Weigel has written. Karol's relationship with "Hania," in real life the Polish actress Halina Krolikiewicz Kwiatkowska, is also doctored. A close friend of Karol, she is portrayed as kept in the dark by his decision to join the priesthood (seemingly belied by the fact that he was very open about this with friends supposedly); who then doesn't marry for 7 years---seemingly to imply something here. But she actually married soon thereafter. And her first child was later (1946) baptized by Father Karol. And lastly, to quote Weigel again: "The filmmakers also invent a member of a Wojtyla youth group who is really working for the SB, the secret police. This is not only a total fabrication; it's an insult to the men and women who were, in fact, Karol Wojtyla's closest lay friends, and whose networks were certainly not penetrated by Polish intelligence." But the film adds the fictional priest above, the hint of romantic relations that didn't exist, and---for added measure---some espionage spice that no evidence exists to support. To reiterate: The film is well done and does convincingly convey the spirit of the future John Paul II. Just don't take all the details of the story presented herein as gospel should you choose to view this film along with "Witness to Hope."   God Bless"
Have no fear !
Monika | Mansfield, TX USA | 04/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was born and raised in Warsaw Poland. I was 8 years old when Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II. He was all what I new until he passed away last year. I will never forget his words:
"I plead with you-never,ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid. Do not forget that true love sets no conditions; it does not calculate
or complain, but simply loves". His love to God, Poland and all people was tremendous. He thought us how to forgive and go on.
This movie shows the fundaments of his faith and how it all happened. It is very emotional picture. It is 3 hours long but worth watching every minute of it."
Touching and Inspiring
Inquisitor | 05/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I would think the best words used to describe this movie were expressed by Pope Benedict XVI:


Thursday, 19 May 2005

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am certain to interpret the common sentiments and express living gratitude to those who wanted to offer me and all of you the opportunity to view this moving film tonight; it traces the life of young Karol Wojty³a, leading to his election as the Pontiff known as "John Paul II".

I greet and thank Cardinal Roberto Tucci for his introduction to the film. I then address a word of admiration to the director and writer, Giacomo Battiato, and to the actors, especially Piotr Adamczyk who played the part of John Paul II, to the producer Pietro Valsecchi and to the networks "Taodue" and "Mediaset".

I cordially greet the other Cardinals, Bishops, priests, Authorities and all those who wanted to take part in this viewing in honour of the beloved Pontiff, recently deceased. We all remember him with deep affection and heartfelt gratitude. Yesterday, he would have celebrated his 85th birthday.

"Karol, un uomo diventato Papa" [Karol, a man who became Pope] is the title of the drama, taken from a text by Gian Franco Svidercoschi. The first segment, as we have seen, highlights the situation in Poland under the Nazi regime, with emphasis - now and then very emotionally strong - given to the repression of the Polish people and to the genocide of the Jews. These are atrocious crimes that show all of the evil that was contained in the Nazi ideology.

Young Karol, shocked by so much suffering and violence, decided to do something about it in his own life, answering the divine call to the priesthood. The film presents scenes and episodes that, in their severity, awaken in the viewers an instinctive "turning away" in horror and stimulates them to consider the abyss of iniquity that can be hidden in the human soul.
At the same time, calling to the fore such aberration revives in every right-minded person the duty to do what he or she can so that such inhuman barbarism never happens again.

Today's viewing takes place just some days after the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. On 8 May 1945 the conclusion was marked of that frightful tragedy which sowed destruction and death, in a measure never-before heard of, in Europe and in the world.

Ten years ago, John Paul II wrote that World War II appears with evermore clarity as a "suicide of humanity". Each time a totalitarian ideology crushes man, humanity as a whole is seriously threatened. With the passing of time, memories do not have to fade; rather, they must be a stern lesson for this and future generations. We have the responsibility of reminding especially youth of the forms of unprecedented violence that can lead to contempt for men and women and the violation of their rights.

Under the light of Providence, how can we not read as a divine plan the fact that on the Chair of Peter, a Polish Pope is succeeded by a citizen of that Country, Germany, where the Nazi regime was the most vicious, attacking the nearby nations, Poland among them?

In their youth, both of these Popes - even if on opposing fronts and in different situations - knew the cruelty of the Second World War and of the senseless violence of men fighting men, people fighting people.

During the final days of the Second Vatican Council held here in Rome, the Polish Bishops consigned the "letter of reconciliation" to the German Bishops; the letter contained those famous words that today too resound in our souls: "We forgive and we ask forgiveness".

In last Sunday's Homily I reminded the newly-ordained priests that "nothing can improve the world if evil is not overcome. Evil can be overcome only by forgiveness" (L'Osservatore Romano English Edition, 18 May, p. 7). May the mutual and sincere condemnation of Nazism, as with atheistic communism, be everyone's duty for the building of reconciliation and peace on forgiveness.

"To forgive", our beloved John Paul II again reminds us, "does not mean to forget", adding that "if memory is the law of history, forgiveness is the power of God, the power of Christ that works in the vicissitudes of man" (cf. Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XVII/2 [1994], p. 250). Peace is, in the first place, a gift of God, who makes sentiments of love and solidarity arise in the heart of the person who welcomes it.

I hope that, thanks also to this witness of Pope John Paul II commemorated in this meaningful film, there will be a revival on the part of each person in the proposal to work - each in his or her own field and according to one's means - at the service of a definite action for peace in Europe and in the entire world.

I entrust the hope of peace that all of us carry in our heart to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, who is venerated especially in this month of May. May she, Queen of Peace, encourage the generous contribution of those who intend to put their efforts toward the building of true peace on the solid pillars of truth, justice, freedom and love. With these sentiments, I extend to all my Apostolic Blessing.


The inspiring life story of Karol Wojtyla
Richard J. Brzostek | New England, USA | 07/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Pope John Paul II is probably the most famous Pole in recent history. Before he was Pope John Paul II, he was Karol Wojtyla. Before he became the Pope, he was an actor, poet, teacher, and priest. "Karol: A Man who Became Pope" traces his personal history from the early days of the second world war up until the time he becomes the Pope. His life story is an interesting and inspirational.

The movie begins with a young Karol at the start of World War II, we get to see a close up look at the brutal German invasion of Krakow and how Karol managed to lived though it. The arrival and occupation of the city must have been a traumatic experience, and we get to see the death and destruction the Nazis brought from the perspective of Karol and his friends. Events in the war influenced Karol and made him decide to become a priest so he could help others.

With the end of the war, Poland did not have an easy time, as now the Russians controlled Poland. Priests were a persecuted group as the communists were atheists. A spy was placed to watch Wojtyla as he was deemed to be a threat to communism. We get to see the future Pope develop as a person and spiritually, as he touches the lives of so many people. It was incredible to watch how all of this unfolded.

There are several messages in the film. One theme is life and death, as Karol sees others suffer and even die; yet he does not loose his faith. He remains hopeful and strong in situations where others would give up. This brings us to the other major themes of the movie: faith and love. He never lost his faith in a better future. We also see how love can triumph over hate. Love can pave the way to a better future, and whatever banner hate has, it will not triumph over love.

"Karol: A Man who Became Pope" shows us the amazing story of how Karol Wojtyla persevered from Nazi to communist persecution, detailing the incredible story of an amazing man. It was a reminder to me that hope and faith should not be abandoned in bad times; in fact, they are most needed then. I highly enjoyed this inspirational and touching film.