Left-wing Italian film-maker, Nanni Moretti, has attacked many institutions in his time: his 2006 film The Caiman laid in to Berlusconi. Not a surprise then that the Catholic Church would eventually be a target, though with Habemus Papam he hasn’t gone in for the kill, only stirred things up a little with this comedy which has not upset the church too much.
The Daily Telegraph commented,
We Have a Pope is based on a delightfully witty premise. It has drawn mild disapproval from the Vatican, along the lines that the film does not represent the real church.
That is not a criticism. You are thanking me. You must be thanking me, for not depicting the real church.”
The film centres on the election of a new Pope. The cardinals are all in the Sistine Chapel but no-one wants the job. 85 year-old French actor Michel Piccoli plays Melville, the chosen one, who panics. A psychoanalyst (played by Moretti) is called in to determine the cause of Melville’s problems, but this therapy session is carried out in front of cardinals and Vatican official.
While I was writing the movie, I read many documents that said many newly elected Popes panicked and had this trouble. In an interview, Benedict XVI said that he had the same feeling when he learnt he was elected. He said so, so we have to believe him.
“I’d also been struck by the fact that within a few minutes a man who has never been seeking this change all of a sudden has to be the incarnation of God on Earth – which is a huge thing…
…“Maybe we do need to have Popes and prime ministers, but maybe they should be a little different from what they are. When I show the human side of the Pope in this film, he’s not ashamed of showing and giving a name to his feeling of uneasiness.”
We Have a Pope opens in the UK on December 2