Pope John Paul II (TV miniseries)

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Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II DVD2.jpg
Directed by John Kent Harrison
Written by John Kent Harrison
Starring Jon Voight
Cary Elwes
James Cromwell
Ben Gazzara
Christopher Lee
Distributed by CBS
Release dates 4 & 7 December 2005 (USA)
Running time 200 min (2 parts)
Language English

Pope John Paul II is a 2005 television miniseries dramatizing the life of Pope John Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyła) from his early adult years in Poland to his death on 2 April 2005 at age 84.

The film was written and directed by John Kent Harrison and aired in the United States on the CBS network on 4 and 7 December 2005. It was first released in Vatican City on 17 November 2005 and ten days later throughout Italy.

Jon Voight portrays the older Karol Wojtyla (after his investiture as Pope in 1978), while Cary Elwes portrays Wojtyla in his earlier life from 1939 to 1978. Voight was nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance.

Pope John Paul II co-stars James Cromwell, as Archbishop Adam Stefan Sapieha, Ben Gazzara, as Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, and Christopher Lee as Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński. Polish actor Mikolaj Grabowski is seen twice playing Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, who would succeed John Paul II as Pope Benedict XVI on 19 April 2005.

Plot[edit]

Part 1: (4 December 2005)

The film opens in 1981 with the Pope John Paul II assassination attempt, then flashes back to the young Karol "Lolek" Wojtyla who survives World War II by working in Kraków's Zakrzowek quarry and Solvay's chemical plant while secretly embracing the illicit Theatre of Poland to keep Polish culture alive. Wojtyla accepts a calling to study for the priesthood and joins an underground seminary, involving himself in the Polish Resistance movement. In 1945, the war ends with the Communist occupation and eventual takeover of Poland. In 1946, Wojtyla is ordained a priest while the Communists hunt down and eliminate anyone who had any ties to the Polish government in exile during the war. Wojtyla travels to Rome for his graduate studies and returns to Poland in 1948 for his first pastoral assignment in Niegowic. In 1949, he is transferred St. Florian's church in Krakow, where he also is a counselor to students at Jagiellonian University. In 1956, Wojtyla is appointed professor at the Catholic University of Lublin. In 1958, the Holy See appoints him Kraków's auxiliary bishop—Poland's youngest bishop ever.

In 1959, Wojtyla ends the decade by holding Nowa Huta's first Mass outdoors on Christmas Eve in the Communists' newly completed churchless "city without God". Afterwards, he leads an unusual procession of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa's empty picture frame through Krakow when religious image displays were illegal and attends all four Vatican II sessions, where he impresses many influential foreign cardinals with his charisma, multilingualism and viewpoints, both before and during his term as Kraków's archbishop. After becoming a cardinal himself in 1967 by Pope Paul VI, Wojtyla returns to Poland as Karol Cardinal Wojtyla and miraculously cures a bone marrow cancer victim by praying to Padre Pio. Paul VI dies in 1978 and Papal conclave, August 1978 convenes, electing Albino Cardinal Luciani as Pope John Paul I, who himself dies only 33 days later. The cardinals then reconvene with Papal conclave, October 1978 and Wojtyla is told by Wyszynski to accept the position if he is elected-for Poland's sake.

Part 2: (7 December 2005)

Opening on October 16, 1978 with deadlocked balloting, Wojtyla wins the election as the first non-Italian pope since Adrian VI in 1522, naming himself John Paul II. In his Papal inauguration speech, he says "be not afraid", causing Soviet leaders to decide that Wojtyla is "no friend of Marxism". Afterwards, he performs papal mediation in the Beagle conflict between Argentina and Chile. In 1979, he receives Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko at the Vatican, writes his first papal encyclical—Redemptor Hominis—and visits Mexico where he is seen by millions. Afterwards, he makes his first papal visit to Poland with audiences also in the millions and afterwards the United States. He supports Polish Solidarity and receives Lech Walesa at the Vatican. The 1981 assassination attempt occurs but without any flashbacks to his younger years. After his recovery, Pope John Paul II appoints Cardinal Ratzinger Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, after which he is visited by U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and in December 1983, visits his failed assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca inside Rebibbia prison to personally forgive him. In December 1984, he appoints Joaquin Navarro-Valls director of the Holy See Press Office, coins the term "World Youth Day" in 1985 and witnesses the downfall of East bloc Communism in 1989.

During the 1990s, Pope John Paul II fails to stop the Invasion of Kuwait and the following Gulf War. He responds to the abortion debate with his Letter to Women encyclical. His book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, becomes a best-seller. John Paul II suffers from advanced Parkinson's Disease symptoms but keeps a busy schedule. In response to his suffering, he writes his Evangelium Vitae encyclical as opposition to a worldwide culture of death. He tries to improve Christian-Jewish reconciliation and Holy See–Israel relations. He starts the third millennium by visiting Israel in 2000 and apologizing for the Church's sins committed during its history, watches the 9-11 attacks in 2001 with horror and in 2002, addresses American cardinals that he summoned about the "appalling" Catholic sex abuse scandal. His last public appearance is shown, then his death is announced, with a voiceover of his last requests and a montage of earlier events amid the closing credits and main film score.

External links[edit]