Corpus Christi (2019 film)

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Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi (2019 film).jpg
Film poster
PolishBoże Ciało
Directed byJan Komasa
Produced by
  • Leszek Bodzak
  • Aneta Cebula-Hickinbotham
Written byMateusz Pacewicz
StarringBartosz Bielenia
Music byEvgueni Galperine
Sacha Galperine
CinematographyPiotr Sobociński Jr.
Edited byPrzemyslaw Chruscielewski
Aurum Film
Distributed byKino Świat
Release date
  • 29 August 2019 (2019-08-29) (Venice Days)
  • 11 October 2019 (2019-10-11) (Poland)
Running time
116 minutes[1]
Budget$1.3 million[3][4]
Box office$8.6 million[3][5]

Corpus Christi (Polish: Boże Ciało) is a 2019 Polish drama film directed by Jan Komasa and written by Mateusz Pacewicz.[6][7] It premiered at 2019 Venice Film Festival[8] Venice Days section. It was also shown in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.[9] At Venice Days, the film won the Europa Cinemas Label Award and the Edipo Re Inclusion Award.[10][11][12] It was also selected as the Polish entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards,[13] making the final nomination.[14] The film tells the story of a Polish ex-convict who wishes to join the priesthood, and cons his way into becoming a priest of a small town.


Daniel has a spiritual awakening while serving his sentence in a youth detention center for second-degree murder, but his criminal background prevents him from pursuing his dream to become a priest once he is released. He is assigned to work in a sawmill in a small town, and while visiting the local church, he pretends to be a priest. The vicar of that church meets Daniel wholly believing his lie, and leaves him in charge of the church while he goes to rehab for an alcohol problem. Daniel begins performing all the duties of priesthood, and enjoys it.

The parishioners enjoy his unorthodox methods, even his unexpected claim from the pulpit to be a murderer, but they have mixed feelings when he starts asking about a recent car accident that caused a lot of trauma in the community. The more time he spends there, he begins to uncover the small town's deep secrets: it's still unclear whether the car crash was actually an accident, but the mayor insists that the issue has been put to bed. The biggest point of contention is whether the driver should be allowed to be buried in the town's cemetery with the other victims. Daniel discovers that after months, the cremated remains still haven't been buried anywhere, and many in the town had sent hateful, threatening letters to the widow. He and his new friend Marta confront the townspeople about this, showing them the letters with their handwriting, and Daniel decides to go forward with a funeral at the cemetery. Marta is thrown out of the house by her mother for bringing out the letters, and she asks to stay at the temporary rectory with Daniel; while there, they make love.

During the funeral, many of the townspeople put aside their hate and pay their respects, and at the end of the ceremony, the priest from Daniel's youth detention center arrives, having been tipped off that the town's new priest is an impostor. He tells Daniel to pack his bags immediately, but Daniel sneaks out a window and goes to the church to celebrate his "farewell Mass". During the Mass, he removes his vestment and shirt, showing all his tattoos, and leaves the church. Daniel is sent back to jail where he again has to face the brother of the man he murdered. At the detention center Daniel fights the brother of the boy he murdered and after gaining the upperhand in the fight he is allowed to walk free by other inmates.



The script for Corpus Christi was written by Mateusz Pacewicz with consultation help from Krzysztof Rak, but after director Jan Komasa read it, he felt the story and especially the character of Daniel needed to be pushed further, so he added a "troubled background" to Daniel's story. Komasa has also said that the car accident that caused such trauma for characters in the film is a symbol for the 2010 Smolensk air disaster, in which 96 people died in a plane crash, including Poland's president and top officials.[15] The film's cinematography was shot in a "a grim, desaturated palette".[16]

The film's production ran into controversy because a man claimed the film was actually based on his real life experiences and his efforts to get in contact with the film's producers were met with silence. The producers have said that the film is not based on this man's life, and instead on various cases of fraud in the priesthood.[17] Pacewicz has said that fake priests are a fairly common occurrence in Poland, and every couple months a new case is discovered; they are often "about the need for a sort of social security for the underprivileged to become a trustworthy priest which is a great form of social status for many".[18]


Corpus Christi was nominated for Best International Film at the 92nd Academy Awards. The film also won 11 Polish Academy Awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Script, Best Actor.[19] The film also won ten awards at the Gdynia Film Festival, including Best Director, Best Script, Journalists’ Award and Audience Award.[20] It won the Silver Star and Best Actor Award for Bartosz Bielenia at the El Gouna Film Festival,[21] and a Special Mention at the Reykjavik International Film Festival.[22] At Luxembourg's CinEast, the film won the Special Jury Prize and the Critics' Prize.[23] Bartosz Bielenia also won the award for Best Actor at the Chicago International Film Festival[24] and Stockholm International Film Festival.[25] He also won the Shooting Stars Award for the most promising up-and-coming European actor.[26]


Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 98% with an average score of 7.84/10, based on 63 reviews.[27] Variety's Peter Debruge called the film "stunning" and "quietly subversive", despite a few plot points that feel like a soap-opera to him.[28] "Bielenia is never less than totally compelling," wrote Christy Lemire for, adding that "this is a complex character full of layers and contradictions."[29] Writing in the Polish magazine Polityka, Janusz Wróblewski described the film as more suspenseful than the classic Western films, and lauded the ways in which it exorcises the complexities of Poland's past.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Allan Hunter (29 August 2019). "'Corpus Christi': Venice Review". ScreenDaily. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  2. ^ "Corpus Christi". TIFF. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b Barraclough, Leo; Barraclough, Leo (7 December 2019). "Poland's Oscar Entry 'Corpus Christi' Scores at Home and in International Markets".
  4. ^ Grynienko, Katarzyna (1 January 1970). "PRODUCTION: Jan Komasa Shoots Corpus Christi".
  5. ^ "Corpus Christi". Box Office Mojo.
  6. ^ "Jan Komasa's Corpus Christi enters post-production". Cineuropa. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  7. ^ autori, Giornate degli. "BOŻE CIAŁO".
  8. ^ Vivarelli, Nick (23 July 2019). "Transgender Immigrant Pic 'Lingua Franca,' Thriller 'Only Beasts' to Bow at Venice Days". Variety. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Toronto Adds The Aeronauts, Mosul, Seberg, & More To Festival Slate". Deadline. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  10. ^ autori, Giornate degli. "GdA audiences vote in Arab Blues.The Label goes to Corpus Christi". (in Italian). Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  11. ^ "VENEZIA 76 - Il Premio Edipo Re a "Corpus Christi" -". (in Italian). Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  12. ^ "Biennale Cinema 2019 | Collateral Awards of the 76th Venice Film Festival". La Biennale di Venezia. 7 September 2019. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  13. ^ Barraclough, Leo. "Toronto Entry Corpus Christi Selected as Poland's Candidate in Oscar Race". Variety. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  14. ^ "10 Films Make Shortlist for Oscars' Best International Film". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  15. ^ Vourlias, Christopher (1 September 2019). "Polish Director Jan Komasa on Venice Days, Toronto Player Corpus Christi". Variety. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  16. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (18 February 2020). "Corpus Christi Review: An Ex-Convict Finds His Calling". New York Times. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  17. ^ ""Boże ciało" robi furorę na świecie. Powalczy nie tylko o Oscara, ale i Złote Globy" ["Corpus Christi" makes a sensation across the world. He will fight not only for the Oscar, but also Golden Globes]. Newsweek Polska (in Polish). 28 October 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  18. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (6 January 2020). "'Corpus Christis Mateusz Pacewicz And Bartosz Bielenia Talk How A Polish Film About Fake Priesthood Became A Universal Story". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  19. ^ "11 Polish Eagles have landed for Corpus Christi". Cineuropa - the best of european cinema. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  20. ^ Franklin, Anna (1 January 1970). "FNE at Gdynia Polish Film Festival 2019: Prize Winners". Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  21. ^ "Egypt's week-long film festival concludes with 224,000-USD awards announced - Xinhua |". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  22. ^ "The prized and the popular films at RIFF are screened today, Sunday – RIFF". Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  23. ^ "Oleg and Corpus Christi triumph at Luxembourg's 12th CinÉast Film Festival". Cineuropa - the best of european cinema. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  24. ^ Stamets, Bill (25 October 2019). "Chicago International Film Festival awards top prize to French love story Portrait of a Lady on Fire". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  25. ^ "Polish actor wins Best Actor award at Stockholm film festival". Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  26. ^ "Corpus Christi actor Bartosz Bielenia joins thespian A-list after being awarded European Shooting Stars 2020". Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  27. ^ "CORPUS CHRISTI (BOZE CIALO)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  28. ^ Debruge, Peter (13 January 2020). "Corpus Christi: Film Review". Variety. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  29. ^ Lemire, Christy (19 February 2020). "Corpus Christi". Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  30. ^ Wróblewski, Janusz (12 October 2019). "Recenzja filmu: "Boże Ciało", reż. Jan Komasa" [Movie review: "Corpus Christi", dir. Jan Komasa]. Polityka (in Polish). Retrieved 1 April 2020. Trzyma w napięciu lepiej niż klasyczne westerny, egzorcyzmując najciemniejsze polskie kompleksy.

External links[edit]