KAROL: A MAN WHO BECAME POPE
(Hristo Shopov as Julian Kordek)
ORIGINAL TITLE: Karol, un uomo diventato Papa.
DIRECTED BY: Giacomo Battiato.
MAIN CAST: Piotr Adamczyk, Hristo Shopov, Malgorzata Bela, Matt Craven, Ennio Fantastichini, Ken Duken, Violante Placido, Olgierd Lukaszewicz, Lech Mackiewicz, Radoslaw Pazura, Grazyna Szapolowska, Kenneth Welsh and Raoul Bova.
PRODUCED BY: Pietro Valsecchi.
WRITTEN BY: Giacomo Battiato. Based on the book Stories of Karol: The Unknown Life of John Paul II by Gianfranco Svidercoschi.
ORIGINAL MUSIC BY: Ennio Morricone.
RUNTIME: 188 minutes (2 parts).
GENRE: Biography | History | Drama.
The Nazis occupy the country and Hans Frank takes command as representative of the III Reich. The teachings of Polish professors and intellectuals are not compatible with the National Socialist government plan thus all those who dare to speak against German presence in Poland are arrested.
Karol Wojtyla has dreams, lots of dreams. One after another are being shattered. First, by his mother’s and brother’s death. Later on, by the exodus of those who flee death on the outbreak of the war. And finally, by the first signs of Jews persecution.
During this period, he also suffered through his father’s death. These facts mark Karol’s way as miner, poet... until he decides to be a priest and applies for the clandestine seminary of Krakow.
As the war progresses, Soviet troops take over and force a new political order the moment the German army leaves Poland.
High Russian command names Julian Kordek (Hristo Shopov) as 5th Department Chief of the new Polish government, in charge of State religious affairs.
Kordek, a convinced socialist militant, takes his work very seriously and while doing his job soon meets Wojtyla, a "dangerous and subversive priest" who, without a doubt, may be a threat for what Kordek believes is a new revolution.
Thus, Kordek starts his job as head of the 5th Department by arresting the priests who resisted German forces, silencing religious mass media and heavily controlling church access. Aware of the risk that Karol represents, Kordek places a spy close to him to report on his every movement.
But Julian Kordek’s deep political conviction is going to be restrained by the Government leaders’ hypocritical behavior, who wishes to portray Poland as a free religious land to the rest of the world, and play down the threat that Wojtyla poses, firstly as a theology lecturer, and later once he’s entered the hierarchy of the Church.
In spite of the Government passivity, Kordek shall fight Karol’s projects, among them, the construction of a temple in Nova Huta, "a new city for a new man who no longer needs God", taken as a provocative act. The politician will do everything in his powers to curb the priest’s increasing influence.
* NOTE: The film has an extraordinary soundtrack by award-winning Ennio Morricone, and an excellent role by Hristo Shopov giving life to the idealist and tough politician Julian Kordek.
The acquisition of the special edition DVD, containing many extras in disc 2, is highly recommended.