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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If the shoe fits...
This movie is remarkable, all the moreso because of the the amount of inadvertent prophecy that takes place during the course of it. Shoes of the Fisherman is a phrase that is sometimes used to refer to the office of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome; the See of Peter, the Chair of Peter, etc., various other historical and scriptural references are a kind of ecclesial...
Published on 26 April 2006 by Kurt Messick

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lavish, sincere, not always convincing but still engaging epic
As Pope operas go, The Shoes of the Fisherman is pretty enjoyable. Dated but shot on a lavish scale in the days when doorstop novels were turned into star-studded big screen epics rather than TV miniseries, it skirts close to guilty pleasure territory without ever providing any unintentional laughs as Anthony Quinn's political prisoner is freed to act as a mediator...
Published on 11 Oct. 2006 by Trevor Willsmer


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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If the shoe fits..., 26 April 2006
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
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This movie is remarkable, all the moreso because of the the amount of inadvertent prophecy that takes place during the course of it. Shoes of the Fisherman is a phrase that is sometimes used to refer to the office of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome; the See of Peter, the Chair of Peter, etc., various other historical and scriptural references are a kind of ecclesial shorthand.

This story takes place during the height of the Cold War, when it was not primarily a two-way confrontation, but rather seemed to threaten to become a three-way contest with the seeming emergence of China as a communist power independent from the Soviet Union.

Archbishop Kyril (Anthony Quinn), longtime political prisoner of the Soviets, is released (the exact reasoning for this we are never told) by his long-time captor (the Soviet premier, played by Laurence Olivier). He is released to Rome, where he is installed as a cardinal for his faithfulness to the church. Shortly thereafter, the pope (John Gielgud, who is on screen for only a few minutes) dies, and an election takes place. Remarkably, Kyril the Russian is elected pope, after giving a moving account of his time in captivity to assembled cardinals weary of the election process, and shortly thereafter commits the church to a risky mercy mission to prevent war from breaking out between the communist powers.

Subplots include a very timid (by today's standards) love triangle by a reporter, his wife and his soon-to-be ex-mistress, and an ecclesiastical tribunal examining the works of a radical theologian.

This movie had unprecedented vantage of the Vatican for showing the process of a pope's death and succession. The small historical niceties are shown and explained throughout the film. One gets a sense of the procedure and the history.

What makes this movie so remarkable is that it was released a full decade before the election of another pope from the communist block. In 1968 it was considered very shocking to consider a non-Italian pope, much less one coming from behind the Iron Curtain.

Another prophetic instance is in the ecclesiastical trial of the radical theologian -- during his defense, this theologian even uses the words 'cosmic Christ', and recounts a theological formulation very similar to that which later found expression through Matthew Fox (who used the phrase 'cosmic Christ' in one of his book titles), who was silenced by his Roman order, and who finally had to leave the church to remain true to his convictions.

Just how the scriptwriters and director could have foreseen these so far in advance is a mystery.

The film is beautiful, well-acted, a bit long in parts, moving in others (the scene where Kyril, during an 'escape' from the Vatican comes across a dying Jewish man and begins to recite Jewish prayers is one of the more moving scenes theologically of any film), and gives a glimpse into a usually hidden, and largely unchanging world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lavish, sincere, not always convincing but still engaging epic, 11 Oct. 2006
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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As Pope operas go, The Shoes of the Fisherman is pretty enjoyable. Dated but shot on a lavish scale in the days when doorstop novels were turned into star-studded big screen epics rather than TV miniseries, it skirts close to guilty pleasure territory without ever providing any unintentional laughs as Anthony Quinn's political prisoner is freed to act as a mediator between the Church and Russia only to find himself elected Pope. Laurence Olivier delivers the bacon as the Russian premier in one of the first of his hammy blockbuster supporting turns he took to supplement his meagre £150 a week salary at the National Theatre, with John Gielgud turning up for one scene as an ailing pontiff while Oskar Werner, Leo McKern and Vittorio De Sica get the more substantial roles. Too much screen time is wasted on David Jansenn and Barbara Jefford's marital problems, an irrelevant subplot that simply gets discarded entirely in the last third, and the political crisis in the background with a starving China threatening world war isn't entirely convincing. Yet there is some substance there even if the politics, both theological and secular, are somewhat confused - how many roadshow pictures feature a philosopher-priest (Werner) under investigation for developing the theories of Teillhard de Chardin? There's even one surprisingly touching scene between Leo McKern and Quinn near the end of the film about loneliness, and Alex North's grandiose score, incorporating as its main theme part of his rejected score for 2001, is quite magnificent. And if you've ever wanted to see Zorba the Pope reciting the Shema Yisrael, this is the movie for you.

It's just a shame that the recent DVD runs into synch problems in the last third and that the making-of featurette has been cropped from 1.33:1 to 1.85:1, meaning that the extracts from the film in it are cropped both horizontally and vertically!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An insight into a historical religious organization that still influences the world., 14 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Shoes of the Fisherman [1968] + extra's (DVD)
The perfect companion for all film enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Beautiful cinematography of Rome and the Vatican City ! A very detailed glimpse of the heirarchy of the Catholic Church and it's workings ! A Russian priest who served 20 years in a Siberian prison camp becomes the newly elected Pope !

He has a plan to help feed those who have nothing in order to thwart an attack from China which would result in World War III ! Anthony Quinn was terrific with his sensitive performance ! I also liked the young Priest who was considered to be controversial ! Hordes of devotees of the Pope and the Catholic Church ! Two thousand years of Christianity ! Papal pagentry ! A very classic and polished production ! A superb cast ! Deeply religious !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Persevere, 22 April 2013
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I love this novel, prescient of so much that has happened - and failed so far to happen - in the Vatican.
The film is a curate's egg, good in parts. The intoductory part is, frankly, boring. Only when Kiril arrives in Rome and encounters Cardinal Leone (Leo McKern, in a gentler reprise of his brilliant Cromwell in "A Man for All Seasons") does the plot really take off. Barbara Jefford is convincing as Ruth with just that frisson of romantic temptation but David Janssen's George Faber is, again, boring. Kiril's relationship with Telemond is well done, with some attempt to explain just a little of Teilhard de Chardin's problems and the loneliness of the clever.
Worth watching, if only as hint of what might be in Pope Francis I's mind.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I have no inside information on how the kingdom of God is to come about", 11 May 2006
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
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This film is two stories that are intertwined. The major one is to do with the coming of power of Anthony Quinn as Kiril Lakota and how he will deal with a world hunger crises. The second is how David Janssen as George Faber (necessary to describe how the Vatican works) and his wife Barbara Jefford will settle their differences. Mean while we get a glimpse of the depth of Kiril as he help a dying man.

Based on a story by Morris West, the film depicts the life of a priest that has a unique background and rises through the ranks groomed for a purpose. The purpose and his unique Christian solution are reviled in time.

Look closely as the real gem of the movie is Oskar Werner as Fr. David Telemond who is the embodiment of Teilhard de Chardin and uses many of his quotes. Further information "Phenomenon of Man" by Pierre Teilhard De Chardin.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "You are condemned to solitary pilgrimage, until your death. This is Calvary and you have just begun to climb", 18 Dec. 2012
By 
Darth Maciek "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...) - See all my reviews
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This is an excellent and very powerful film, which greatly impressed me. The review which follows contains some limited SPOILERS.

This is an adaptation of the bestselling novel "Shoes of the Fisherman", written by Morris West and published in 1963. The film, turned five years later, is very faithful to the book. Action is situated in the 80s and the story begins when an Ukrainian catholic priest, Kiril Lakota, Archbishop of Lvov (Lviv for Ukrainians), is released after spending twenty years in one of Soviet concentration camps. Soviet government "authorises" him then to "leave the country" - which really means that he is expelled and banished from Soviet Union. After reporting to Vatican, he is received by the Pope who welcomes him warmly and creates him Cardinal.

Then, soon after, the old Pope dies and a long conclave begins - when in the same time the tension between China and Soviet Union brings those countries to the edge of war, which risks to inflame the whole planet... As you can see it at on the cover of DVD, Cardinal Lakota will become Pope, to the greatest surprise of the whole world ("It is the Russian! They've elected a Russian Pope"). Most of this pretty long film covers the very eventful, dramatic and even tragic first weeks of his pontificate.

This film contains many treasures. The conclave part is an extraordinary thing to watch, probably the best representation of this unique event ever shown on the screen. Dialogs are of the highest quality. There are also some extremely moving and beautiful scenes.

Anthony Quinn is of course the main star in this show and he proves here once again that he is a real Hollywood giant. Before this film he already played (amongst others) a Greek commando soldier, a French general, a US Marine, a Philippino guerilla, a Spanish conquistador, an American gunfighter, an Inuit hunter, an Arab sheik, and also Kublai Khan, Attila, Barabbas, Gauguin, Osceola, Zapata, Quasimodo and of course he was also Zorba the Greek and he starred in the immortal "La Strada". Here he is simply perfect as a very great and exceptionnally wise Pope...

Two other actors seconded him in the most excellent way. Austrian actor Oskar Werner plays here a brilliant theologian, Father Telemond, who is however going in his reflections very far from the official line of the Church - and he is great in this role. Australian actor Leo McKern (Number Two in "The Prisoner" series) plays the crucially important character of Cardinal Leone and he does even better. Finally, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Vittorio De Sica appear in smaller but significant roles.

Being a Roman-Catholic myself I found the respectful approach to Christian faith and Catholic Church a very pleasant thing and a welcome change from the usual Catholic bashing in most of more recent films. As the title of this review (which is a citation from the film) indicates, living one's faith is a great challenge, priesthood is a life of duty and never stopping service to others - and so becoming Pope is to combine those two things at the highest possible level of difficulty...

This film can also be seen as a quasi prophecy about the election of Pope John Paul II in 1978: he was also coming from the Eastern bloc, his election was a total surprise, he improved the relations of the Church with the Jews and also in many other ways his pontificate was dramatic and very exceptionnal.

If there is one thing that is rather weak in this otherwise great film, it is the description of the crisis which threatens world peace and a very naive vision of both Soviet and Chinese leaderships. Also, the "great solution" the Pope invents at the end is, in my private opinion, an extraordinarily naive and pretty stupid thing... But this is of course matter to discussion.

To conclude, this is a very good, very moving and very powerful film. I enjoyed greatly watching it and I am keeping my DVD preciously. Enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It, 1 Aug. 2011
By 
C M Cotton "Chris Cotton" (Europe and USA) - See all my reviews
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The film is set in the 1960's and looks at the election of a new Pope through the eyes of two men. One a Russian Bishop (Anthony Quinn) and the other a news journalist (David Janssen). The plot is relatively straightforward, Quinn gets released from internal exile in the Soviet Union and is turned over to the Vatican. He flies to Rome, where he is formally made a Cardinal by the then Pope (John Gielgud). Gielgud subsequently dies and an election is held for a new Pope. Actual footage of the real events of the 1963 election of Pope Paul VI are intermingled into this film. After a number of tied votes, Quinn gets elected as a compromise candidate and becomes the first Pope from an Eastern Bloc country. Quinn becomes the Pope at a time of border disputes between the Soviet Union and China and is forced to intercede, to try and stop a 3rd World War. What makes this film and its script remarkable is that 15 years later, Pope John Paul is actually elected and becomes the first Pope from a Warsaw Pact country.

The film gives a wonderful insight into how a Pope is elected and once elected it shows the limitations on their power. The David Janssen, mistress sub plot, feels completely superfluous to the film and adds very little to the overall story.

This is a great story with the actual events of the 1963 enclave, intermingled with the fictional parts of the film. It is a good story and foreshadows what would happen just a few years later. Although dated and with an unrealistic ending, it is still a good film and well worth watching for its historical storytelling.

Recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Anthony Quinn at his very best, 10 Aug. 2011
By 
Andy Brodie "Andy" (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Released in 1968, this film comes eerily close at times to predicting actual events some 11 years later. Based on the book of the same name by Morris L West, the story follows a Russian political dissident Archbishop, Kiril Lakota (Anthony Quinn), as he's released from 20 years in a gulag and shipped back to the Vatican and is promoted to be a Cardinal just as the sitting Pope dies. This triggers the conclave that sees Quinn elected the first non Italian Pontiff in over 400 years. All this takes place at the height of the cold war with the distinct possibility of the 3rd world war just round the corner.

This film is a much underrated gem, and Anthony Quinn turns in a sensitive and thoughtful performance. Possibly his best. The supporting cast, including Laurence Olivier, Leo McKern, John Gielgud and David Janssen, all who add colour and shade to the story telling.

I've wanted this film in my collection for years, and I'm delighted to finally get my hands on a copy. Watching it again last night, I enjoyed it even more than I remembered, which is always a good sign for a truly great film. Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars must watch dvd--gives you a real vision of the life a Pope has to live., 11 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: The Shoes of the Fisherman [1968] + extra's (DVD)
I love this film. I have watched it on tv and knew I'd want to watch it again, so I bought it.
I didn't realise what a lonely life a pope has to live--and I would like to think that someday some Pope
would have a love of humanity that the one in this film does, and not keep it all in the vaults of the vatican!!!!!!!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Shoes of the Fisherman! Brilliant Film!, 23 Aug. 2012
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This was a film that I watched on television a long time ago and I loved it, so when the opportunity came to buy and see it again I was thrilled. However,I was rather disappointed as there is a good part of the film that has been cut from the DVD - the part he talks with the gardener! Of course the story is also dated as we are no longer under the threat of the cold war but the story still touches and the acting is excellent - Anthony Quinn is a brilliant actor! The questioning of faith in a religion or whatever it is one believes in is still relevant and unfortunately abuse of power, political and religious is still very much with us today and many people are still under oppressive regimes and not free to express themselves and their views. I enjoyed seeing it again!
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