Friday, April 29, 2011

Essential Cinema - 50

From Cinema

The Shoes Of The Fisherman

Anthony Quinn ... Kiril Lakota
Laurence Olivier ... Piotr Ilyich Kamenev (as Sir Laurence Olivier)
Oskar Werner ... Fr. David Telemond
David Janssen ... George Faber
Vittorio De Sica ... Cardinal Rinaldi
Leo McKern ... Cardinal Leone
John Gielgud ... The Elder Pope (as Sir John Gielgud)
Barbara Jefford ... Dr. Ruth Faber

Michael Anderson

James Kennaway
John Patrick
Morris L. West novel

Erwin Hillier

A Russian bishop exiled to a Soviet gulag for 20 years is thrust into the Papacy by forces beyond his control.

How power can come in unexpected ways to those that least expect it. Those that live a simple life can sometimes see things much more clearly than those at the center of the storm.

I liked this film. It has a lot of flaws, but the concept and pageantry of the film makes it somewhat epic. It delves into some of the hidden ceremonies within the Catholic Church and gives a sense of what it must be like to be a part of the oldest organization known to mankind. Anthony Quinn alone is worth watching. He plays the lead role of Bishop Kiril Lakota with understatement and intensity. As a simple man that has seen more horror in his life than most, he finds himself a duck-out-of-water in the political intrigue that surrounds the Vatican. He must find ways to cope and change the direction of the church and its place in a changing world. All of the actors in the film seem to be relishing their roles, which make them appear larger than life.

What I didn't care for in the film were the sub-plots. The philandering television reporter played by David Jansen served little more than to narrate some of the intricacies of the Catholic Church. His estranged relationship with his wife did nothing to move the plot along and seemed to be little more than a distraction. His huge metal-ball hand-held microphone also seemed just downright odd.

The sub-plot of Fryer Telemond with his writings about the meaning of faith and the concept of what God is also seemed to have little relation to the plot, with the possible exception of making Kiril question what faith is and to think outside the box. Oscar Werner is a joy to watch, but I think he was somewhat wasted in this role.

The only other thing I found disappointing was the soundtrack. For a film of this scope and grandeur, I would have expected something more sweeping in scope and religious in tone. What Alex North gives us is something akin to 1960 pop inspired background music which just did not do it for me.

This film is somewhat dated. It was shot in the 1960s and predicted what the world might have been like in the 1980s, with the cold war adversaries of the United States, the U.S.S.R. and China still playing a game of nuclear brinksmanship. The future didn't turn out this way, but it is still interesting to speculate how it could have been.

This film is a part of my LaserDisc Collection which is located on the LaserDisc Database.

Clicking on the "Essential Cinema" title will take you to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) entry for this film. The listing of all the LaserDiscs that I have reviewed on IMDB can be found here.

Clicking here will take you to a listing of all the "Essential Cinema" reviews in my Blog.