Karol: A Man Who Became PopeMovie Title: Karol: A Man Who Became Pope

Original title:  Karol, un uomo diventato Papa

Release dates: 2005

Genre: Historical, Bibliographic

Directed by: Giacomo Battiato

Starring: Piotr AdamczykMałgosia BelaRaoul Bova

Country:: Italian

Duration of: 03:06:06

Language:  Language: English

Description:  "Karol: A Man Who Became Pope" is a biography of Karol Wojtyła, later known as PopeJohn Paul II, beginning in 1939 when Karol was only 19 years old and ending at the Papal conclave, October 1978 that made him Pope. 

The man we know as Pope John Paul II had a full life before he became our Pope in 1978. He was a writer, an actor and an athlete in his youth and would have succeeded brilliantly in any of these fields. The made-for-TV three-hour film chronicles the young man's life from his early years as a university student up to his election as Pope when he was 58 years old.

The story begins with the invasion of Poland by the Germans in 1939 when Karol Wojtyla was 19 years old. The film follows his experiences as a budding actor, a member of an underground resistance movement, and includes a subplot depicting a semi-romantic relationship between himself and his good friend and fellow actress, Hania. Sources indicate that the relationship is exaggerated in the film.

His love for his country, Poland, and the Catholic Church are not exaggerated however. Karol finds himself drawn to the priesthood as a way to bring goodness back to the divided land of Poland. One thing stands in his way. The Nazis have closed all seminaries; the priests have to study underground while they continue with their daily jobs. Karol joins them and devotes all his free time surreptitiously to his priestly studies.

His intellectual prowess is, of course, recognized by his superiors. Although he would wish to remain a simple parish priest in Warsaw, he is given a position teaching at the university where his renown grows daily. Another questionable subplot emerges when a supposed friend spies on his activities to the point of secretly taping his confessional. The friend finds, however, that he has come to admire Wojtyla for his good qualities, finding nothing that he can accuse him of. He breaks down and tells Wojtyla of his activities and they become friends.

The defeat of the Nazis is followed closely by a takeover of Poland by the Communists, providing an endless battle for human rights and justice. Karol Wojtyla becomes a central character in the political and ecclesiastic circles in his beloved country.

Piotr Adamczyk portrays Karol Wojtyla admirably, having blond hair, a lean athletic build and a stage presence projecting a keen intelligence. Adamczyk has the gift to project a series of emotions in the many close-ups of his attractive face, allowing us to forget that it is not the young Karol we are viewing on the screen.

The movie, filmed on location in Poland and at the Vatican, was released just a few weeks after the death of John Paul II in 2005. The Pope had seen the film and is said to have been very impressed with Adamczyk's portrayal.

The film ends abruptly with the election of Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II. It is a fine tribute to a highly regarded churchman who is considered a saint by millions of Christians.

The movie "Pope John Paul II" starring John Voight will enlighten the viewer regarding the papal years of Karol Wojtyla. Another film, "Testimony" based on the book "A Life with Karol" by the Archbishop of Krakow, Poland also chronicles the Pope's years at the Vatican.