Friday, January 13, 2017


Of course the young Holy Father needs to know that the hat should be red! Shish!

The Young Pope’: A Radical Conservative Rules

As much an HBO fantasy piece as Game of Thrones, The Young Pope is a novel exploration of what it might be like for Rome to name an American pope who is embodied by a British actor. The actor is Jude Law, his un-pope-ish name is Lenny, and he arrives at the Vatican with the only person he trusts in the world: a nun played by Diane Keaton.

An avowed conservative who seems also to be homophobic, the new pope confounds everyone around him — except perhaps his mentor, Cardinal Spencer, played by James Cromwell, who observes that “the young are always more extreme than the old.” Lenny — his chosen name is Pope Pius XIII — puffs on cigarettes and doesn’t mind blowing smoke at the niceties of papal decorum and traditions. His arrogance is matched only by his confidence. Will you want to watch 10 episodes about such a man? It really depends on how drawn in you are by the Vatican intrigue crafted by show creator Paolo Sorrentino, and how beguiled you are by Law’s performance.

The Young Pope looks great — the photography is lush and vivid — and I was as surprised as many of the people Pope Lenny encounters by his unpredictable behavior. But surprises, when taken in succession, are only effective for as long as surprise does not become predictable, and by the third episode, I was beginning to be a little impatient with Lenny’s curtness, his summary scolding of the church officials surrounding him. Still, Law makes the most of juicy scenes, such as a moment when he prays to God with apparent impiety, declaring that he believes only in himself, that he is omnipotent. But whenever this pope seems on the verge of going too far — whenever the show itself seems on the verge of going so far that we might abandon our interest in this character —The Young Pope pulls back and gives Lenny a scene in which he redeems himself with a moment of kindness, or a remembrance of his troubled youth, or a flash of comic relief.

Already renewed for a second season, this international production is novel programming for HBO. It’ll be interesting to see if its combination of religion and politics attracts a substantial audience.


Anonymous said...

Why is he wearing Ingrid Bergman's hat from Casablanca. The papal saturno looks nothing like that.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

As with so many shows that include Catholic elements, you wonder just who did they consult. Maybe the flashy cassock is to show the young, conservative pope's vanity? Yet vanity and conservative don't seem to go hand-in-hand but rather their would be a scrupulous following of papal ritual. I did see in the preview that His Holiness wears the tiara and looks as though he is carried in!

TJM said...

Maybe this will inspire Pope Francis to bring back the Papal Tiara!

Anonymous said...

He's like a benign version of Pope Francis.

Anonymous said...

Why when it comes to anything Catholic does Hollywood always get it wrong. I just saw a movie with a priest wearing a cassock, surplice, fiddleback with an overlay stole and this was set in the 1950's.

Look at the movie "Doubt" set in 1963. The priest wearing a polyester modern chasuble with overlay stole. No altar cards on the altar and the tabernacle veil is a pillow case with a different color than the Mass vestments which NEVER happened pre Vatican II except for funerals. And he is praying the 1963.

Look at the modern Marie Antoinette movie the bishop is wearing a cassock,no alb or rochet with a fiddleback with overlay stole UNDER a cope. I also saw an episode of SVU set in modern times with a priest wearing a cassock walking around the church at night reading a bible with a free standing altar with high altar candlesticks which were lit with a bible sitting in the middle of the altar and Gregorian chant playing. Can't they Google.

TJM said...

The last movie which portrayed Catholic liturgy and praxis accurately was "The Cardinal" around 1964/65. I recall they had clerical consultants