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Film Of The Week Wenders offers hagiography

The director's undoubted cinematic achievement is lessened by his undue reverence for Pope Francis which leaves too many vital questions unanswered, writes MARIA DUARTE

Pope Francis: A Man of His Word (PG)
Directed by Wim Wenders

IN HIS five years in office Pope Francis has become known as the champion of the poor and the disenfranchised and as a man who leads by example and now you are given a unique insight into the thoughts and views of this religious leader in this eye-opening documentary.

Film-maker Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club) was given unprecedented access by the Vatican to their archives and to the Pontiff himself who, in a series of four interviews carried out over two years, speaks frankly and honestly about a wide-ranging number of issues including environmental damage, the impact of economic globalisation, poverty and the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

By using a camera with a special attachment it appears that Pope Francis is talking directly down the lens at each one of us resulting in an intimate, passionate and moving address.

Intercut with film footage of his trips abroad meeting ordinary people, prisoners (washing their feet) as well as world leaders, the documentary captures his humility, his charisma, his passion to fight to stamp out poverty, save the planet from environmental destruction and his goal for a poorer, humbler Catholic Church.

He also appears more at ease and in his element mingling with the poor and the working class.

Wenders draws a comparison between Pope Francis and his namesake Saint Francis of Assisi, a reformer, who lived in poverty and had a deep love of nature and all living creatures.

Although the Pontiff speaks about zero tolerance to paedophilia in the Catholic Church, Wenders doesn’t confront him with the lack of consequences for paedophile priests and while he, Francis, waxes lyrical about the importance of women, again he isn't challenged about the lack of female priests.

Wenders’s aim isn't to deliver a hard-hitting interview but to get Pope Francis on the record and no-one can argue with his heart-felt message which is aimed at everyone regardless of faith, race or whether you believe in God or not.

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