In a mixture of religion, history and architecture, Lost road of the Popes is an interesting journey through the lives of six Popes trying to restore the catholic faith in the 16th century. It is the untold story of the most profound urban and religious restoration in the history of Europe, and the characters who participated in it.

The film is a well-researched and tasteful representation of history, ensuring its cohesive and interesting format will fill in any gaps you may have about Rome and Catholicism. In fact, you will witness how beautiful monuments and churches that helped glorify and restore the Catholic faith were built.

The main focus of the movie is the Via Papale, the road of the Popes, and how it became so influential in the survival of Catholicism. This was the road connecting the Vatican to the Lateran basilicas, and is mostly unknown to modern romans.

 

Inspired by this Holy Road and the Popes who transited it in the days of the Roman Empire, six different Popes in different lifetimes vowed to restore it, erecting some of the most beautiful buildings, designed by masters like Michelangelo, Bernini and others.

Historical experts and beautiful shots are involved in an artistic way

Each Pope had his own agenda, allegiances, problems and fortunes, but they all had in common the desire to rebuild the ceremonial papal route through the center of the Eternal City. Nevertheless, this is not a sensationalist film. The narrative and the interviews make Lost Road of the Popes one of the most respectful depictions of the roman Catholicism ever made.

The ingredients for a masterpiece are there: beautiful shots in high definition, interviews with passionate historical and religious experts, and a powerful score help tell the history of how this road rose to glory and fell from it. Even the use of special effects was gorgeously left to a minimum, ensuring that the focus is set on the buildings and the people.

Even though this movie is targeted to Catholics and catholic organization, the well-built artistic nature of the film makes it a perfect opportunity for those who appreciate art and architecture. The domes of Rome, columns, frescoes and paints of the city will appeal to those who are interested in how architecture and urbanism can have an impact on politics and history.

Via Papale, as explained by one of the interview subjects, does not only translate to a physical road on which the Popes traveled. It is an intangible route inspiring others to do greater things for their faith and their people. It is the way to not only become, but to be a Pope. It might mean a way to build and create; to live on.

The Lost road of the Popes unfolds the miracle of the restoration of Rome and its Papal rules, and their survival until modern days thanks to magnificent buildings. It is the victory of beauty and faith over obsolescence. It also helps us understand why that once powerful road has been forgotten, overshadowed by modernization until it was unmarked from modern maps.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, renowned catholic writer, once said that “The test of a good religion is whether you can joke about it.” Judging by the first few episodes, The Young Pope was not designed as a funny test, except for the viewer´s patience.

Lenny Belardo, played by Jude Law, has become the youngest pope in the history of the Catholic Church, bringing an ultraconservative perspective to the Vatican, rather than a new order. The central idea of the show is the conflict between the new pope, Pius XIII, and everyone else who doesn´t understand or like him, in a Church were conspiracy is the order of the day.

For the cardinals, Pius XIII is, superficially, novel. However, his belief turned out to be conservative, almost medieval, shrouded by his Cherry Coke addiction and his pop culture references.

On the other hand, for the new Pope, the church has become way too tolerant. Its ecumenical nature has made the organization weak, forgetting that is the people, the faithful, who should come to them, not the other way around. He is not a bridge, but a drawbridge, pulling itself up against anything contrary to its beliefs.

This is depicted in his first public address as a Pope, where the crowd is shocked to hear, instead of the usual warm greeting, a terrifying, tyrannical speech in St. Peter´s Square. “I don´t know if you deserve me.” He raves at the people, stablishing a wall between his church and those who, in his opinion, call themselves Catholics, but “have forgotten God”.

A terrifying villain, with an endless capacity to surprise it wasn´t long before the show was taken as a parallelism to what many think Donald Trump will do with his “supreme powers”. Pope Pius XIII is secretive, and believes that no common rules apply to him. He is opposed to public appearances, homophobic and a nepotist. In a scene, he even confess to a priest that he doesn´t believe in God.

Ironically, Sister Mary, a loyal and caring nun played Diane Keaton, thinks of Pius XIII as a saint, blessed by God in a mission to restore the church. The other do not think as highly as her, however, finding in the Pope a dangerous force vowed to destroy the stablished order of the Church. Pius is as unpredictable as can be.

Is he a fanatic or a nonbeliever? Saint or Antichrist? He appears to be all these things, being mysterious and isolated at times, and terribly honest at others.

While it may appear at a glance that The Young Pope depicts a funny look to the unexpected and compelling tension between a young, tyrannical Pope Pius and the Catholic Church, what we really get is nothing but a masterfully constructed exercise in cynicism.

However, and this is the main problem, unlike other distasteful depictions of organized religions, The Young Pope is a bleak, depressing glimpse at Hollywood´s expected misunderstanding of faith, disguised as an attempt to give out a modern look on religions with underdeveloped characters other than the Pope.

As much as Hollywood manages to get some genres right, there is one they tend to fail. Religion and faith seem to escape the artistic grasp of the movie industry, turning any attempt to capture the beauty of a belief into preachy, pathetic films. However, when done correctly, a sacred theme can make a movie as compelling as a secular one. Here are our choices for the best 5 religious themed films of all times.

 

5. The gospel according to St. Mathew

This masterpiece achieved to capture the essence of the story of Christ with great respect, reverence and taste. The beautiful movie by Paolo Passolini uses elements of neo-realism to transmit a moving look at Jesus life, from nativity to resurrection, through the acting of almost unknown actors. The anachronistic look this film gets from the art of different eras makes it a truly unique experience worth to watch and share.

 

4. The Last temptation of Christ

Martin Scorsese always said he wanted to direct a movie about Christ since he was a kid, and The last Temptation of Christ is no doubt his badge of honor. This movie was heavily condemned, even before it was released, but its strong message cannot be denied.

Its final act shows us a hallucinating Christ, saved from the cross by an angel, and given the chance to have a normal life as a man. The movie is a heavy, personal look about doubt, faith and conviction through the eyes of Jesus.

 

3. The Rapture

Directed by Michael Tolkin, this drama centers around a swinger: born again in Christ after learning about the rapture. The movie succeed to brilliantly catch Biblical revelations in everyday life. Although with chilling results, the story of a woman trying to prepare herself and her family for the End of Days depicted in The Rapture, is a complex look to humanity, guilt and faith, free of the banalities most religious movies use in their approach.

 

2. The passion of Joan of Arc

Despise being a silent movie, The passion of Joan of Arc is a masterpiece, innovative even beyond its genre. The film heavily relies in closely framed shots of faces to capture the emotive nature of the trials of the famous martyr. Lead actress Renee Jeanne Falconetti shines in her play of Joan of Arc, radiating the character´s faith off the screen.

 

1. King of Kings (1927)

Cecil B. DeMille´s greatest achievement, King of Kings, is a monumental effort to capture the last days in the life of Christ. It also is true moviemaking at its most basic, artistic form, free of overshadowing themes or symbolism. The “King of the Biblical Epic” builds a solid movie through biblical excerpts, marvelous camera angles and great acting.

This movie excels at its picturization of the story of Jesus, especially at it biggest scene, the Crucifixion. The acting of the cast tells the story with all the reverence they can muster and H.B. Warner as Jesus lends a quiet, sober dignity to the film.