Thanks to a post by on series and movies dealing with medieval Europe, I first heard of the movie adaptation and the book it is based on. I was instantly intrigued; a female pope? That I got to see, I thought. And I was not disappointed.
It’s just the thing I like in my literature – an intelligent, competent heroine with enough likeable and unlikeable characters to spice things up. I’m utterly baffled how I didn’t know of this book before, so I’m doubly glad for seeing the movie adaptation.The movie is wonderfully shot, with a detailed look into the everyday life of both peasantry and nobility. I liked the authentic feel of the scenes, the harsh reality of woman’s worth and place back then, the living conditions and the mentality of scholars. The makers of the movie don’t shy away from the more gruesome aspects of the times, the high death-toll, poverty, disease and abuse. The look into gender inequality is especially brutal.Johanna, the future pope, is a likeable character and one I can easily sympathise with. She’s a bright girl who doesn’t agree with her father’s view that girls and women don’t need education. This view is the predominant one in that era, but there are plenty of men in this story who support Johanna. It’s sad though that the majority felt that women need to bow to authority, whether it’s a husband’s, a father’s or priest’s doesn’t matter. What Johanna’s father doesn’t understand is the very word of God he’s preaching. It’s clear that he is the only one who is abusing his family in the village, but people are too afraid of fighting him since he threatens with fire and brimstone at every opportunity. You know the drill – disobedience is a sin and a priest a direct line to God. In essence – don’t mess with the clergy. It’s a wonder that Johanna still believes in the Bible; but then she does have a deeper understanding of the work and the underlying message: Love.
Even though the romance was low-key most of the time, I could feel the conflict Johanna feels. It was understated, but always present in her life. She was used to hiding her gender, but at the same time she longed for freedom of this deception deep inside. She would have been far happier had the pope business never happened. Yes, count Gerold would let her live her life as she wished to, but the society in general would frown upon them.
I don’t wish to spoil the movie for those as unfamiliar with the book as I was, so I’ll not delve deeper into the plot and characters. There is one more thing I need to say though: there will be several familiar faces in the movie. The first one is actress Johanna Wokalek (Joan), David Wenham (Count Gerold) which I know for his portrayal of Faramir, and John Goodman (Pope Sergius II). They all did a wonderful job and I could forget about other roles I’ve seen them in because they lived the characters here.
I recommend this movie to all of you. 😀Trailer: