Not so much a biography of Angelo Roncalli as an attempt to evoke the aura of his life and the paths that led to his becoming the much-loved Pope John XXIII, Olmi's film uses Rod Steiger as a 'mediator'. Steiger, in other words, lends his presence as commentator, occasionally stands in for the Pope, gazes benignly at the small boy who represents the pontiff as a small boy. With Steiger reflecting a sort of conventional awe, it is perhaps small surprise that what emerges from this jigsaw portrait is pretty much a pious homage. Olmi's quirkish hand and eye as a film-maker are really evident only in the early sequences, shot in delicate colours almost like fairytale illustrations, which conjure the quaintly rustic surroundings in which the future Pope grew up.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Vincenzo Labella, Ermanno Olmi|