Fatima Parent Guide
The best reason to watch this film is for the questions it raises.
Parent Movie Review
“Faith”, Sister Lucia de Jesus de dos Santos tells a visiting professor, “begins at the edges of understanding. What’s faith if not the search for truth?” Professor Nichols (played by Harvey Keitel) wants to learn more about Sister Lucia’s (Sonia Braga) role in the “miracle of Fatima”. He’s looking for truth (or to debunk Sister Lucia’s story) – and he’s not the first one to try.
In 1917, Lucia Santos (Stephanie Gil) is ten years old and is filled with awe when she sees an angel, who directs her to pray for peace. But there’s more to come. While herding sheep, Lucia and her younger cousins Jacinta and Francisco (Alejandra Howard and Jorge Lamelas), pray to the Virgin Mary, only to be astonished by a visitation from the Lady of the Rosary herself. She asks the children to return to the site every month and urges them to pray.
As word of the visitation spreads, the children are besieged by throngs of people seeking miracles. Despite their devout Catholicism, parents and clergy pressure the children to recant their story. Their concern is not just the local disruption and the children’s souls, but also their safety. Portugal has a staunchly anti-clerical government and as the children inspire fellow Catholics, the local mayor (Goran Visnjic) is ordered to bring an end to their religious activities. Fortunately, Mary has promised the children a miracle…
Fatima is clearly a movie for believers, telling the story from the children’s point of view. Devout Catholics will likely find the film faith-promoting but I’m not sure about other people of faith. Distinctive Catholic beliefs and iconography can feel unfamiliar to non-Catholics, even if they are Christians of other denominations. That said, there is considerable merit in learning more about other religions, especially from an inside perspective, and that makes Fatima worthwhile viewing for anyone who’s interested in examining miracles from a Catholic standpoint.
As expected in a religious film, there is no gratuitous negative content, but there is some plot-related violence, both war imagery, and some mildly gruesome religious scenes. Visions of hell and of future wars and assassinations are brief but might be disturbing to some viewers. I even thought that some of the movie’s more eerie moments, if set to a different soundtrack, would fit right into a horror movie (i.e. a child dreaming of a statue whispering to her and then ejecting a snake, a woman showing blood dripping from her pierced heart, visions of hell, a foretelling of children’s funerals).
Production quality is also good, avoiding the plastic-y feeling that religious movies often have, and the locations in Portugal are authentic. The child actors are a bit flat, but that’s more common than not, and not worth skipping the movie for.
Other issues aside, the best reason to watch Fatima is for the questions it raises. Do miracles happen? Why do some people receive miracles and others don’t? Do divine or saintly beings watch over humans? Why would God choose to work through small, powerless children? Why would God let people suffer when they are doing his will? And perhaps the biggest question of all – is seeing believing or is believing seeing?Directed by Marco Pontecorvo. Starring Stephanie Gil, Alejandra Howard, Marco D'Almeida. Running time: 113 minutes. Theatrical release August 27, 2020. Updated September 3, 2020
Watch the trailer for Fatima
Rating & Content Info
Why is Fatima rated PG-13? Fatima is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some strong violence and disturbing images
Violence: A child has a vision of war-related violence: soldiers are shot and are shown wounded and dying. An official reads a list of soldiers who have died. Paintings of hell are briefly seen. A snake slithers out of a statue and leaps at and hisses at a child. There is a brief discussion of crucifixion. We see blood dripping from a woman’s heart and through her clothes onto the ground. A child ties a rope tightly around her own waist in an attempt to make herself suffer. A child sees a vision of hell superimposed on wartime violence. She sees a vision of a nuclear explosion. Children have a vision of burning cities filled with wounded and dying men. Children have a vision of a future pope and clergy being shot and stabbed. Police threaten to forcibly remove people from church. A woman slaps a child repeatedly. A government official locks children in a room.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted.
Page last updated September 3, 2020
Fatima Parents' Guide
For more about the miracle that occurred at Fatima, check these sources.
The Washington Post: Our Lady of Fatima
Catholic News Agency: Everything you need to know about Fatima (Part 1)
How would you define a miracle? Do you believe in miracles? Why or why not? Do you think the events at Fatima were a miracle or do you believe there’s a scientific explanation for the events? Or do you believe that a miracle can also have a scientific explanation?
Wikipedia: Miracle of the Sun
Do you think it’s significant that the witnesses of Mary’s visits were children? Christianity has a long tradition of young people receiving remarkable visitations. Why do you think God would work through children?
For a detailed list of people, including children and youth, who have had visions of Mary, you can read here: Wikipedia: List of Marian apparitions.
The Bible also features children and young people who have encounters with the divine.
· Samuel hears the voice of God: 1 Samuel 3
· Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are miraculously saved in a fiery furnace and are visited by a heavenly being. Daniel 3:19-28
· Jeremiah: God calls Jeremiah as a prophet to warn the people of impending disaster. Jeremiah 1:4-10
· Mary: An angel appears to Mary and tells her she will be the mother of the Son of God. Luke 1:26-38
A 14 year old boy’s claims of seeing God and Jesus Christ laid the foundation for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph Smith’s story of his vision can be read here: Joseph Smith History 1:8-20
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Lucia Santos has written her own account of the visions in Fatima in Lucia’s own Words.
In Meet the Witnesses of the Miracle of the Sun, John M Haffert provides a detailed account of the events of October 13th, 1917. Through the lives of those who saw the miracle, Haffert traces the influence of the day’s events on the history of Portugal.
A scholarly approach to the miracle and its aftermath is provided in Jeffrey S Bennett’s When the Sun Danced: Myth, Miracles, and Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century Portugal.
Related home video titles:
Standing for one’s religious beliefs can require courage and sacrifice. In A Hidden Life, an Austrian farmer refuses to compromise his religious convictions and support Adolf Hitler. Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of a young Christian whose pacifist beliefs prevent him from carrying a gun, leading to his service as a battlefield medic. Sir Thomas More refuses to renounce his Catholicism to support Henry VIII in A Man for All Seasons.