The Two Popes Parent Guide
A profound character study, "The Two Popes" also comes with inspiring messages of forgiveness, hope, and appreciating people with different perspectives.
Parent Movie Review
“Any journey, no matter how glorious, can start with a mistake.” These words of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) neatly sum up his life. Haunted by his misguided attempt to protect Argentina’s Jesuit Order during the country’s Dirty War in the 1970s, Bergoglio has devoted his ministry to caring for the poor and marginalized. Frustrated by what he sees as a Catholic hierarchy that prioritizes condemning sexual behavior over denouncing oppressive political and economic systems, Bergoglio flies to Rome to request Pope Benedict XVI’s (Anthony Hopkins) approval for his resignation.
The Pope has struggles of his own. After lobbying for his election in 2005, the aging pontiff is struggling with the burdens of his office. Nicknamed “God’s rottweiler” for his determination to protect the institutional church and the purity of its doctrine, Benedict no longer feels the presence of his Lord. Desiring to retire from the papacy, Benedict feels the need to discuss the challenges facing the church and relieve himself of the burdens of the past.
The Two Popes is a brilliant character study of two wildly different men – the affable, gregarious Argentinian and the self-contained, literal-minded German. Jonathan Pryce dazzles with a deeply emotional performance, ably portraying Bergoglio’s humility, dedication, simplicity, and warm humor. And Anthony Hopkins becomes the aging Benedict, struggling with the physical realities of age, his guilt over the clerical abuse scandal, his spiritual drought, and his continued desire to maintain what he sees as the non-negotiable doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.
Moviegoers who enjoy character dramas will be enthralled by this production. Anyone looking for action should remember that both men are senior citizens and the only excitement here is the occasional raised voice. The real conflict driving the story is the tension between different world views and conceptions of God, mercy, and faith. Viewers who enjoy diving into deeper issues will find much to think about here.
The film contains mild content issues, mainly sanitized violence relating to human rights abuses perpetrated by Argentina’s military dictatorship. The minor negative content is far overshadowed by the positive messages that permeate the movie. The account of Bergoglio’s spiritual journey is one of forgiveness (of self and others), repentance, redemption, service, hope, and compassion. This movie also reminds us that even people who hold strongly opposing views can come to respect and appreciate one another, even working together as Benedict XVI cedes his place to Francis. And that’s a message that needs to move beyond the Vatican and into the larger world.Directed by Fernando Meirelles. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce. Running time: 125 minutes. Theatrical release December 20, 2019. Updated January 23, 2020
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The Two Popes
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Two Popes rated PG-13? The Two Popes is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic content and some disturbing violent images
Violence: There are violent scenes from Argentina’s Dirty War. Soldiers round up and shoot priests. There is mention of people disappearing after being apprehended by soldiers or police. Priests are dragged into police cars. There is mention of torture, specifically, breaking prisoners’ hands. People are shown contorted in cells. Live prisoners are bound and thrown out of airplanes and into the ocean.
Sexual Content: Characters mention the sexual abuse of children by clergy; no detail.
Profanity: This movie contains one term of deity, one mild profanity, and one crude term.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Main characters drink small amounts of alcohol, usually with meals.
Page last updated January 23, 2020
The Two Popes Parents' Guide
What do you know about the two popes in this movie?
Encyclopedia Britannica: Benedict XVI
Biography.com: Why Did Pope Benedict XVI Resign?
Wikipedia: Pope Francis
The New York Times: Pope Francis May Not Change the World. But He Is Reshaping the Church.
The Washington Post: Pope Benedict, in retired seclusion, looms in the opposition to Pope Francis
Vanity Fair: Pope Vs. Pope, How Francis and Benedict’s Simmering Conflict Could Split the Catholic Church
The Economist: A Tale of Two Popes
Do you know how a new pope is chosen?
BBC News: Conclave: How cardinals elect a Pope
The papacy has an interesting and sometimes wild history. For more about the men who have led the Roman Catholic Church, click on the following articles.
The Guardian: Every Pope ever: the full list
Catholic.org: The History of Popes
Religion.com: History of the Papacy
Whoever sits in St. Peter’s seat, he faces great challenges in steering the Catholic Church. What do you think the Pope should do to resolve the issues outlined in the following articles?
Sexual Abuse Scandal
Future Church: Priest Shortage at a Glance
Debate.org: Should priests be allowed to marry?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
For Pope Benedict’s perspective on faith, read The Essential Pope Benedict XVI: His Central Writings and Speeches edited by John F Thornton and Susan B Varenne.
Paul Badde’s Benedict Up Close: The Inside Story of Eight Dramatic Years tells the story of Benedict XVI’s pontificate. For a more extensive biography, check out Elio Guerriero’s Benedict XVI: His Life and Thought.
Insightful biographies on Pope Francis include Austen Ivereigh’s The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, Paul Vallely’s Pope Francis: The Struggle for the Soul of Catholicism and John Allen’s The Francis Miracle: Inside the Transformation of the Pope and the Church.
To read Pope Francis’ own words, try The Name of God is Mercy. Another of the pontiff’s many books is The Joy of Discipleship: Reflections from Pope Francis on Walking with Christ.
Related home video titles:
For another look at religious vocation, families can watch Mother Teresa. Starring Olivia Hussey, this story tells the story of her call to serve the poorest of the poor in India.
If you want to learn more about where the popes live and work, you an check out the documentary, Inside the Vatican.
In A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More remains loyal to the Pope at the cost of his life. A Hidden Life tells the story of Franz Jagerstatter, who insists that obeying the church’s command to be loyal to Austria and its Nazi overlords is a betrayal of his Christian beliefs. In Luther, a 16th century monk is so incensed by papal corruption that he posts his argument on the door of a local church, igniting a string of events that tear the Catholic Church apart.