The Shoes of the Fisherman

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The Shoes of the Fisherman
The Shoes of the Fisherman.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Howard Terpning
Directed byMichael Anderson
Produced byGeorge Englund
Screenplay byJohn Patrick
James Kennaway
Based onThe Shoes of the Fisherman 
by Morris West
StarringLaurence Olivier
Anthony Quinn
Oskar Werner
David Janssen
Vittorio De Sica
Leo McKern
John Gielgud
Music byAlex North
CinematographyErwin Hillier
Distributed byMGM
Release date(s)
  • November 14, 1968 (1968-11-14)
Running time162 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$6.7 million[1]
 
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The Shoes of the Fisherman
The Shoes of the Fisherman.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Howard Terpning
Directed byMichael Anderson
Produced byGeorge Englund
Screenplay byJohn Patrick
James Kennaway
Based onThe Shoes of the Fisherman 
by Morris West
StarringLaurence Olivier
Anthony Quinn
Oskar Werner
David Janssen
Vittorio De Sica
Leo McKern
John Gielgud
Music byAlex North
CinematographyErwin Hillier
Distributed byMGM
Release date(s)
  • November 14, 1968 (1968-11-14)
Running time162 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$6.7 million[1]

The Shoes of the Fisherman is a 1968 American drama film based on the 1963 novel of the same name by the Australian novelist Morris West. Shot in Rome, the motion picture was directed by Michael Anderson and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Plot[edit]

Set during the height of the Cold War, The Shoes of the Fisherman opens as protagonist Kiril Pavlovich Lakota (Anthony Quinn), the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lviv (or Lvov as it is spelled in the movie adaptation), is unexpectedly set free after twenty years in a Siberian labour camp by his former jailer, Piotr Ilyich Kamenev (Laurence Olivier), now the premier of the Soviet Union.

He is sent to Rome, where the elderly fictional Pope Pius XIII (John Gielgud) raises him to the cardinalate in the title of St. Athanasius. Lakota is reluctant, begging to be given "a simple mission with simple people," but the Pope insists that he kneel and receive the scarlet zucchetto that designates the rank of cardinal.

When the Pontiff suddenly collapses and dies, the process of a papal conclave begins, and Cardinal Lakota participates as one of the electors. During the sede vacante, two cardinals in particular, Cardinal Leone (Leo McKern) and Cardinal Rinaldi (Vittorio De Sica) are shown to be papabili (candidates). After seven ballots of deadlock, Lakota finds himself elected Pope as a compromise candidate (suggested by Cardinal Rinaldi) by acclamation after the Cardinals, unable to decide between the leading candidates, interview him and are impressed by his ideas and his humility. Lakota takes the name of Pope Kiril (using his baptismal name). Meanwhile, the world is on the brink of nuclear war due to a Chinese-Soviet feud made worse by a famine caused by trade restrictions brought against China by the United States.

The evening after his election, Pope Kiril, with the help of his personal aide Gelasio (Arnoldo Foà), sneaks out of the Vatican and explores the city of Rome dressed as a priest. By chance he encounters Dr. Ruth Faber, who is involved in a troubled marriage with a Rome-based television journalist, George Faber (David Janssen). Later, the Pope returns to the Soviet Union to meet privately with Kamenev and chairman Peng (Burt Kwouk) of China to discuss the ongoing crisis.

Pope Kiril realises that if the troubles in China continue, the cost would be a war that could ultimately rip the world apart. Knowing this, he must seek to convince the West as well as the Catholic Church to open up its resources to aid. At his papal coronation, Kiril removes his tiara (in a gesture of humility) and states this intent to give away a majority of Church's riches, much to the delight of the crowds in St. Peter's Square below.

A major secondary plot in the film (and the novel) is the Pope's relationship with a theologian and scientist, Father Telemond (Jean Telemond in the book, David Telemond in the film). The Pope becomes a close personal friend of Telemond (Oskar Werner). To his deep regret, in his official capacity, he must allow the Holy Office to censure Telemond for his heterodox views. To the Pope's deep grief, the shock of the censure, combined with his chronic medical problems, eventually kills Father Telemond, who has been slowly dying all this time from a cerebral aneurysm.

Cast[edit]

Notes[edit]

The project to adapt Morris West's 1963 novel was originally a project of the British director Anthony Asquith, but he became ill and was replaced by Michael Anderson.

The papal tiara used for the coronation scene in the film is modelled after Pope Paul VI's own papal tiara.

Reception[edit]

The film was the sixth most popular movie at the Australian box office in 1969.[2]

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Score and Best Art Direction (George Davis, Edward Carfagno).[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Metro-Goldwyn Omits Dividend; O' Brien Resigns: Board Cites Possible Loss Of Up to $19 Million in The Current Fiscal Year Bronfman Named Chairman Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current file) [New York, N.Y] May 27, 1969: 2.
  2. ^ "The World's Top Twenty Films." Sunday Times [London, England] September 27, 1970: 27. The Sunday Times Digital Archive. accessed April 5, 2014
  3. ^ "The Shoes of the Fisherman". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2008. 

External links[edit]