FATIMA – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Throughout the Catholic world, the Portuguese town of Fátima is renowned for the Blessed Virgin’s miraculous appearance to three young shepherds in 1917. A small farming district at the time, it became internationally famous for the prophecies these three children claimed to have received making it a revered religious site visited by some six million pilgrims annually.
As a good Catholic girl, I grew up watching the 1952 film The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima on TV. I was inspired by the faith of these kids. This powerful new film of the historical events that happened in Portugal goes deeper into the facts. This film about ten-year-old shepherd girl Lucia Santos (Stephanie Gil), and her much younger cousins Francisco Marto (Jorge Lamelas) and Jacinta Marto (Alejandra Howard) shows us how courageous they were as well.
At the time, the world was caught up in World War I and even though it had not reached their small country, their young men were dying in the fighting. Portugal’s government was trying to step away from the reign of superstition and the church embracing a more science-based view of things. In fact, at the time, churches were being closed in Spain and Portugal, while priests were being hung in effigy.
So, you can imagine what happens when these kids report visions of the Virgin Mary (Joana Ribeiro), who tells them that only prayer and suffering will bring an end to World War I. Also, telling them that she will visit them once a month at the same place, at the same time, over the next six months. Well, the quiet life in the village is forever changed. Being the oldest one of the children, Lucia is bullied the most for what they are all saying, especially by her mother, Maria Rosa (Lucia Moniz). The latter tells her to stop telling lies. But the Lady (what the children call the Virgin Mary) warns the children that they will have to suffer much to help bring faith to the people as the Holy Mother points them to Christ. The children are persecuted as the government leader of Fátima, Artur (Goran Visnjic), and church leaders try to force them to recant their story. Word of the sighting spreads across the country. Inspiring religious pilgrims to flock to the site in hopes of witnessing a miracle. What they experience will transform their quiet lives and bring the attention of a world yearning for peace. All of this is based on real-life documented events, including what happened in the end.
One of the producers of Fatima, James T. Volk, when asked why he and his partner Dick Lyles would want to retell this story, is quoted as saying: “We had found a narrative that was perfectly aligned with both our company’s mission and with events unfolding around the world.” He and his partner founded Origin Entertainment intending to make transformative entertainment that inspires audiences to create a better world. Volk went on to say, “When I heard about the events at Fátima, I was blown away, I thought everyone should know about it. Many people who grew up Catholic know this story, but someone like me, who grew up in Evangelical churches, is unlikely to be aware of it. This story can be a universal bridge between people of all faiths. The innocence of these three kids helped spread a message of peace and hope to an entire generation. Perhaps it can do that again today.”
This new telling of the Fatima story has a great international cast. Also, I love how they used an interview between Professor Nichols (Harvey Keitel) and a now old nun Sister Lucia (Sonia Braga), to argue the finer points of the events. The Professor is writing a book trying to explain away scientifically what happened in Fatima, while Sister Lucia is trying to convert him as she shares what she experienced. Also, the film has some lush cinematography surrounding these young children from this countryside town. Fatima is a beautiful movie of faith and a world longing for peace. With a touching song by Paolo Buonvino and Andrea Bocelli called Gratia Plena playing as the credits roll and pictures of the real people and events scroll by.
I give Fatima a 4.5-star rating. It’s a beautiful movie about faith and miracles worth seeing.
Directed by: Marco Pontecorvo
Written by: Valerio D’Annunzio, Barbara Nicolosi, Marco Pontecorvo
Selig Rating 4.5 Stars
Running Time: 113min
Drama / Historical
Limited Release & VOD: August 28th, Cinergy Granbury, B&B Wylie 12, Texas Movie Bistro 8, Alamo Drafthouse North Richland Hills Studio Movie Grill Tyler
Starring: Stephanie Gil, Harvey Keitel, Goran Visnjic, Sonia Braga, Joana Ribeiro, Alejandra Howard, Jorge Lamelas
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.