Skip to comments.Gingrich's Film Project, Former Speaker Highlights John Paul II in Documentary
Posted on 06/05/2009 11:18:06 AM PDT by marshmallow
ROME, JUNE 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- An event which took place 30 years ago this week would change the world forever.
Over just nine days, from June 2-10, 1979, John Paul II made what was probably his most historic apostolic trip, a pilgrimage back to his native Poland.
He landed in communist Warsaw on the eve of Pentecost, and went on to give 37 speeches and homilies that articulated what most Poles had felt for years: that Poland was a Catholic nation, cursed with a communist state. In doing so, he unleashed a spiritual and political revolution that would eventually free Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union from the shackles of Marxist rule.
In particular, it led to Poland's communist government agreeing to recognize the legality of "Solidarność" - the "Solidarity" trade union movement. Together with the help of international political leaders and the Church, it would become the leading force in the collapse of the communist regime.
Now, 30 years on, a group of filmmakers led by the American politician Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista, are making a 90-minute documentary on that momentous papal pilgrimage. Called "Nine Days that Changed the World," and set for release in the fall, the film aims to take the viewer through those pivotal events, but also to lay out the context of the visit. The program begins with John Paul's election and goes on to make brief references to Karol Wojtyla's life, first under Nazism, then Stalinism, and his vocation to the priesthood.
Last week, as the filmmakers visited Rome to shoot footage of St. Peter's basilica, I spoke with Kevin Knoblock, the program's writer, producer and director, to find out more. The idea for the documentary, he said, came after he and the Gingriches had made a recent film on Ronald Reagan. "When doing that film, we saw the three key players in the founding of the Solidarity movement," he explained. "Reagan had a huge influence, also Thatcher, but most importantly, John Paul II."
The crew had already filmed in various places on John Paul II's 1979 pilgrimage including Krakow, Auschwitz, Czestochowa and Victory Square in Warsaw -- the location of a huge papal Mass that attracted 250,000 people.
John Paul II's famous motto -- "Be Not Afraid" -- was, Knoblock explained, not just an exhortation to be unafraid of opening one's arms to Christ, "but also to be unafraid of the changes and challenges that will come ahead -- the challenges of the Soviet regime and totalitarianism."
He recalled how nine out of 10 Poles heard or saw the Pope speak during those nine short days, and how every effort the regime made to try to prevent the pilgrimage from taking place almost comically backfired.
In its promotional material, the filmmakers say the program will show how John Paul II "helped the Poles find their courage and reclaim their culture." Moreover, they say the documentary aims to express the Pope's message that contrary to the lies of Nazism and communism, "authentic human freedom is only possible through the truth of Jesus Christ."
Such a momentous time continues to be relevant today, Knoblock said. "There's always a need to remember what can happen under authoritarian regimes, always important to remember freedom and religious freedom, and John Paul II certainly brought that to the people of Poland."
The documentary will eventually be available on DVD in English, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. For more information, visit: Nine Days that Changed the World
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If his documentary is anywhere as good as his books - we’re in for a real treat.
Why have somebody who is only very recently a Catholic, Newt Gingrich, do this project instead of somebody who has been a Catholic for their entire lives?
Considering the manner in which many big-name lifelong Catholics behave these days, what real difference does it make that Mr. Newt is a recent convert to content of the documentary of John Paul II? Are you trying to say that he will leave something out because he’s not been steeped his whole life? Mr. Newt was a historian before he was ever a politician, I would tend to think he can cover historical information with competence. His conversion may be due to his interest in the late Pope and perhaps this will make it an even better product than would have been produced by some other Catholic who also has name recognition and the money to do so.
What a wonderful project for Newt! I wish more were made to inspire and educate people in this land and all over the world! More Conservatives should take up projects like this. Things that would educate and enlighten. Just off the top of my head I could think of several projects.
1. Tea Parties in America—the reasons, the causes, the debate
2. The Story of Reagan and the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
3. The Story of our Lady of America and the Mission of Salvation and grace.
4. The Line in the Sand, the true story of the Alamo and Texas Independence.
5. The Real Charlie Chan—the Chinese detective in Hawaii and how he inspired flawed movies in the 1930s and 40s.
6. The story of the Black Airmen who fought Italian aggression in Ethiopia. The first to fight fascism.
7. The saga of 1st and 2nd Cherokee Rifles in the Civil War. How and why Native Americans fought for the south.
These are a few movie/documentry projects—maybe you can think of more?
I’m concerned that this project of Newt’s is mainly to feed Newt’s ego than just to tell a decent documentary of Pope John Paul II.
Give Newt his due, whatever his faults: Before he was a Catholic, he was still a Christian, has always been a historian of some talent, and also importantly a Cold Warrior.
John Paul the Great (along with Thatcher and Reagan) WON the Cold War by being true to themselves and the world in the belief and reality that the Soviet Bloc was a force for evil.
I think it’s a good fit.
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