Award Winning “John Paul II” to be Shown as Full Feature

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SOUTHFIELD — In cooperation with the Vatican, “Pope John Paul II”, starring Jon Voight will showcase free of charge at the AMC Star Southfield-20 Theater, Sunday, October 30th, at 3:00 PM. Seating is first come-first served and the theater is located at 25333 W. 12 Mile Road, West of Telegraph, Southfield, MI 48034.

The film has been edited into a three hour full-feature motion picture taken from the CBS mini-series which premiered in 2005. There will be a 15-minute intermission. For his portrayal as the pontiff, Voight received critical acclaim and got an Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie category. The film has superb production values and has an incredible big budget look to it.

Voight played the older John Paul II from 1978, when he was elected pope, until his death in April, 2005. Cary Elwes played the younger Karol “Lolek” Wojtyla, who was born and raised in Poland and lived under Nazi occupation as a young man. The movie depicts Wojtyla’s incredible life as priest, appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow and election as the first non-Italian pontiff in 455 years.

John Paul II movie Jon Voight Swiss still.
John Paul II movie Jon Voight Swiss still.

“Pope John Paul II” also stars Ben Gazzara, James Cromwell, and Christopher Lee. The bio-pic was shot on location in Krakow, Poland and in Rome Italy. There were some great access shots filmed in St. Peter’s Square and the Sistine Chapel. Shown also are some cloistered areas of the Vatican not open to the public. In addition, script consultation was supplemented by Vatican historians.

During promotion for the film, Voight said the movie gave him the opportunity to bring to the screen John Paul’s complex nature. John Paul was “gifted in many, many arenas.”

“It was wonderful to understand enough about those areas to be able to put a focus on them – protecting his sense of humor, protecting his emotional presence, his toughness,” Voight said.

Born in Yonkers, New York, Voight now 78, first gained widespread attention and received a Golden Globe Award for his 1969 role in the controversial movie “Midnight Cowboy.” His storied career got a big boost in 1978 when he won the best actor Oscar Award for his performance in “Coming Home”. He portrayed a complicated and conflicted Vietnam veteran. He got critical acclaim for his performances in the action-thriller, “Runaway Train” and “Ali” in which he played famed sports announcer Howard Cosell.

John Paul II movie, Ben Gazarra.
John Paul II movie, Ben Gazarra

In this epic rendition, the tireless Pope goes throughout the world advocating faith and hope. Other important script moments take the observer through important milestones in John Paul’s 26-year pontificate. The viewer experiences the Great Jubilee of 2000 and John Paul’s promise of taking the Church into the New Millennium. We share the journey to Israel as he attempts to fill the understanding gap between the Christians and Jews. Voight is marvelous as he shows John Paul baring his cross of physical weakness and frailty with humility. It is a riveting performance.

Veteran Euro actor, Wenanty Nosul, plays Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz. Nosul showcases the strong bond that Dziwisz had with the pontiff originating from cold-war Krakow in 1966. Dziwisz served as John Paul’s personal secretary for 39 years. Dziwisz remained in this position until Wojtyła’s death in 2005. This is the only deficiency in the undertaking as this element could have been developed more.

Elwes is very believable as the young adult Karol Wojtyla growing up in Poland during the advances of Nazi Germany. The film shows that the future Pope was strongly influenced by his father and the priests he came in contact with. The early story portrays how incredibly creative he was and how varied his interests were. Director, John Kent Harrison, documents Wojtyla’s passion about education, philosophy, drama, literature, and athletics. Furthermore, the variety of his many friends helps kindle his lifelong quest for helping the poor and demanding human dignity for the disenfranchised.

This motion picture will generate plenty of reminiscing for the viewer, especially for those that were touched by St. John Paul II during his 1987 Detroit visit. Nostalgia will reinforce the pontiff’s resilient and eternal messages of hope, peace and reconciliation. It is a powerful film.

Lorrie Peck will emcee an introduction at 2:50 PM.

For more information [email protected]

John Paul II movie John Voight poster.
John Paul II movie John Voight poster.

Raymond Rolak is a veteran sports broadcaster who writes on a range of sporting events, plus automotive and aviation topics of interest.