Context Matters: Our Review of ‘In Viaggio: The Travels of Pope Francis’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 31, 2023
Context Matters: Our Review of ‘In Viaggio: The Travels of Pope Francis’

The Film Stage’s review of Gianfranco Rosi’s In Viaggio: The Travels of Pope Francis dubbed the titular holy figure the ‘Woke’ Pope. Laugh track comes in strongly, then subsides. Let’s go with this concept though because in fairness, Rosi’s documentary deals with wokeness’ limitations. And that despite of these limitations, wokeness is mostly a good thing. Rosi’s main purpose though is to follow the Francis’ first nine years as a Pope. During those years, he travels to different countries. The most interesting stops are the ones in the Americas as it all returns to wokeness. The Pope goes to Chile, gives a nothing speech in context to the resent protests there and stumbles on a gaff.

The Pope visits Mexico, a country where massive immigration patterns and drug wars are taking place. He comes to Canada, a country with a terrible history. As Rossi follows Him, he understands that the Pope can do a world press tour and still be a mysterious figure, a man who represents God and someone no one already knows. It’s fortunate that the Pope is also a public figure, so he goes outside of his Subject and make Pope Francis work, which it does for the most part. There are times thought when this documentary teeters into terrible territory. There’s a formula here, and formulas inherently take points outside of documentaries.

Formula here is as follows. Pope goes to country, this is the worst thing to happen to country, this is how regular people in country behave, especially the ones who want to get out of there. The documentary tries to break this formula at times but this makes for a result that feels mixed. Another thing that’s conspicuous here is the lack of other perspectives. Sure, this is an apology tour, but there’s a part of me that wants to hear from the people he’s saying sorry to. Their perspectives matter, and including those other voices is a part of the healing process that the Church is trying to start.

Nonetheless, what elevates Pope Francis is its Subject’s sincerity. I almost forgot that he visited Canada. That’s until I remembered the mix of reactions he got when he apologizes for the Residential ‘schools’. Rosi’s makes the Pope’s words feel flat at times. But he compensates for it by including archive footage of, because calling them ‘schools’ is inappropriate, the camps. Archive footage is a powerful tool to show viewers who may have the audacity to deny the truth. Sometimes, the Pope’s words are effective. The documentary’s turning point was him saying ‘I said what I said’ about the Armenian genocide, which, good for him.

Watch In Viaggio: The Travels of Pope Francis at Hot Docs Cinema.

  • Release Date: 3/31/2023
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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