Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

We watched the WHOLE Vatican Film List

By Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Jun 27, 2023 | In Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast

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Since starting Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast in May 2020, we’ve been hosting in-depth discussions of movies from the Vatican’s 1995 list of important films. Now, after three years, we’ve finished discussing all 45 films—and in this episode, together with Catholic filmmaker Nathan Douglas, we’re taking a look back at the list as a whole.

After discussing how and why the Vatican film list (actually titled “Some Important Films”) was made, and putting it in the context of several decades of concern from the highest levels of the Vatican about the social and moral influence of cinema, we talk about our favorite and least favorite films on the Vatican’s list, as well as the movies we think should be added in a hypothetical future update of the list.

Ultimately, watching through the entire Vatican film list is not only an education in the classics of world cinema, but also gives important perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of past cinematic engagement with religion, allowing us to see both the potential fruit that could be borne and the dead ends that should be avoided in the Catholic cinema of the future.

0:00 Introduction
11:31 History behind the Vatican film list
43:34 What films should be removed from the list?
1:24:10 Our favorite films on the list
1:55:30 What films should have been included that weren’t?
2:34:09 What post-1995 films would we add?
3:00:19 The most Catholic/edifying films on the list

Links

Pope St. John Paul II’s address on the 100th birthday of cinema https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/speeches/1995/march/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19950317_plen-pccs.html

“100 Years of Cinema” document from the Pontifical Council of Social Communications with model curriculum
https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/pccs/documents/rc_pc_pccs_doc_19960101_100-cinema_en.html

Below is the 1995 list by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, “Some Important Films” (with links to our episode on each film):

Religion

Values

Art

Criteria is hosted by Thomas V. Mirus and James T. Majewski.

Thomas is Director of Podcasts for CatholicCulture.org and hosts the Catholic Culture Podcast. See full bio.

James is the Director of Customer Relations for CatholicCulture.org as well as the host and narrator for Catholic Culture Audiobooks. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: jdesiderio1032 - Jul. 02, 2023 8:50 AM ET USA

    I agree that the 1959 Ben Hur is the most “religious” and moving of all Hollywood-made films depicting the Crucifixion and the effects of God’s Grace in men of good will. Grand Illusion is actually a beautiful Christmas story wrapped within its larger anti-war theme. The Seventh Seal is a great depiction of the unpredictability of life and the need to maintain faith in the Goodness of God.

  • Posted by: Thomas V. Mirus - Jun. 28, 2023 7:21 PM ET USA

    Depends. A good number of them are on the Criterion Channel streaming service. Many others are available for rental on Apple, Prime, etc. A few of of the older films have are on YouTube in good quality (in which case we linked to it on the episode page for that film). A few, including Therese, The Gospel According to Matthew, Napoleon, and Francesco, hard to get in US (either at all or in decent-quality versions) except by piracy or importing. Email [email protected] if you need help.

  • Posted by: rlacayos2022 - Jun. 28, 2023 7:53 AM ET USA

    How is it posdible to view these films? Is there a website where we can access them? Thanks