Parents' Guide to

Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Fond docu has some images of real-world suffering.

Movie PG 2018 96 minutes
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 12+

An OK movie for older tweens

This movie was very interesting but it has some intense scenes of suffering. This made me cry and it has some moments of strong life-issues. Maybe this movie could have been better... but it has strong messages about being brave! PG-13: some intense life-situation and violence.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
age 18+

Children shouldn't be exposed to religious propaganda

Children should NOT be exposed to religious propaganda, however subtle it may seem.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (3):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Pope Francis is a fascinating subject and an engaging speaker, but the film's lack of context slightly dims the brightness of its star. It's understandable that the documentary wouldn't seek to raise him up by lowering those who came before him; it seems unlikely that Francis himself would approve of that approach, and Vatican Media is a partner in Pope Francis: A Man of His Word. However, one of the primary threads of his tapestry is how he has broken from the Church's previous teachings in important areas. This is a pope who embraces science and other faiths, who has statistics at the ready to back his views, who isn't shy about sometimes urging political action. The only one of his "maverick" positions that's given significant time is his rejection of the luxuries of his office and criticism of any church's preoccupation with wealth. That's fortunate, as it seems to be a central theme of his St. Francis of Assisi-inspired life. Beyond that, though, there's not really any background. Bergoglio is shown addressing a crowd in 1999, but there's no other pre-pope footage of him, no interviews with those who knew him before, no commentary from him on his life before the clergy. So though we gain some intellectual insight into his strongly humanistic (rather than dogmatic) views, we're kept at arm's length from the man himself. While that approach allows admiration of his intelligence and conviction, it prohibits a deeper connection.

Director Wim Wenders, perhaps best known for intimate narrative films such as Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire, has also made highly praised documentaries such as Buena Vista Social Club. Here, he's perhaps too much in reverence of his subject, as demonstrated by his narration. That lack of journalistic rigor makes the film less compelling than it could have been. What emerges is an incomplete portrait that feels a bit too friendly and scrubbed but does offer viewers some up-close time with one of the most powerfully humanistic figures of our day.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: May 18, 2018
  • On DVD or streaming: December 4, 2018
  • Director: Wim Wenders
  • Studio: Focus Features
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Topics: Great Boy Role Models
  • Run time: 96 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG
  • MPAA explanation: thematic material including images of suffering
  • Last updated: March 29, 2023

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