• in8spirit

FATIMA (2020)

A Call to Faith in Love Beyond Doubt Presence is the most important aspect for me when watching any Christian movie. Is there an Inspired quality despite the human filters? Can I feel Christ’s love? While it is truly my choice what I experience—whether I recommend a movie as “helpful” or not, these are my considerations. Love Sarah

This story of three little shepherds from the rural town of Fatima in Portugal is blessed with a visionary writer/director who is also a cinematographer. Marco Pontecorvo gently leads us through this historical account of a miracle that inspired millions of Catholic pilgrimages to venerate a Marion shrine. His telling focuses on the joy and subsequent conflict felt by the children as they faced the doubt and shame of their parents. While composer Paolo Buonvino’s intimate score draws us deep into the mystical simplicity of receiving your Calling.

All circumstances are truly perfect for those who desire to Listen. The backdrop of World War I, and the rise of communism in mainland Europe heightens one of the movies main themes; the disparity between the practical application of experience versus blindly adhering to any theology or ideology. As education and social empowerment swept Portugal in 1917, ignorance and religious devotion had became synonymous. Learning to read and write became the leaders call to avoid manipulation by institutions and yet this rapid change was leaving the poor marginalized and estranged from their faith at the time they needed it the most. A whole generation of men were being slain—fighting on a front for an ideal rather than in direct defense of their homeland. They wanted to “come home” but shame and growing governmental secularism had become rampant, and attempts at “peaceful coexistence” were dividing the people.

Suddenly everyday activities were being policed in an attempt to maintain order and the appearance of co-operation. Into this cauldron of confusion and control comes Christ’s Messenger, ten-year-old Lucia; a good daughter to her educated mother and hard-working father, loyal sister to her brother Manuel at the front, and devoted shepherdess to her small flock of sheep.

Obedient and willing to do what would save her brother, Lucia joins her Mother in a proactive atonement campaign of solemnity to convince God to save him. Simultaneously this sincere little girl is receiving prophetic visions and visitations from Heaven calling her to be Christ’s witness for Peace through devotion to Our Blessed Lady.

The conflict is quickly revealed not as a division between church and state, but between rote learning of any system versus inspiration and direct experience. No one believes Lucia except the two small companions by her side when Mary, Jesus’ Mother first appears. Visible to one but deaf to the other (due to lack of prayer) this trio of little saints in the making out-pictures our common response to supernatural experience; the joy of release combined with the fear of specialness.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein

When the Children are merely relaying what they have been told they are unselfconscious and glowing. As the doubt creeps in about what they have shared, the fear of displeasing their parents, church authorities and even local government weighs heavy on their exuberance. Lucia attempts a self-imposed penance and mortification of the flesh. The belief that we could hurt those we love by speaking the truth is deeply ingrained in our belief in sacrifice. The visitor from heaven asks her not to hurt herself, and her father attempts to protect her in her confusion.