Pope Joan

October 22nd, 2009


Pope Joan

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John Goodman, Ian Gelder, Nicholas Woodeson, Branko Tomovic and Richard van Weyden in Pope JoanDavid Wenham and Johanna Wokalek in Pope JoanAnatole Taubman, Branko Tomovic and Richard van Weyden in Pope JoanJohanna Wokalek in Pope Joan

A 9th century woman of English extraction born in the German city of Ingelheim disguises herself as a man and rises through the Vatican ranks.

Release Year: 2009

Rating: 6.6/10 (2,669 voted)

Director: Sönke Wortmann

Stars: Johanna Wokalek, David Wenham, John Goodman

A 9th century woman of English extraction born in the German city of Ingelheim disguises herself as a man and rises through the Vatican ranks.

Writers: Donna Woolfolk Cross, Heinrich Hadding

Johanna Wokalek - Johanna von Ingelheim
David Wenham - Gerold
John Goodman - Pope Sergius
Iain Glen - Village Priest
Edward Petherbridge - Aesculapius
Anatole Taubman - Anastasius
Lotte Flack - Johanna von Ingelheim - Age 10-14
Tigerlily Hutchinson - Pope Joan - age 6-9
Jördis Triebel - Joan's mother
Oliver Cotton - Arsenius
Nicholas Woodeson - Arighis
Suzanne Bertish - Bishop Arnaldo
Richard van Weyden - Eusthasius
Branko Tomovic - Paschal
Lenn Kudrjawizki - Jordanes

Release Date: 22 October 2009

Filming Locations: Atlas Corporation Studios, Ouarzazate, Morocco

Box Office Details

Budget: €22,000,000 (estimated)

Gross: $27,412,220 (Worldwide) (8 June 2010)

Technical Specs

Runtime: Germany:

Did You Know?

Franka Potente was set to play the title character but had to leave due to scheduling conflicts shortly before filming began.

Johanna von Ingelheim: As for will, woman should be considered superior to man for Eve ate of the apple for love of knowledge and learning, but Adam ate of it merely because she asked him.

User Review

historical novel

Rating: 8/10

Although critics in my native Greece were very circumspect when valuing this movie I disagree with them. Many found that it lacked grandiose crowds in the battle and acclamation of the Pope scenes, but I think that in reality medieval battles and the assembly of Roman plebeians acclaiming the Pope must not have been particularly grandiose events and that added a quality of realism to the movie.

Also the structure of the story, the equivalent of what Germans call Bildungsroman-that is the process of the development of character through life, was presented in a very able manner, showing the evolution of Joan, a simple but charismatic country girl, to supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

The love story subplot was also good adding romance to a tale that would have been dull otherwise and proving that even scholarly girls are not immune to the pleasures of the flesh.

I have to comment on the acting of Ms Wokalek, which I found admirable in the way that it portrayed the subdued power of the character of Joan under a facade of neutral manners and also the surprise role of John Goodman who played a larger than life exuberant and kindly Pope.

The evocation of the age was also excellent avoiding excesses, and presenting the mendacity of peasant life in the villages as well as the relative luxury of the ruling classes.

Of course the main point of the story concerned the barriers that gender and class posed to a talented poor woman during that dark age. I think the story has similarities with that of Joan of Ark. The final surprise, which I will not disclose, must have been a novelistic devise relative to modern concerns about the Church invented by the author of the novel on which the movie was based and not an integral part of the Pope Joan legend as preserved through the ages.

All in all a very able movie which I greatly enjoyed. It is a pity that the response of the Greek critics was at best lukewarm.


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