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Koch Vision presents
Pope John Paul II: His Life and Legacy (2004)

"When people talk about politics, they often say morality and politics are not compatible. I think the Pope shows the compatibility of politics and moral values."
- Mikhail Gorbachev

Review By: Nate Meyers   
Published: May 06, 2005

Stars: Pope John Paul II
Other Stars: Pope John Paul II, Bill Blakemore, Michael Hornblow, Oscar Cardinal Rodriguez, Scott Appleby, Gian Franco Svidercoschi, Thomas Reese, Margaret Steinfels, Halina Bortnowska, Keith Pecklers, Adam Michnik, Mikhail Gorbachev, Marek Skwarnoicki, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Father Adam Bonieck, Lech Walesa, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, Maria Bobrownick, Danuta Michalowska, Mieczyslaw Malinski, Gilbert Levine, Richard Sipe, Mary Grant, David Gibson, Eugene Kennedy, Chester Gillis, Ehud Barak
Director: Uncredited

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:49m:28s
Release Date: September 07, 2004
UPC: 741952628095
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

As a Catholic, I see Pope John Paul II as more than just a man. Truly, he is a saint and will be remembered as John Paul the Great in time. Considering my tremendous reverence of this man, I have to admit a bias when reviewing Pope John Paul II: His Life and Legacy. As an ABC News special, it's an acceptable hour-long program and gives as vivid a portrait of the Pope that it can when considering its target audience and length.

Featuring a variety of interviews with U.S. citizens, Polish nationals, and some noted Vatican scholars (among others), this special report by Bill Blakemore paints a fairly positive view of John Paul's reign, highlighting his role in the fall of the USSR. However, the people involved largely misunderstand not only the man, but also the Catholic Church as a whole. To be sure, the decline in men entering into the priesthood is reason for alarm and became largely accentuated during the past quarter century, but I'm not convinced issues such as contraception, women clergy, and abortion are of great concern to the rest of the world. Moreover, the priest sex abuse scandals, which created a noticeable uproar in America, did not shake the Vatican to its core, no matter what the U.S. media says. But judging by this American-made program, featuring inane comments by Margaret Steinfels (editor of Commonweal), you'd think every faithful Catholic around the world is pounding on the door of the papal apartment.

I can forgive the documentary its subversive focus, because Americans have made it for Americans who are not necessarily Catholic, and the vast majority of American Catholics tend to be far more materialistic than those in, say, Latin America. Pope John Paul II: His Life and Legacy is a news program first and foremost, but I had hoped for a comprehensive biography. It covers some of the basics of his life that most will be familiar with by now, such as his whole family dying by the time he was 21. It even manages to make good use of archival footage featuring his meeting with the Communist prime minister of Poland, Wojciech Jaruzelski, during the solidarity movement against Moscow's occupation. These are the highlights of an otherwise average news report.

But in the end, Blakemore's reporting is afraid to tread into the spirituality of Pope John Paul II, which is the key to understanding both his life and legacy.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1.33:1 image is fairly dull, with lots of artifacting throughout. It seems that this is largely due to the archival videotape used to tell the story of John Paul II's life.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Stereo 2.0 mix is fairly lifeless, but when played in Pro Logic the musical score can be heard in the surround speakers. Additionally, the scenes containing large crowds also utilize the rear-channel. However, I didn't notice any sound separation or directionality.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Unknown
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Three brief ABC News featurettes are also included on this DVD. The Papal Election (01m:14s) is a short interview with Father Donald Whirl, who was in the conclave when Karol Wojtyla was elected pope. The Papal Apartments (03m:39s) is an interesting but brief tour of John Paul's apartment, giving an idea of the Pope's daily routine. The final featurette, Inside the Vatican (01m:55s) shows a few shots of locations within the Vatican normally not seen by the public. Each featurette is interesting, but too brief.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

For those completely unaware of Pope John Paul II's life, this DVD may serve as a stepping-stone for a greater investigation. However, I recommend spending your money and time reading one of the many biographies about the man.


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