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Pius XII: Under the Roman Sky

4.5 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Based on Vatican documents and personal testimonies used for the beatification of Pope Pius XII, this epic film stars acclaimed actor James Cromwell in a powerful movie about the great, often hidden struggle waged by the Pope and many others with him to save the Jews from the Nazis during WWII. After the Nazi's take over Rome in 1943, Hitler's plan to kidnap the Pope is revealed as the Nazis make an all-out attempt to silence the one authority figure in Italy standing strong against them. Everything comes together with great intensity in this dramatic story that retraces history from the documents and the testimonies of witnesses that was not fully known til now. Hitler and the Pope - on one side the man who catapulted the whole world into war and, on the other, the man who, more than any other, fought for peace. Despite all his efforts, Pius XII is not able to prevent some of the horrors that take place in Rome when over a thousand victims are deported to Auschwitz. But history testifies that over 10,000 Jews were saved, hidden in churches and convents in Rome - more saved than in any other occupied city. Even among the Nazi officers were those who opposed such savagery and, thus, under the Roman sky, both the saved and the lost, the victims and the executioners, shout the Pope's cry with their lives: Nothing is lost with peace. Everything may be lost by war. Starring James Cromwell, Alessandra Mastronardi, Marco Froschi, Ettore Bassi, and directed by Christian Duguay (Restless Heart, Joan of Arc). DVD includes a deluxe 16 page companion Collector's booklet.

This DVD contains the following language options: English with English and Spanish subtitles.


Product Details

  • Actors: James Cromwell, Alessandra Mastronardi, Marco Froschi, Ettore Bassi
  • Directors: Christian Duguay
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Ignatius Press
  • DVD Release Date: April 10, 2013
  • Run Time: 200 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00BYCOIWE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,615 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

This is an epic film that tries in a most sincere way to lay to rest the controversies surrounding the war time role of Pope Pius XII, based on Vatican documents and personal testimonies currently being utilized for the beatification of this extraordinary man of God.

This movie has 2 parts. The first part begins with the Pope in his study. He sees a section of Rome being bombed and along with his entourage, taking with him supplies, he rushes to the scene of the incident to comfort the victims.It is followed by the Armistice of 1943 where by the Italy leaves the Axis. The citizens of Rome falsely believe that the war has come to an end. However this sets the precedent for the Nazi occupation of Rome. The Jewish community until then, lives in relative safety and here we meet the characters of Miriam and Davide, two twenty somethings who are long time friends and who secretly share a love for each other. The first part primarily is spent on the political situation in occupied Rome as well as the lives of these two people and their family.
In Part II, the Nazi occupation begins and we begin to see the actual role the pontiff plays to ensure the safety of the Jewish community by opening up the convents, monasteries and churches to shelter the refugees and getting a Nazi general to collaborate with the Vatican so as to protect these peoples whom are being sheltered.Also depicted is the elaborate plan that the Nazis had to kidnap the Pope.
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I have really mixed feelings about this film. On one hand, I really loved it for every time James Cromwell is on the screen as His Holiness Pope Pius XII it felt like I was watching Pope Pius. Moreover, there were many subtle references to his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, such as praying the Rosary on a regular basis and even praying the Hail Holy Queen prayer, which is great since he declared the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in 1950. And even the secondary plot was effective, although it seemed to eventually carry more weight in the film by Part 2 and focused less on Pope Pius despite his name being in the title of the film.

However, my biggest problem with this film is that failed to address the extensive effort that Pope Pius XII made to save the Jews. Granted it showed it on the local level in Rome and briefly alluded to many convents, monasteries, and parishes in Rome that sheltered the Jews, but Pius' efforts went beyond Rome and the film never addressed the Church's efforts to save the Jews on a broader scale and helped numerous Jews immigrate to safe countries outside of Europe. Seeing that the film was over three hours long it should have shown this or at least had an epilogue that mentioned this before the credits. The numbers vary on exactly how many Jews Pope Pius and the Church as a whole saved from the Nazi Holocaust, but many statistics show that he saved as many if not even more Jews that Oscar Shindler did, and yet Shindler is remembered as a hero (and rightfully so) but a black legend now exists that makes people believe that Pope Pius worked with Hitler instead of against him in WWII.

This film refers to Pope Pius' many statements and even an encyclical he wrote where he blasted the Nazis. This was really awesome!
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Finally setting the record straight on Pius XII. The revisionist history proprogated by the Soviets on PiusVII is rampant today when history was actually very different, at Pius' funeral Isreal sent the largest delegation and the New York Times twice on December 25th 1941 and 1942 editorial section claimed The Pope Sands alone in his opposition to Hitler people can look that up for themselves and see it with their own two eyes.
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I loved the movie! it was great! touches your heart to see how the Catholics helped save so many Jews that where living in Rome. I can see this movie over and over because Italians are great when producing catholic movies.
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I enjoyed this film very much. It was informative and I suggest anyone who enjoys history should view this DVD. It also sheds some light on the issue of Pope Pius XII role during the holocoust.
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This was an entertaining drama though I feel mislead by the title.

In over 3 hours, Pius XII is actually seen on screen in what seemed like less than a third of the entire movie. This was a disappointment and the reason I docked this otherwise fine drama by a star.

As another reviewer indicated the central story here is chiefly a love story. There are two Jewish young adults and a few other characters during the persecution whom they interact with that are the main focus of the movie. This fills up the majority of the screen time. Then every once in a while as if the director was reminded of the movie's title, there are also some scenes with the Pope in scattered Vatican scenes once in a while.

We learn little about the Pope's background. Also little of his actual historical actions and not much of the scope of those actions. It was only after reading the insert booklet that came with the DVD after watching the entire movie that I learned that Pope Pius XII actually saved over 40,000 Jews in Italy. I did not learn that from this movie which shows us only a very small subset of those saved apparently so that we get to know them and empathize with drama the smaller cast of characters.

Though I enjoyed this movie for the one viewing, its interest for repeated viewings once seen is low as I already know the central love story now as well as their hardships and the Pope is not a major part of the movie as I had first expected. So I docked it a second star as I will likely not be watching this movie again.
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