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The Jewish Cardinal

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Product Details

  • Actors: Laurent Lucas, Aurélien Recoing
  • Directors: Ilan Duran Cohen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Film Movement
  • DVD Release Date: May 20, 2014
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,646 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Jewish Cardinal tells the amazing true story of Jean-Marie Lustiger, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, who maintained his cultural identity as a Jew even after converting to Catholicism and joining the priesthood. Lustiger was appointed Archbishop of Paris by Pope Jean Paul II - and found a new platform to celebrate his dual identity as a Catholic Jew. When nuns plan to build a convent within the walls of Auschwitz, Lustiger may be forced at last to choose his side.


Winner: Grand Prix to Best French TV Drama Festival de Luchon --Festival de Luchon --Festival de Luchon

Nominated Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor Festival de Monte Carlo -Festival de Monte Carlo --Festival de Monte Carlo

Official Selection Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels --International de Programmes Audiovisuels

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 41 customer reviews
It is a well acted challenging movie.
Dr Dee
Using these subtle techniques makes the film so much more powerful.
Daniel G. Lebryk
Lustiger was born Aaron Lustiger in Paris, to a Jewish family.
Grady Harp

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 16, 2014
Format: DVD
This French film with English subtitles is the true story of Jean-Marie, Cardinal Lustiger, who was born Jewish in France in 1926. After the German invasion of France in 1940 he converted to Roman Catholicism against the wishes of his parents and eventually joined the priesthood. Rising quickly in the Church hierarchy, he was eventually made an archbishop by Pope John Paul II. His dual heritage meant that some distrusted him while others saw in him an opportunity to bridge religious and cultural divides. Lustiger himself was conflicted over his role as an obedient son of the Church who remained attached to his Jewish heritage. The Jewish Cardinal is a superb film which ably depicts Lustiger's struggles.

The film begins with Lustiger's appointment as Bishop of Orleans in 1979. We see his reaction as well as those of his widowed father (his mother died in Auschwitz)and other family members as friends. There are some excellent scenes depicting Lustiger's meetings with Pope John Paul II, in which many of his inner misgivings about his role surface. These misgivings continue through the rest of the film, during which we observe Lustiger's roles in such controversies as the planned construction of a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz and the canonization of Holocaust victim Edith Stein. It is not entirely clear by the end of the film that Lustiger ever fully resolved his inner conflict, but viewers are left with a strong sense of admiration for him.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Transcendental Thomist on May 28, 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This 100-minute French film covers some key moments in the friendship of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger and Pope John Paul II, who appointed the Jewish convert-priest as archbishop of Paris and his close adviser during the 1980s. The real-life Lustiger, who converted to Catholicism at age 14 and whose entire family except for his dad was killed at Auschwitz, died in 2007.

Lustiger, a Catholic prelate who considered himself both Jewish and Christian in a vague way that sometimes offended members of both faiths, makes an intriguing subject for a film. As played by Laurent Lucas, he seethes with anti-authoritarian anger and wild energy, expertly corralled in service of John Paul II's anti-communist realpolitik. There are a few unexpectedly quirky and fun scenes in this movie, which depicts JPII as an iron-willed politician who was at the same time not above wearing white sneakers and jumping into a swimming pool he had constructed at his Castel Gandalfo vacation residence. The offbeat depiction of the Polish pontiff, suggesting the humor and spontaneity behind his public persona, is a highlight of this film as it convincingly humanizes the recently-sainted John Paul II in the early years of his papacy. Many of the fictionalized private scenes between Lustiger and JPII crackle with creative energy.

Unfortunately, the film fails to maintain that fresh vibe throughout, ending up as good rather than great because of its uneven plotting. After setting up Lustiger's rise in the church hierarchy, it settles down into a one-issue plot about the controversial presence of a Carmelite convent in Auschwitz under the Communist Polish regime, ignoring nearly all other aspects of his ecclesiastical biography.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 31, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
Directed by Ilan Duran Cohen, "The Jewish Cardinal" is based upon the life of Aaron Jean-Marie Lustiger (1926 -- 2007) who late in this film refers to himself as "God's Mixed Child". Lustiger was born Jewish but at age of 14 converted to Catholicism after a strong religious experience. He became a priest and rose in the Church when Pope John Paul II appointed him in succession Bishop of Orleans, Archbishop of Paris, and Cardinal. Lustiger enjoyed a close relationship with Pope John Paul II and advised him on many occasions on important matters.

In French with English subtitles, "The Jewish Cardinal" offers a moving portrayal of Lustiger, focusing on his difficult position, to himself and others, as "God's mixed child". The film begins with his elevation to Bishop in 1979 and proceeds forward in time with many flashbacks to Lustiger's youth. As a child, Lustiger experienced violent anti-Semitism first hand during a stay as an exchange student in Berlin in the late 1930s. Lustiger's mother had been killed at Auschwitz. His relationship with his non-religious father was strained at best. At the end of WW II, his father tried unsuccessfully to get his son's early conversion annulled. Elements of the Catholic Church opposed Lustiger's elevation. A passionate man, Lustiger describes himself many times in strongly Jewish terms as, for example, "born Jewish, and so I remain." The film also portrays him as devoted to his Catholicism and to the Church.

The movie gradually develops a focus on Lustiger's role in defusing controversy over the establishment of a convent for Carmelite nuns in the mid-1980s. Many found the convent offensive to the memory of the Jews murdered at the camp. Lustiger visited the camp and was overcome with the memory of his mother.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Luftglass-Morea on March 30, 2014
Format: DVD
Just saw this movie as part of our local Annual Jewish Film Festival. My wife and I are an interfaith family, one Jewish and one Catholic, and we were both incredibly moved by this amazing story. The acting is superb. We are so glad we got to see it and highly recommend it!
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