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The Shoes of the Fisherman

442 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Shoes of the Fisherman, The (DVD)

A world living in fear of nuclear holocaust . . . A secret meeting totip the global balance of power . . . And one man of faith . . .With aworld poised on the brink of world war, and a humble priest installed inone of the most powerful international positions as a pawn in a plot forgeopolitical domination, can one man find the strength to bring peace tothe earth? Academy Award winner Anthony Quinn (Alexis Zorbas) stars asRussian bishop and political prisoner Kiril Lakota, who is released toRome in a Soviet bid to control the Vatican. Elected Pope Kiril, thisman surprises the Vatican, the Kremlin and the entire world by holdingto his spiritual principles tempered by winters in a Siberiangulag--despite the massive pressure on him from both global powers andthe Church that he heads, principles that lead him to make changes thatwill rock the world.


If you find during the 160-minute running time of The Shoes of the Fisherman that you don't like the plot, wait 10 minutes. It will surely change and there will be another story thread to entice you. The screenplay is literally all over the map: Siberia, where Archbishop Kiril Lakota, played splendidly by Anthony Quinn, has been exiled to a work camp in the oppressive Soviet regime; Moscow, where a genially scene-chewing Laurence Olivier plays a Soviet ruler with history with Lakota; China, where famine threatens to bring the world of the late '60s to the brink of World War III; and Rome, where Lakota travels after being freed (and where dissolute reporter David Janssen does his best to groove on the Swinging Sixties). Yet despite its flaws, the movie's central drama is riveting: the current Pope dies suddenly, and for a good bit of the film, viewers are treated to the Vatican's inner workings on the election of a new Pope. The events unfold at a leisurely pace, which allows you to drink in the spectacle and wonder of the ancient traditions. The Alex North Oscar-nominated score is lovely, and Quinn's performance is the somber-with-a-humble-twinkle glue that holds the film together. Anyone interested in the traditions and rituals of the Vatican will find plenty to savor. --A.T. Hurley

Special Features

  • Vintage featurette The Shoes of the Fisherman
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Anthony Quinn, Laurence Olivier, Oskar Werner, David Janssen, Vittorio De Sica
  • Directors: Michael Anderson
  • Writers: James Kennaway, John Patrick
  • Producers: George England
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 4, 2006
  • Run Time: 162 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (442 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E1MXT6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,855 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Shoes of the Fisherman" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 22, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This epic film has a few bumpy moments, but overall, it's vastly entertaining, with its fascinating cast, interesting premise, excellent cinematography and art direction.
Anthony Quinn is fabulous as the Russian Pope. It's a powerful portrayal, and not the type of role one would normally associate with him. Oskar Werner, in a part based on Teilhard de Chardin, is absolutely superb.
Other notable performances come from Laurence Olivier (as the Soviet Premier), John Gielgud (former Pope), Leo McKern and Vittorio de Sica (Cardinals), and Arnoldo Foa (the Pope's valet).
The part of a journalist (David Janssen), is used as a narrator, to move the plot along, and explain certain Vatican procedures, like how a new Pope is elected. I only wish less time had been spent on his petty romantic problems...the film feels more like an "Airport" movie while these scenes are taking place.
This is a sprawling 60's Hollywood treatment of Morris West's best seller, and I think it succeeds. It's thought-provoking, good for several viewings, and Quinn and Werner are riveting.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By D. Mikels on May 1, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
With the recent passing of Pope John Paul II--and the subsequent Conclave of Cardinals to select his successor--this film came to mind. Although it was years since I've seen THE SHOES OF THE FISHERMAN, I was able to view it recently, and the pageantry, tradition, and ritual of the Conclave overwhelmed and impressed me once again.

Anthony Quinn gives a remarkable performance as Father Kiril Lakota, a Russian political prisoner freed by the Kremlin and dispatched to the Vatican, where he becomes a Cardinal. Quinn's Kiril is soft-spoken and humble, yet all his years of suffering in Siberia have convinced him the Church must champion human rights--even if blood is shed for that very cause. His subtle teachings impress his fellow Cardinals, and, when the current Pope dies, after several insufficient votes during the Conclave, Kiril becomes a darkhorse candidate and is eventually selected--despite his vigorous protestations. Thus concludes the first half of this film, which was fascinating.

The second half of the movie deals with Pope Kiril's coronation and infant papacy; here, unfortunately, the film becomes a bit too farfetched. (Example: On the evening of his selection as Pope, Kiril sneaks out of the Vatican and wanders the streets of Rome. Another example: Kiril's brokerage of a "deal" between Russia and China to avoid a nuclear war.) The Cold War was certainly topical when this film was made in 1968, yet now much of the plot of the second half comes across as contrived and banal--especially Pope Kiril's speech at St. Peter's Square on the day of his coronation.

Despite these flaws, THE SHOES OF THE FISHERMAN is grand drama and allows the viewer access to the Vatican behind closed doors.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Rowe Hill on April 4, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
This 1968 movie was based on the book, The Shoes of the Fisherman, by Morris West, and stars Anthony Quinn. I saw the movie first, then read the book, which helped me understand the book, although they are quite different (Hollywood, you understand). The movie does a superb job of helping the lay person, and non-Catholics, understand the process of electing a new Pope. Quinn is excellent as Kiril Lakota, a Russian eventually elected to the Papacy after the current Pope dies (circa 1963, the time of John XXIII's death).

Lakota is imprisoned in Siberia for 20 years (17 in the book) and tormented by his jailer, Kamenev. Kamenev, who later becomes the head of the Soviet state, eventually frees Kiril Lakota. Lakota goes to Rome where finds he's been made a Cardinal. He takes his place at the Vatican among his peers. Sometime thereafter, the Pope dies and Lakota, the dark horse, is elected to the Papacy.

The viewer not only learns much about the process of electing a new Pope, but has the opportunity to see inside the physical structure of the Vatican. It is breathtakingly beautiful. There is real footage, including scenes of the crowds in St. Peter's Square awaiting word, the black/white smoke being released from the conclave after a vote, the processional after the election of Pope Kiril, among others. The viewer is privy to the internal conflicts that plague some of the Cardinals, including major characters Cardinal Leone and Cardinal Rinaldi. Each is aware that his shortcomings make him an unlikely papal candidate.

Thrown into the mix is a subplot surrounding unfaithful newsman George Faber, his wife, his mistress, and his job. Then there's the desperate world hunger situation with which the new Pope must contend.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 1, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This film is on my personal list of all-time favorites. Anthony Quinn portrays a decent, thoughtful, and forward-looking pope who eventually overcomes his own self-doubts concerning his election and coronation, which takes place within a backdrop of possible conflict between China, the USSR, and the United States. His attitude toward the young priest who assists him is refreshing in the fact that, while the priest has been barred from teaching and writing due to his questionable views, Pope Kiril still considers him a close personal friend and keeps him in his official family. Kiril's momentous decision at the end of the film regarding the role of the Church is somewhat far-fetched but nevertheless satisfying.
The detail of the sets and costumes is brilliant. The scenes featuring the conclave in the Sistine Chapel are some of my favorites, as they really show in some detail what the election of a pope is like (the rules regarding election have been changed somewhat since the film's release) I remember reading somewhere that the director asked permission to film in the real Sistine Chapel, but was refused. The walls of the Sistine Chapel set were composed largely of cardboard. I am uncertain about the accuracy of that account, but it doesn't seem too unbelievable.
The only disappointing parts of the film involve Janssen's TV commentator role. They are silly for the most part (revolving around his marital problems), and seem to serve no purpose but to set a background for the moment when his estranged wife runs into Pope Kiril, who is incognito, in the streets of Rome (you'll see what I mean when you watch the film). I've seen the film many times, and I usually fast-forward through the scenes of marital discord.
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Topic From this Discussion
This One should be on Blue Ray
Perhaps you should stop seeking answers about the Catholic Church in pop-culture fiction and try some honest to goodness scholarship instead. You don't learn anything from a movie or, in your case, movies. Both movies are fictional.

"I hoped Quinn (whom I didn't care for in this role at... Read More
Feb 18, 2013 by Henry F. Stanco |  See all 3 posts
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