Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Witness to Hope - The Life of John Paul II
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on March 30, 2002
This is the best piece of film on Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) in history. It is not simply a masterpiece for it's portrayal of the Holy Father, but it is also a cinematic masterpiece. It looks good, it sounds good, and yes, IT IS good, very, very, good. I cannot talk enough about the beautiful and piercing yet gentle and quiet power of this film. Whether or not you read the book, it doesn't matter, SEE THIS FILM!
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Based on the biography by George Weigel, this is an excellent overview of Pope John Paul II's life. Weigel is interviewed extensively, as well as many who knew John Paul II in Poland, in the church, and those on the world stage who interacted with him because of his enormous influence on international affairs, like former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

The early years have a few reenactments, but are mostly shown with riveting archival footage, some of it from the horrors of the Nazi invasion of 1939, through WWII.

Then as the Nazis left, the Soviets arrived, and there is a quote saying it felt like "losing the same war twice", as Stalin's fist of iron bore down on the Polish people.

John Paul II was born in 1920 and had much tragedy as a child, losing his mother when he was 9, and his older brother three years later. Handsome and athletic (with looks that remind me of Lawrence Olivier), he was a poet and actor, worked in a quarry, and then joined an underground seminary. It is a life so full of important events, that this documentary moves fast to include them all.

There is marvelous footage of his triumphant return to Poland as pope for the first time, which spread the seeds of freedom and the Solidarity Movement of the workers in Poland. Also covered are the assassination attempt, and how his views sometimes clashed with the ideology of the secular world.

Written and directed by Judith Dwan Hallet, with narration by Rene Auberjonois, and music by Fred Karns, this is good way to quickly familiarize oneself with the life of this saintly man who was "called to a greater love".

Total running time is 2 hours.
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on June 3, 2002
Though I knew much of the story of Pope John Paul II's life this film brings it all together in a powerful and personal way. I'd recommend this for anyone. The history, the struggle for religious freedom, the perserverence by faith. This is better than 99% of what Hollywood produces, yet a true story and an inspiration for us all.
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on April 5, 2006
This is absolutely the BEST biography out there on John Paul II. Unlike those by A & E or NBC or the like, it is simply based on the facts. Many of the other "biographies" have sections in them based on the agenda of the filmmaker. Usually taking the position of admonishment against the Pope for not being a liberal American. This one is just the opposite. It deals with John Paul II with no agenda other than to give a close and intimate portrait of the man. It is well produced and documented. I have seen hours and hours of documentaries on the late Pontiff and I would recommend this as the best.
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on June 15, 2005
I saw this on PBS recently about 2 months after Pope John Paul's death. It one of the best documantaries I've ever seen. Re-enactments can appear cheesy if not done well, but the re-enactments of the Pope's early life were done very well, done in a classy manner. It is a well put together documentary that does not seem 2 hours long because you are so riveted to it. John Paul had (and still has) an appeal that spans all faiths, ages and cultures, and his life is inspirational. Everyone should take a look at his life. You will see why he was important to modern history and the world. You do not have to be a catholic to "get it." The words "be not afraid" are words we can all live by!
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on April 8, 2005
I bought this video when a few years ago (not this new edition, but when it came out earlier) after seeing part of the program aired on a Catholic television station. I can't recommend it highly enough. This is a great price too, I payed over $25 plus shipping for a VHS version! My version runs almost two hours long and is great for learning more about the Pope's life.
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on December 6, 2002
This is an inspiring story of perseverance in the face of adversity. Tells the story of Carol Wojtyla as a poet, intellectual, philosopher, actor, revolutionary, etc. This story is one of passion for life and love for others. It is excellent. I highly recommend this as a feel good inspirational piece whether you are catholic or not.
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on April 7, 2005
This is the adaption of George Wiegel's monumental biography of Pope John Paul II. If you are looking for a well produced documentary on the life of Pope John Paul the Great, then get a hold of this DVD.
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on August 4, 2005
The great, true biography of the great man. As his fellow polish, I watched the movie and felt as I was back home. I was 8 years old when Karol Wojtyla was elected Pope and he was the Greatest Pole I have ever known. The movie shows the terror of nazi war and the communism - the real times of my parents and grandparents. John Paul II thru his love to God and to all human race, tried to build better world - against the all odds and great critisism.

I will always miss him. Rest in peace Lolek!
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on June 3, 2005
This particular video-bio is especially touching. George Weigel, writer of the book with the same title, does an amazing job with the information that he gathered. Touching, even humorous stories of the young Karol Wojtyla light up the video as well. From his birth in 1920 until before his death, the video highlights all major events in John Paul's life and his environment. I have been a long-time follower of Pope John Paul II, his writings, speeches and life in general. This video captures the essence of the delicate, humble, yet complex man that the world came to know for 26 years. I highly reccommend this for anyone who wishes to learn more about Karol Wojtyla, or who wants to further their collections of his life and works.
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