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Review: 'Fatima' Will Bring Great Comfort To Some During These Troubled Times

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Oct 13, 2020
Jorge Lamelas, Alejandra Howard and Stephanie Gil in 'Fatima'
Jorge Lamelas, Alejandra Howard and Stephanie Gil in 'Fatima'  

Based on true events that occurred in Portugal in 1917 that have since been the subject of changing folklore, how the religious drama "Fatima" will be perceived will be determined by the viewer's own beliefs. Catholics may welcome the story of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary with such open arms, where to any atheist this is just another beautifully filmed period drama.

The film tells the story of how a 10-year-old shepherd girl Lúcia dos Santos (Stephanie Gil) and her two young cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, were out in the fields tending the sheep when they were visited by an apparition. The vision told them that she had bought a message of peace, and made a point of telling the three of them to come back in the same place in exactly a month's time when she would visit them again and tell them more.

The cousins agreed between themselves to keep this event to themselves, but one of them inevitably let it slip, and it spread like wildfire around their tiny village of Fatima.

The was a particularly rough time in Portugal's history, as it had just been changed into a Republic and its leaders were anti-clerical and at odds with the powerful Catholic Church. Now, with a civil war raging, the citizens would gather once a week in the village square to hear the mayor read out a roll call of all the local men who had been killed or were missing in action.

Against this uncertainty, the story of the apparition caused great concern, and was the only thing that sort of united the new governing powers and the church hIerarchy. They were both opposed to the story — not just because the message was all about peace, but because it challenged their leadership and empowered the deeply religious population.

Most of the story is told in flashbacks by Lúcia, who is now an elderly nun (Sônia Braga) secluded in a convent and who is being visited by a history professor (Harvey Keitel). She still tells the stories of her childhood visions with the exact same details that the authorities had pressured her to recant.

Sister Lúcia recounts how, after all the initial doubts and as word of their prophecy spread, tens of thousands of religious pilgrims flocked to the site to witness what became known as the Miracle of the Sun.

Directed by an award-winning cinematographer Marco Pontecorvo (hence the stunning visuals) from a script by Valerio D'Annunzio, and Barbara Nicolosi, "Fatima" is a entertaining film that will give great comfort to some people in these tough times.

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.


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