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I am struggling with the superlative, but I do believe this could be the worst film I have seen in a decade (and that decade has “Pirates 2” and “Transformers 2” in it). The project was doomed from the beginning, I believe. The novel on which it is based is maybe a nice beach read, but does not have any of the substance the truly great historic epics have. It is a one-idea book, a woman becomes pope, and squeezes this idea until the eyes of the readers bleed. The filmmakers apparently believed that  all you have to do is to create some nice sets and invest in dirty medieval costumes, and success of “Name of the Rose” proportions is nigh. Nay! The film exclusively consists of sets and costumes. Whenever anybody speaks a line, it is dialogue (or, even worse, voiceover narration) of the most primitive style, structure and content. It is as if nobody who wrote that script had ever seen a film, nobody had ever heard human beings speak, as if the whole history of cinema would not exist and you could start the craft anew by arbitrarily throwing some words together. The actors cannot do anything with this, and the actually only redeemable feature about the film is not even John Goodman as pope somebody, but the knowledge that Goodman was mentally completely absent during the shoot, conjuring up the image of what he can do with the paycheck while shutting himself off to the atrocity this  production surely must have been. It is hard to speculate what would have happened had original director Volker Schloendorff not been sacked from the job, and how he would have managed to massage this material into something gritty and edgy and interesting. I do not see how, but he definitely would have been the better scrip writer himself and would not have suffered through these wooden words falling dead every single time anybody speaks… Ghastly!

And it seems the film was quickly hidden from public sight, too. No Rotten Tomatoes review yet, and only a slim Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Joan_%282009_film%29

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