We Have a Pope

We Have a Pope

Michel Piccoli in WE HAVE A POPE, a film directed by Nanni Moretti. Photo Credit: Philippe Antonello. A Sundance Selects Release.

We Have a Pope (2011/2012)

Also Known As: Habemus Papam

Opened: 04/06/2012 Limited

Lincoln Plaza04/06/2012 - 06/21/201277 days
IFC Center04/06/2012 - 05/17/201242 days
The Landmark04/06/2012 - 04/26/201221 days
Kendall Square...04/13/2012 - 04/26/201214 days
Town Center 504/13/2012 - 04/26/201214 days
Playhouse 704/20/2012 - 05/10/201221 days
Fallbrook 704/27/2012 - 05/03/20127 days
Lincoln Plaza03/22/2013 - 03/28/20137 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home

Genre: Italian Comedy/Drama (Italian w/English subtitles)

Rated: Unrated


Nanni Moretti (THE SON'S ROOM, CARO DIARIO) joins forces with the great French actor Michel Piccoli (CONTEMPT, I'M GOING HOME) to tell the story of Melville, a cardinal who suddenly finds himself elected as the next Pope. Never the front runner and completely caught off guard, he panics as he's presented to the faithful in St. Peter's Square. To prevent a world wide crisis, the Vatican's spokesman calls in an unlikely psychiatrist who is neither religious or all that committed, played by Moretti, to find out what is wrong with the new Pope. As the world nervously waits outside, inside the therapist tries to find a solution. But Cardinal Melville is adamant: he does not want the job, or at least needs time to think it over. What follows is a marvelous insight into the concept of a human being existing behind the title of God's representative on Earth. WE HAVE A POPE is the latest film by Moretti to make wonderful use of humor while dealing with serious issues and continue to showcase his deep humanism.

A Conversation with Nanni Moretti

How did you get the idea for the film?

Federica Pontremoli and Francesco Piccolo and I started working on different ideas simultaneously. Then, after a while, we decided to develop the storyline of WE HAVE A POPE. There is one scene in particular which started the whole thing off for us: a newly-elected Pope who can't bring himself to appear on the balcony to greet the faithful.

Did you receive a religious education? Do you believe in God?

My parents were believers and I received a catholic education (without overdoing it). I myself am not a believer.

Clearly the film is built in two parts: some sequences focus on confinement and others on freedom. What's behind this balance and symmetry in your writing?

I wanted to blend comedy and drama in one film, the grotesque tone and the realistic one. The cardinals' conclave is from our imagination, but we respected the actual rituals and liturgies of a real conclave. The Pope escapes from the Vatican and strolls around the city where he finds himself in situations which he had not experienced for a long time. His wandering around Rome leads Melville and the audience to ask themselves certain questions. Meanwhile, the psychoanalyst remains a prisoner inside the Vatican where, after initially feeling disoriented, he ends up appearing almost at ease.

What do you think of the attacks being aimed at you nowadays?

There have been no attacks on the film itself, just a few isolated reactions which do not reflect the Catholic world.

The Catholic Church has recently survived a series of scandals and the attitude of the hierarchy has often come in for criticism. Why are these controversies absent from the film?

I try to avoid telling the public what it expects to hear. I have never been interested in reiterating through my films what the public is already aware of. I don't like sending the spectators veiled messages by dabbling in current affairs. With regard to the scandals involving the Catholic Church (for instance, paedophilia and financial matters), there are books, documentaries, newspaper articles available. I preferred not to allow myself to be conditioned by current affairs. It is a made-up story: my film is about my Vatican, my conclave, my cardinals.

Can we apply the theme of this film to the political arena?

I have given my version of a precise world, that of the Vatican. But I think the themes of the film and the anguish of the protagonist can also be applied to other situations, other worlds, and can affect members of the audience who are far removed from the characters that I show.

What is the relationship between confession in the Catholic rite and confession during a session of psychoanalysis?

I don't think they have anything in common.

Could we say that you are more critical of psychoanalysis than of the church?

In my movies I have made fun of the Left, of my generation (when I was twenty, and then thirty, and then forty...), I have made fun of the relations between parents and children, of my social milieu, of school, of the movie world, in Caro Diario I even made fun of a cancer I had twenty years ago. Therefore, I think it is only fair to make fun of psychoanalysis too.

What is the rapport between Melville, who refuses the role assigned to him, and the actor, who wants to play all the parts, including the stage directions, of The Seagull?

Does one really have to become the interpreter of oneself, of one's choices, of one's films? Sometimes it's hard for me to theorize about my work.

Why Chekhov?

While writing the screenplay, we wanted the play to be by a recognizable writer. Chekhov was the most suitable to be matched with the sentiments expressed in the film and its characters.

The producer protagonist of Il Caimano and Melville in WE HAVE A POPE both express their free will in a courageous, unexpected manner. Do you think it's right to make a connection between these two characters?

I don't see any similarities between the two characters. Maybe there is a connection in that they both show the meeting of two completely different worlds. In Il Caimano a B-film producer, who votes for Berlusconi, meets a young aspiring director who wants to debut with a film against Berlusconi. In WE HAVE A POPE, while wandering around Rome in incognito, the Pope comes into contact with people and milieus that are not part of his world. Meanwhile, a psychoanalyst, who is an atheist, gets to know the cardinals in conclave and forces them to take part in a volleyball tournament.

Does your refusal to go any further with your political activities, after your experience with the "girotondi" protest movement, correspond to Melville's refusal to become Pope?

I think it is a very forced comparison. From the very beginning of my "experience in politics" I said that I intended to go back soon to my job as a film director. I never intended to become a professional politician.

Which part of this film is autobiographical?

As usual, it's the feeling behind the film which is autobiographical. And, if we want to go into details, there is part of me in both the role of the psychoanalyst and in Melville's uncomfortable feeling of not being up to the role.