Videos on Release

From a Far Country (Pope John Paul II)

The docudrama, “From a Far Country (Pope John Paul II),” was first released in 1981, just three years after Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow became Pope John Paul II. Now available on video, it's a curious film. At the time it was made, Poland was still a communist country, and the Pope a relatively unknown man. But the film-makers received permission to film in Poland as they sought to tell the story of the future Pope in conjunction with the fictionalized stories of several people who knew him as a young man. In the 18 years that have passed since the docudrama's release, enormous changes have taken place in Poland, many of them the direct result of John Paul's influence. These historical developments change the film's impact considerably. Now, it's not so much an argument against tyranny as an exploration of Karol Wojtyla's dramatic life up until the moment he became Pope and left behind his beloved country of Poland for the world.

Rescuers: Stories of Courage: Two Women

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, this video presents two segments from Showtime's “Rescuers: Stories of Courage,” a series based on Rescuers: Stories of Moral Courage in the Holocaust by Gay Block and Malka Drucker. The first segment, “Mamusha,” stars Elizabeth Perkins as Gertruda, the Catholic governess in a wealthy Jewish family living in Warsaw. When the Germans invade Poland, Gertruda flees to Vilna with her 3-year-old charge, Mickey, and his mother, Lydia (Nicky Guadagni). After Lydia dies, Gertruda hides Mickey from the Nazis and helps incarcerated Jews. The second segment, “Woman on a Bicycle,” tells the story of Marie-Rose (Sela Ward), a young woman who works in the secretariat of the bishop of Montauban (Fritz Weaver) in southern France. When the bishop helps French Jews, Marie-Rose aids him, despite extreme danger. Both of the women highlighted in these two stories are seemingly ordinary people. But through a mixture of personal courage, their Catholic faith and a clear sense of justice they find the strength to face down fear.

Fairy Tale: A True Story

In 1917, in the midst of World War I, 10-year-old Frances (Elizabeth Earl) and her cousin, Elsie (Florence Hoath), took several photographs that shocked the world. The girls said their pictures showed real fairies, who lived near them in Cottingley, West Yorkshire. The local media were the first to grab the story, but it soon went international when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Peter O'Toole) saw the photographs. The creator of Sherlock Holmes had spent decades trying to determine if the spiritual world existed. Sir Arthur wanted to know if his dead son was living “beyond.” He viewed the photos as evidence of that reality. Opposing him was Harry Houdini (Harvey Keitel), the great magician, who believed the pictures were fraudulent. Neither man, nor anyone else, could determine the truth for decades. Fairy Tale: A True Story recounts this story in a magical realistic style, thus replicating the quandary that once gripped the world. It also asks intriguing questions about the intersection of truth, fraudulence, reason and faith.

Rating: adults and adolescents (U.S. Catholic Conference)

Loretta G. Seyer