Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Our God's Brother (Ignatius Press)

St. Albert Chmielowski was born in August 1845 in Poland near Krakow. His given name was Adam. His parents died at an early age, leaving his father's sister to care for them. During his education he studied engineering, but he also became interested in politics. During his youth, he fought in the nationalist uprising, and it was here that his life was changed forever. While participating in a battle in 1863, a grenade detonated near him, killing his horse and injuring his leg so severely that amputation was needed. After this, he became a popular painter for his use of religious themes in his artwork. He later gave that up too to enter the Jesuits, but ultimately he became a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis. He was beatified in 1983 and canonized six years later, both by Pope John Paul II. In 1949, when Pope John Paul was still Karol Wojtyla, he wrote a play about his life called Our God's Brother. This was adapted to film in 1997 and his been released in DVD format by Ignatius Press this year.

The DVD begins by showing people arriving to the play. We are then taken backstage where we see actors backstage preparing for the play. Presented in a documentary-like format, the actors are putting on their makeup and introducing us to the roles they are playing. They speak not only of who the people are and their possible significance, but also about Karol Wotjyla. The actors also cite actual words of Brother Albert too. We then dive into the drama of the film. It actually starts off pretty gruesome. As mentioned above, Brother Albert was damaged in battle. We see the wound and the leg being sawed off. (Not suitable for the faint of heart) We also see scenes from his early life at home, but this narrow focus eventually broadens into the surroundings and world around him. The play ends with the Brother Albert actor walking off stage and delivering a closing monologue speaking on the subject of John Paul II and the canonization of Brother Albert. In keeping with the spirit of this work, the DVD is not a movie, but a play, so you have to watch it with that in mind. It definitely provided a unique experience and taught me a lot about a saint I knew nothing about. I highly recommend it.

This DVD was provided to me for free by Ignatius Press in exchange for an honest review.