I have been to Poland 15 times...

The interview was made by Wieslaw Adamik

The first part of the film called 'Karol. A Man Who Became Pope', concerning the years 1939-78 from the hero's life, was received with great interest by Polish viewers (200,000 people saw the film when it was first screened) and the critical reviews of the film were also very good. They stressed that the Italian director Giacomo Battiato made a very Polish work. Undoubtedly, the director liked his hero very much since he decided to continue his story. Giacomo Battiato and Pietro Valsecchi, the producer, are working on the second episode in Italy. The first scenes will be shot in Rome in September and the film is likely be to finished in Poland in October. Gian Franco Svidercoschi, author of the book entitled 'Stories of Karol: The Unknown Life of John Paul II', told us about the details of the planned episode:
The screenplay is ready. In the second episode, beside John Paul II, an important figure will be Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the papal secretary in the years 1978-2005. He is one of the people who can say 'My Pope' since he was with the Holy Father in his adult life and held his hand on the deathbed. We may as well look at Karol Wojtyla through the eyes of Archbishop Dziwisz. In my opinion he is a very interesting figure. We know little about him. His presence by the side of John Paul II was underestimated. We could see many times how he helped John Paul II carry the burden of his illness and supported him at the moments of his great physical weakness. I have known Archbishop Dziwisz for several dozen years. I was mostly surprised by what I saw in Poland in 1979, during the first pilgrimage of John Paul II to his homeland. The Pope asked me then what struck me most during that pilgrimage. He might have thought that I would tell him about Blonia, Krakow or the museum in Oswiecim. But I was astonished by the crowds of students who stood with crosses in Warsaw. I stood with them and I understood that Poland would change because the young people would change it. John Paul II always counted on the youth since he saw in them the future of the world.
I have already been to Poland 15 times.
In 1981, together with Fr Stanislaw Dziwisz I watched the film 'From A Distant Country' directed by Krzysztof Zanussi. However, it seemed to me that Zanussi did not know many details of Karol Wojtyla's youth and he could not show much because of the situation in the country. I saw the film 'Karol. A Man Who Became Pope' by Giacomo Battiato together with Archbishop Dziwisz when it was first screened in the Vatican. The Archbishop liked the film very much. The film did not show certain details faithfully but its message was very clear.
I wrote my book 'Stories of Karol: The Unknown Life of John Paul II' for 18 years, and it was the basis of the screenplay for the film by Battiato. I think that the film does not fully depict the historical truth; the book is far more faithful. Describing the stories of Fr Wojtyla I realised that at the same time one could relate the story of the Holocaust. The film managed to do it well. We can see what the tragedy of Holocaust brought far more and better than in such films as 'Schindler's List' or 'The Pianist'.
In the second part of the film Fr Wojtyla, as a bishop, meets his Jewish schoolmate Jurek Kluger. These two people have not been in touch for a long time. They meet, break barriers. If we show important events of Karol Wojtyla's life we will also let young people get to know the story of this man.
I am wondering how the film 'Karol. A Man Who Became Pope' is going to influence the memory of John Paul II and his teaching. In Italy young people at the age of 10-30 who watched our movie were fascinated by the person of John Paul II and all things connected with him, the historical events and his experiences.
In the second episode Archbishop Dziwisz will certainly play a significant role. We intend to show the Pope from the point of view of this man as if from inside (Krakow actor Andrzej Deskur will play this role - W. Adamik). I congratulated Malgosia Bela on her role since she played Hania excellently. She has so expressive face and eyes that cry before they begin crying. She is an excellent actress. The moving story of Hania will return because one of the scenes will show the Pope welcoming her and her family in an audience in the Vatican. Hania survived but many of the Jewish school friends from Wadowice were killed, for example Wislawa (played by Patrycja Soliman) and Fr Tomasz Zalewski (excellent role of the Italian actor Raoul Bovy).
Pope John Paul II was to see the film, but fate decided otherwise. Many millions in the world used to say 'My Pope'. Hundreds of thousands who stood in line and came to him set a precedent, something new in the history of the Church. Our task is to understand what happened in those days. And certainly a film can help us do it.

"Niedziela" 28/2005

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl