“The Young Pope” Gives Clear-Eyed View Of How Vatican Consolidates Power
A great TV show which shows a tyrannical new Pope lusting for power. The reviews have been really remarkable for this HBO presentation. And who does not love Jude Law?
The Young Pope is as compellingly watchable as anything else you’ll find on TV. Sorrentino intuitively understands that which makes Catholicism—with its crosscurrents of guilt and exuberant hope as well as the opulent pageantry of the Vatican—fascinating grist for storytelling. And he’s unafraid to go what seems at first too far in service of a story that finds the universal in one warped leader’s specificities.
Take, for instance, a scene in which Pius gets dressed to address his Cardinals. LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” plays, thumping and vacuous, as we see Law slowly try on his robes and his miter, adding various juicily colored rings atop his gloves. The camera eats up every bit of finery, fascinated by the pomp.
Though Sorrentino treats the subject without irony, we’re still inclined to chuckle, up until Pius is fully dressed. Then our Pope, all kitted out, stiffens his spine under his robes and orders his Cardinals to show “blind loyalty.” “Everything that was wide open,” he intones, “is gonna be closed.” That which the skeptics have feared has come to pass: Pius is proposing sweeping changes, including the end of forgiveness of sins. And yet he is so assured that they have no choice. One of the Pope’s greatest critics rises from his seat and kisses Pius’ elegantly shod foot. Led by an operator more enthralled by himself than by any work of man or God, one of the world’s greatest powers has been brought to heel. What authority does the institution have over the man who knows he’s right?