Pope as Poet, as Seen by a Movie Director and an Actor

Artists Comment on John Paul II’s Very Personal Work

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ROME, MARCH 7, 2003 (ZENIT.orgAvvenire).- Two artists — a movie director and the first actor to recite “Roman Triptych” — analyzed John Paul II’s new book of poems.

Krzysztof Zanussi, 63, Polish movie director and personal friend of the Pope’s, was not surprised by the papal work written in Polish.

“Many great lyrical poets stopped writing when they reached middle age,” Zanussi explained. In the Pope’s case, it is “the return to poetry of an elderly man, which implies a very lyric, personal aspect full of profound feelings.”

Zanussi recalled that the book was written after John Paul II returned from his trip to Poland in last August.

“When a man of advanced age visits the places of his childhood and youth, he always lives a very sentimental experience,” he explained.

Commenting on the text, the director added: “To speak of a Pope, prisoner of the Vatican, who dreams of flowing water and streams would be a very superficial interpretation. This is about the return to the concept of the poet, spiritual guide of the nation, typical of the Poland of the past century.

“But the contents are universal, such as the tradition of the Catholic Church, which is not identified with any nation. The reference to the Sistine Chapel, patrimony of the whole of humanity, is a sign of the universality of inspiration.”

Zanussi said that for the Holy Father “it is an act of great humility to present a work of an artistic character, in which the infallibility of the Pope is not found, but he presents himself instead as a poet who can be judged like all others.”

Nando Gazzolo, the Italian actor who on Thursday recited the Pope’s verses in the Vatican press room during the official presentation, thinks that the book “is worthy of Karol Wojtyla Pope.”

“He is an artist. And this, from my point of view, makes him an even greater Pope,” Gazzolo said. “It must not be forgotten that to be able to express oneself through art is a gift of God.”

Speaking of his recitation experience, Gazzolo revealed that “there is music in the verses, but this music emerges automatically, there is no need to emphasize it in the recitation.”

“What was important was to underline the content, as it is most important in the verses written by the Pope,” he added. In fact, the actor admitted, this is the great difficulty posed by John Paul II’s poetry.

“I should read this text again at home for a long time,” Gazzolo concluded. “What is more, I am still deeply moved, as these verses really communicate much emotion. They are a very challenging test for an actor.”

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