A new film from Ignatius Press, Our God’s Brother: The Story of St. Albert Chmielowski, is the true story of a celebrated Polish artist and painter in the 1800’s who was a major inspiration for young Karol Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II. This film captures Albert Chmielowski’s conversion as he became dissatisfied with his painting, and disillusioned about the meaning of life, when he encountered many homeless and outcast beggars in Poland that triggered his passion to help the poor. He gave up his promising painting career and became a monk who served the poor for the rest of his life. He founded a new religious community that would come to be known as the Albertine Brothers and, later, the Albertine Sisters.
This movie is based on a play written by Karol Wojtyla as a tribute to his love for St. Albert, and his inspiration for Wojtyla in discerning his own vocation to give up acting for the priesthood. When he became the Pope, he said that anyone who wanted to understand his views should study his plays, and on the topic of social justice, to study Our God’s Brother. Wojtyla described the play not as a drama but a work of “inner theater,” an attempt to penetrate the inner mystery of man. It is less driven by action than by interior monologues and intellectual dialogues that are more philosophical than psychological.
The tension in the film isn’t just between art and God. There is also the tension between the many poor and the wealthy few; between the two forms of solidarity, Christian brotherhood and Marxism. Wojtyla’s personality and philosophical views on man, faith and life are revealed through Albert’s monologues with himself and the conversations with others about the meaning of art and man.
Our God’s Brother, done in English and directed by famed Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi, has an outstanding cast that includes stars Christoph Waltz and Scott Wilson. The DVD includes a special 16-page Collector’s Booklet written by Catholic film critic Steven Greydanus.