Monday, July 08, 2002

The Scarlet and The Black

The Scarlet and the Black is one of my favourite movies and I love every seconds of it. This made for TV movie is far better than many extravagant Nazi Holocaust movies. What makes "The Scarlet and the Black" different? I would say it’s the true spirit of human virtue that triumph in this true story which leaves you exuberant rather than haunt your dreams with grim images of suffering and brutality depicted in many Holocaust movies.

Based on J. P. Gallagher's book "The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican", this movie tells the story of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, a real life Catholic priest who saved thousands of Jews and Allied POWs from the Nazi occupied Rome.

In 1943, German occupied Rome witnessed many atrocities of Gestapo under the ruthless commander Colonel Herbert Kappler. . Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, an Irish priest assigned to Vatican under the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, organizes an enormous network of courageous civilians to save Jewish refugees and allied POWs from Nazis, right under the nose of the Colonel Kappler. Yes, the Scarlet Pimpernel style rescues – O’Flaherty was a master of disguise, he’ll transform himself into anything he can impersonate, including a Gestapo officer and a nun!

Colonel Kappler is not dim-witted; eventually he learns about Monsignor O'Flaherty's personal missions and decided to respond the Gestapo way. His keen pursuit on capturing the priest red handed soon became an obsession. The cat and mouse game ensues, only the mouse is too brilliant for the cat. Later as the Allies are about to enter Rome, the tables are turned. The hunter became the hunted. Now the ruthless Nazi commander wanted to save his wife and son and the only ray of hope he can envision of is none other than his nemesis Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty!
The Scarlet and The black is a magnificent and compelling with an inspirational tale of moral courage, human spirit, sacrifice, compassion, forgiveness and altruism. This movie is what I consider as Gregory Peck’s magnum opus. As Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, Peck is absolutely convincing and proves to the world that he is a towering genius of an actor. Christopher Plummer is also dazzling in his portrayal of the ruthless Nazi commander. John Gielgud makes a believable Pope Pius XII.

What was Catholic Church’s stand during the reign of Nazis? The question seems sidestepped in the movie by focusing the courage of the courageous priest. However, there are mentions of the Church's neutrality and the potential risks of working against the German occupation. The movie is not explicitly religious but more like a study in human character and moral courage. The climax is inspiring and makes all those great fictional climaxes far behind especially when you consider it's a true story. You will never be able to forget the experience of watching this spectacular drama and the triumph of human spirit. As a true story, The Scarlet and the Black is an exhilarating icon of moral courage. Don’t ever miss this giant of a film.


The Scarlet and the Black
Also known as The Vatican Pimpernel
Director: Jerry London
Cast: Gregory Peck, Christopher Plummer, Sir John Gielgud, Raf Vallone, Kenneth Colley
Country: USA / UK / Italy
Language: English / German / Italian
Colour: Colour
Runtime: 143 min
Cyril’s Rating: Excellent

2 Comments:

Blogger marcella0810 said...

I'm trying to find out who did the narration at the end of the film, the voice sounds so familiar but I just cant place it. Any ideas?

12:50 PM  
Blogger Cyril said...

Don't know but I will let you know when I find out...Didn't think about it...have to find the disc again :)

7:53 AM  

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