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Pope John Paul II 

Following the premature death of his mother, Karol Wojtyla is brought up by his father in the Polish city of Krakow during the first half of the 20th century. An outstanding student with a ... See full summary »

On Disc

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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »




Series cast summary:
Christopher Lee ...  Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski 2 episodes, 2005
Ben Gazzara ...  Cardinal Agostino Casaroli 2 episodes, 2005
Daniele Pecci Daniele Pecci ...  Roman 2 episodes, 2005
Vittoria Belvedere ...  Eva 2 episodes, 2005
Giuliano Gemma ...  Navarro Valls 2 episodes, 2005
Ettore Bassi Ettore Bassi ...  Gapa 2 episodes, 2005
Wenanty Nosul ...  Stanislaw Dziwisz 2 episodes, 2005
Stefano Molinari Stefano Molinari ...  SS Officer 2 episodes, 2005
Valéria Cavalli ...  Teresa 2 episodes, 2005
Bartosz Glogowski Bartosz Glogowski ...  SS Officer 2 episodes, 2005
Chiara Conti Chiara Conti ...  Anna 2 episodes, 2005
Alessandro Demcenko Alessandro Demcenko ...  First Young Doctor 2 episodes, 2005
Bianca Nappi Bianca Nappi ...  Vittoria 2 episodes, 2005
Giulietta Revel ...  Halina 2 episodes, 2005
Giovanna Nodari Giovanna Nodari ...  Nurse 2 episodes, 2005
Fabrizio Bucci Fabrizio Bucci ...  Krysztof Zachuta 2 episodes, 2005
Beata Ben Ammar Beata Ben Ammar ...  Beate 2 episodes, 2005
Luca Capuano Luca Capuano ...  Jeep Clerk #1 2 episodes, 2005
Andy Luotto Andy Luotto ...  Homeless Man 2 episodes, 2005
Luca Di Prospero Luca Di Prospero ...  Jeep Clerk #2 2 episodes, 2005
Marcin Kuzminski Marcin Kuzminski ...  Mikal 2 episodes, 2005
Allan Caister Pearce Allan Caister Pearce ...  Neurologist 2 episodes, 2005
Robert Gonera ...  Tadeusz 2 episodes, 2005
Maurizio Di Carmine ...  Older Doctor 2 episodes, 2005
Maciej Marczewski ...  Marek 2 episodes, 2005
Michael Fitzpatrick Michael Fitzpatrick ...  Orthopedic Surgeon 2 episodes, 2005
Krzysztof Pieczynski ...  Czerny 2 episodes, 2005
Stefano Venturi Stefano Venturi ...  Parish Priest 2 episodes, 2005
Christopher Good ...  Cardinal Konig 2 episodes, 2005
Guido Roncalli Guido Roncalli ...  Pope's Doctor 2 episodes, 2005
Michele Alhaique ...  Young Waiter 2 episodes, 2005
Krzysztof Janczar ...  Dobry 2 episodes, 2005
Giampiero Rotoli ...  Second Young Doctor 2 episodes, 2005
Juliusz Chrzastowski Juliusz Chrzastowski ...  Jerzy 2 episodes, 2005
Giorgia Porchetti Giorgia Porchetti ...  Woman 2 episodes, 2005
Carlo Sabatini Carlo Sabatini ...  Master of Ceremonies 2 episodes, 2005
Mariusz Sibiga Mariusz Sibiga ...  Dashkov 2 episodes, 2005
Jean Paul Buana Jean Paul Buana ...  African Journalist 2 episodes, 2005
Jacek Lenartowicz ...  Lech Walesa 2 episodes, 2005
Marcus J. Cotterell Marcus J. Cotterell ...  American Journalist 2 episodes, 2005
Giacomo Piperno Giacomo Piperno ...  Cardinal Felici 2 episodes, 2005
Fabrizio Rogano Fabrizio Rogano ...  British Journalist 2 episodes, 2005
Mikolaj Grabowski Mikolaj Grabowski ...  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger 2 episodes, 2005
Wlodzimierz Chrenkoff Wlodzimierz Chrenkoff ...  Communist Sec. Officer 2 episodes, 2005
Paolo Paolini Paolo Paolini ...  Cardinal Villot 2 episodes, 2005
Dimitri Tamarov Dimitri Tamarov ...  Elderly Cardinal 2 episodes, 2005
Vanni Corbellini Vanni Corbellini ...  Cynical Journalist 2 episodes, 2005
Sergio Nicolai Sergio Nicolai ...  First Cardinal 2 episodes, 2005
Francis Pardeilhan ...  Engineer 2 episodes, 2005
Luis Molteni Luis Molteni ...  Second Cardinal 2 episodes, 2005
Carla Verolo Carla Verolo ...  Eva's Mother 2 episodes, 2005
Roberto Nobile ...  Third Cardinal 2 episodes, 2005
Tadeusz Bradecki ...  Father Kozlowski 2 episodes, 2005
Andrzej Blumenfeld ...  Gierek Edward 2 episodes, 2005
Luca Lombardi Luca Lombardi ...  French Journalist 2 episodes, 2005
Robert Mazurkiewicz Robert Mazurkiewicz ...  Captain 2 episodes, 2005
Edward Zentana Edward Zentana ...  Gestapo Officer 2 episodes, 2005
Pietro Sarubbi ...  José Lopez Portillo 2 episodes, 2005
Zaneta Babik Zaneta Babik ...  Little Girl 2 episodes, 2005
Nicola Pistoia Nicola Pistoia ...  Cardinal De Furstenberg 2 episodes, 2005
Lidia Duda ...  Little Girl's Mother 2 episodes, 2005
Ronald Dudley Grant Ronald Dudley Grant ...  African Cardinal 2 episodes, 2005
Adrian Ochalik Adrian Ochalik ...  Lukash 2 episodes, 2005
Andrzej Zarnecki ...  Prof. Kriek 2 episodes, 2005
Alessandro Zamattio Alessandro Zamattio ...  Gestapo Officer 2 episodes, 2005
Harald Posch ...  Hans Frank 2 episodes, 2005
Mariapia Cassarino Mariapia Cassarino ...  Tyranowski 2 episodes, 2005
Slawomir Sosnierz ...  Older Nun 2 episodes, 2005
Alicja Bienicewicz Alicja Bienicewicz ...  Older Nun 2 episodes, 2005
Ewa Zytkiewicz Ewa Zytkiewicz ...  Andrei Gromyko 2 episodes, 2005
Cyrus Elias Cyrus Elias ...  Polish Man 2 episodes, 2005
Maria Bosco Maria Bosco ...  Sister Lucia 2 episodes, 2005
Dominik Nowak Dominik Nowak ...  Crucitti 2 episodes, 2005
Giulio Base ...  Pope Paul VI 2 episodes, 2005
Michele Gammino ...  Leonid Brezhnev 2 episodes, 2005
Eddie Roberts Eddie Roberts ...  SB Roberts 2 episodes, 2005
Slawomir Zapala ...  Seminarian Wiktor Loga / ... 2 episodes, 2005
Fabrizio Jovine ...  Yuri Andropov 2 episodes, 2005
Elisabetta Tucci Elisabetta Tucci ...  Sister Katerina 2 episodes, 2005
Andrzej Szopa Andrzej Szopa ...  Mikhail Gorbachev 2 episodes, 2005
Claudio Spadaro ...  Soviet Leader 2 episodes, 2005
Bruce McGuire ...  US Embassy Official 2 episodes, 2005
Ennio Tozzi Ennio Tozzi ...  Theatre Director 2 episodes, 2005
Agneska Popkiewicz Agneska Popkiewicz ...  Screaming Woman 2 episodes, 2005
Wojciech Leonowicz Wojciech Leonowicz ...  Edmund 2 episodes, 2005
Krzys Kremieniecki Krzys Kremieniecki ...  Young Boy 12 Yrs Old 2 episodes, 2005
Izabela Kuna ...  Emilia Wojtylowa 2 episodes, 2005
James Cromwell ...  Cardinal Adam Sapieha 2 episodes, 2005
Cary Elwes ...  Young Karol Wojtyla 2 episodes, 2005
Karlos Granada ...  Spanish Journalist 2 episodes, 2005
Jon Voight ...  Karol Wojtyla / ... 2 episodes, 2005


Following the premature death of his mother, Karol Wojtyla is brought up by his father in the Polish city of Krakow during the first half of the 20th century. An outstanding student with a magnetic personality, he dreams of becoming an actor. When his homeland is invaded by the Nazis in 1939, he and his friends secretly oppose the systematic persecution of their Polish culture. But, with the death of his father and the lacerating solitude which accompanies this loss, Karol's personal "resistance" takes on a new form and he decides to follow a priestly vocation. At the end of the war, Poland falls into the grip of Soviet totalitarianism. The newly ordained Karol is constantly surrounded by young people whom he teaches to safeguard and defend human dignity. He could be considered a serious threat to the regime, but the Communist authorities merely see him as an innocuous intellectual and even encourage his nomination for the position of bishop. Karol Wojtila is the youngest bishop in ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The faith to inspire millions begins with the power of one.


Biography | Drama


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Official Sites:

CBS [United States]


Italy | Poland | USA



Release Date:

4 December 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Vida de João Paulo II See more »

Filming Locations:

Italy See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

PLN 3,250,463 (Poland), 5 March 2006, Limited Release
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (theatrical) | (2 parts) | (4 episodes)

Sound Mix:



Color (Augustus)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Sir Ian Holm was originally cast for the role of Pope John Paul II, but left for personal reasons. See more »


When the newly-elected Pope John Paul II is changing into his white papal cassock, the actor playing the pope switches between Cary Elwes and Jon Voight several times between shots (most likely this scene was filmed twice, once with Elwes and once with Voight, and the scenes were then edited together). See more »

Alternate Versions

The theatrical version of the movie shown in Polish cinemas in 2006 is 60 minutes shorter than the original television cut and is not divided into two parts. The dialogs are dubbed by some popular Polish actors and all opening and final credits are printed in Polish. The final credits are accompanied with a song performed by Polish highlanders during John Paul II's visit to Zakopane in 1997. See more »

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User Reviews

Great watch!
8 December 2005 | by povblogmaster-vivificatSee all my reviews

Folks, last night I watched the second and last part of CBS's biopic on Pope John Paul the Great, and as far as I'm concerned, of the three papal biopics I've seen this year, this one is the best, and the most faithful to the late Pope's life.

So far, this is the only biopic that has respected the order of events in Pope John Paul's life. There was good attention to detail: the conclave scene is faithful down in terms of place and ceremony. You may clearly see the cardinals' seats in the Sistine Chapel, as well as the three-cardinal committee that counted the ballots, everything, including the cry of "extra omnes" ("everyone out") preceding the start of the election, was authentic. The ABC's biopic that aired last Thursday rendition of the same moment seemed oversimplified and rushed in comparison.

The real strength of the movie lies in its cast. Cary Elwes played the younger Karol Wojtyla in the movie's first part and I have to say that at times, and from certain angles, he closely resembled the young Wojtyla. But the thing I liked the most is that he projected an *inner joy* and peace that was captivating. Wojtyla was no sourpuss and Elwes "got it right." The only thing that appeared inauthentic is that when he portrayed the late pope's quarry days during the Nazi occupation, he too seemed chubby and well-fed as compared to pictures Wojtyla in pictures taken at the time. The Nazi diet in Poland was not the best fare and it showed in Wojtyla even on his first photos as a priest. Apparently, Elwes hesitated to go into a drastic diet to change his looks so drastically for this role. I can't say I blame him.

For John Voight, this was an Emmy-worthy performance. It helped that Voight resembled the Pope physically, sharing the same square, strong jaw as John Paul. The way Voight captured Pope John Paul's accent and baritone voice was at times pretty scary, so much so that I wonder how much of his lines were lip-synced to existing audio tracks of the late Pope. Voight's countenance when he opened the Holy Doors for the Year 2000 Jubilee so uncannily resembled John Paul's that I had to blink a couple of times to ensure that I was watching Voight and not John Paul. Therefore, kudos and congrats go too to CBS's makeup department for such an outstanding job. Maybe there's an Emmy here for them too.

Voight captured John Paul's physical suffering so much so that it was inspiring. I bet that is not easy to capture a face paralyzed by Parkinson's disease, but Voight did it, down to the trickle of saliva off the side of his mouth at the reenactment of the Pope's last public appearance.

Secondary characters: James Cromwell played Cardinal Adam Sapieha, Wojtyla's first mentor and Archbishop of Krakow during WWII. You might remember from roles as the robot developer and inventor in _I, Robot_ and as the warp drive inventor, Zefram Cochrane in _Star Trek: First Contact_. He did well in this movie.

Christopher Lee played Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski of Warsaw, Wojtyla's other mentor. You may remember that Lee played Count Doku in the last two episodes of the _Star Wars_ prequel. That was weird…I feel bad that I've type-casted poor Christopher Lee into a bad guy role for ever and ever.

I also applaud the portrayal of the Pope's "nephews and nieces," his inner circle of friends and spiritual children, from whom Wojtyla learned so much about the human condition. His friendship with "Roman," a Jewish childhood friend was endearing and illustrative of Pope John Paul's big heart—although I have to say that I don't remember "Roman" from any of the bios I've read about John Paul. Maybe "Roman" is a composite character. The name of the Pope's childhood Jewish friend was different in the other two biopics. That leads me to believe that's probably the case.

One bad point: the scene where the Pope was in his open pope mobile cruising St. Peter's Plaza, with the columnata in the background, and the crowd in front of him, on his way to be shot by Mehmet Ali Agca looked fake through and through. The three "layers" were superimposed and they sort of "shook" out of sync with normal movement. It may me dizzy to look at it. Thumbs down to the special effects people.

All-in-all, it was a great production. As soon as I'm able, I'll get me the DVD.

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