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Cultural film analysis - Movie Review Example

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Cultural film analysis

In the movie, Johanna was the third child of a village priest and a converted heathen wife. The opening scene immediately showed anti-feminist bias, as the father angrily refused herbal medicine to alleviate his wife’s birth pains due to his belief that “in sorrow, thou (woman) shall give birth.” As she grew up, Johanna was not allowed education since only boys were taught reading and writing. Through self-learning, however, the intellectually gifted Johanna not only showed skill in reading and writing, but in interpreting Latin Bible verses as well. Catching her reading a Greek manuscript, Johanna’s father meted her a brutal lashing, even as he had once grossly raped his wife for teaching Johanna some heathen methods of natural healing. Upon recommendation of an admiring traveling schoolmaster, Johanna gained unprecedented admission to study in the bishop’s schoolhouse for boys. Gerald, a knight in the bishop’s court, provided her a home until she grew to maidenhood, resulting in the jealous wife of Gerald arranging Johanna’s betrothal to a young man against her will. The wedding was cut short by an attack by Norsemen bandits. Historical research shows that the event is reasonable, since there are historical accounts of pagan Norsemen pillaging territories in Frankish empire to add to the disorder of the times (Boak, Slosson and Anderson 180-181). Johanna escaped death by the plundering Norsemen, although she had to disguise herself as a man in order to gain entry in a monastery. As a monk, she saved villagers from an epidemic but had to again escape to avoid disclosure of her disguise by fellow monks. She was cared for by villagers, but not wanting to be tied down to a village life, Johanna took a pilgrimage to Rome again disguised as a man. In Rome she gained acceptance in a Schola Anglorum, and acquired prominence as Johannes Anglicus, the healer. Her fame reached the attention of Pope Alexius, who got cured of gout, and as an act of gratitude made her his private physician and secretary. In time, Johanna became not only the Pope’s chief adviser but also his savior, as her engineering skill prevented King Lothair and his army from a military takeover of Rome. History again has accounts of King Lothair, heir to portion of his grandfather Charlemagne’s domain, pressuring the Pope to grant him the title of emperor, superior to his brothers Lois the German and Charles the Bald. Escaping the military threat of Lothair, Pope Alexius, however, did not escape being poisoned by ambitious bishops who wanted the Papacy for themselves. Unexpectedly, Johanna’s name cropped up as a Papal nominee followed by public clamor to elect her as Papa Populi. Overcome by a desire to serve the people of Rome, she as Johannes Anglicus accepted the Papal crown, reigning for more than two years and ushering progress that benefitted the poor and uneducated masses. Being a woman, however, she succumbed to a secret love affair with her personal guard, leading to the infamous story about her giving premature birth and dying during a papal procession from the Lateran to the St. Peter’s Church. As social commentary, monastic life, the priestly office, and the Papacy have been reserved to males. The Biblical curse assigned Eve the inferior role of a ...Show more


Cultural Film Analysis: Pope Joan The European culture of the 9th century is not well known, except for the fact that Charlemagne’s death in 814 A.D. had caused the division of the Frankish Empire. The cultural film Pope Joan relates to this era, focused on the legendary story of a woman ascending the throne of Peter to become a Pope of the universal Catholic Church…
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