Catholic Review of: Father of Mercy
Orthodoxy: Completely orthodox.
Reading Level: Intermediate
By Breanne Clarke (CO) - See all my reviews
A well-directed film about a heroic war-time priest.
If you don't speak Italian you probably don't know much about the life of Venerable Carlo Gnocchi. Search online and you might have to wade through dozens of Italian websites before you come across anything in English about this great priest. This 2009 film brings to life the story of an Italian priest who served troops on the front lines during World War II.
Father of Mercy centers on the change that Fr. Gnocchi experienced about his views on the war. He was never a follower of the Italian Facist regime, but he did have an idealized notion of military service. Before he had served in the army, he encouraged and helped recruit young men who were interested in service. He believed that soldiers were defending the freedoms of the weak. His first tour of duty in Albania changes all that.
Fr. Gnocchi discovered first hand that this war was not worth fighting. His fellow soldiers are sacrificing their lives under the direction of unjust leaders. When he was finally able to return home he was horrified that the young men he had taught were all enlisting. There was no question that he must return to the war with these men to give them encouragement and the Sacraments. 68,000 troops were sent to Russia under German command and only 7,000 returned.
When the war finally ended, Fr. Gnocchi personally visited the families of the men he knew who had died in battle. It is during these travels that Fr. Gnocchi's personal war began. He met hundreds of children who were orphaned by the war. Many of these children were also victims of land mines laid in the Italian countryside. It was difficult work and took the support of many friends and believers, but Fr. Gnocchi successfully founded an organization to care for these mutilati that survives today, the Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi.
This movie is three hundred minutes long and divided into two parts. I watched part 1 in Italian with English subtitles and part 2 in dubbed English. The production value is good and the war scenes are realistic, but not gratuitously violent. Because of the length it is best viewed in two sittings. Fr. Gnocchi was a heroic priest and his story is one worth knowing, especially in the Year of the Priest.