by Marco Pontecorvo
American-Portuguese film, 1 h 53
In 1989, at the Portuguese Carmel of Coimbra, Sister Lucia received an American writer, Professor Nichols (Harvey Keitel). The latter questions her about the events she experienced when she was a 10-year-old girl, a few tens of kilometers away.
In 1917, in a Europe devastated by war, the young Lucia Dos Santos, as well as her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, recounted having seen “a beautiful lady”, who asked to pray for peace. These revelations lead to growing fervor and an influx of pilgrims to Cova de Iria, a place near Fatima where the little shepherds keep the family sheep, but also the virulent disbelief of the adults surrounding the children.
A well-highlighted historical context
For his third feature film, Italian director Marco Pontecorvo has chosen to focus on the Marian apparitions of Fatima. If we can regret the bias of the flashback, without interest, and the choice of English for the dialogues which clashes with the realism of the landscapes and the reconstruction of the village, we can salute the large part given to the context historical (even if the film takes some liberties: Manuel, Lucia’s older brother, was not actually a soldier during the First World War).
Portuguese families wait week after week for news of their loved ones on the front lines, in a country steeped in anti-clericalism embodied better than anyone else by the mayor of the village (Goran Visnjic). This one will go so far as to imprison the children to make them confess their “lie”.
The Spanish Stephanie Gil, who lends her features to the young Lucia, is convincing as a young girl who is met with the anger aroused by her testimony, starting with that of her mother and the bishop of Leiria, who fears for the reputation of the Church, while the parish priest (Joaquim de Almeida) stands alongside the little seers.