The Religious Affiliation of Director
About The Third Miracle, which was directed by Agnieszka Holland. From: Catherine M. Barsotti and Robert K. Johnston, Finding God in the Movies: 33 Films of Reel Faith, Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Michigan (2004), page 243-244:
Director Agnieszka Holland is a practicing Catholic. When she read the screenplay she was deeply touched because it took faith seriously. She says that the protagonist, Frank Shore is struggling, "as I am struggling," to have faith in today's world, with so many problems, suffering, materialism, etc. She also was fascinated with other questions. What does it mean to be a saint? What kind of saint does the church need today? What does the Catholic Church mean to people today? Thus, one of her motivatoins for making the film was to portray issues of faith and religion in a positive and compelling way. She decided this would not be possible unless she could get Ed Harris, with whom she had worked before, to play th epart of Frank Shore. She sent him the script, and he liked it. They both felt that portrayin the story was the "occasion to spend several months of our lives going through some kind of spiritual journey."
...A film about the Catholic Church and its workings necessarily includes lots of priests. Holland tries to have the variouis characters represent the different faces of the church--political, pastoral, economic, spiritual. She did not want a one-dimensional, stereotypical portrayal of the church. Holland also included some of her own life in the characters. For example, the name Father Paul Panak, the priest at St. Stanislaus Church where Helen O'Regan had worshipped, came from the name of Holland's childhood nanny, Paulina Panak.
About The Third Miracle, which was directed by Agnieszka Holland. From: Barsotti and Johnston, page 238-241:
Something interesting happened in Hollywood as the millennium approached. A number of adult dramas were released, all of which took the Christian faith with new seriousness. The Green Mile, The End of the Affair, Dogma, The Big Kahuna, The Third Miracle--these R-rated films invited moviegoers to consider God and the effect of his presence in their lives. True, the church and its hierarchy were still lampooned--but then we often deserve what we get. [The book's authors seem to be using the phrase "the church" to apply to all Christianity, although many of the movies they are referring to deal only with the Catholic Church, whose "hierarchy" is never actually recognized as legitimate authority by the Evangelical churches the authors affiliate with.] However, the reality of God, the centrality of faith, and the importance of obedience were embraced. These movie stories at times had salty language, graphic violence, and/or explicity sexuality. They are not for everyone--certainly not the young. But the passion with which these movies portray issues of faith and doubt suggests a new openness in moviemakers to consider Christian belief...
The Third Miracle... Set in Chicago in 1979, the movie tells the story of a Catholic priest, Frank Shore, who has left his church assignment and is living in a hotel for transients and eating at a soup kitchen with a cross-section of society's rejected. Father Frank was a postulator, a priest assigned by the church hierarchy to investigate claims of miracles and sainthood. In the process of having to disprove a man's supposed heroic virtue, Frnak also destroyed the faith of a whole parish that had come to believe in the miracles of this man. Frank's church superiors were pleased he had exposed such superstition for what it was, but the weight of destroying the since faith of ordinary people causes Frank to question his own.
When the church comes calling again, Frank is compelled not only to investigate the fiath and good works of another possible saint but his own as well. The movie thus becomes both a spiritual pilgrimage and a detective story, with a romance thrown in to boot.
Ed Harris, who plays Frank Shore, is utterly convincing in his portrayal. Cursed by skepticism, hounded by his superiors, and tempted by sex, he refuses to succumb, instead choosing to be faithful to God and his church. And the temptations are real. The chemistry between Frank and Roxanne (Anne Heche) is almost combustible. The concern of his superiors for the church to be thought of as modern and appropriately unsuperstitious is intimidating. And the tragic events surrounding his own call to ministry would challenge the faith of most of us. We agonize with Frank and his sense of struggle. We also celebrate with him.
For someone to be beautified in the Catholic Church in the 1970s, canon law required that the person be pure and that three miracles occur as a result of his or her life and ministry. As the story unfolds, and it is a good one, there are indeed two miracles that become documented. It is not clear, however, what the third miracle is. Maybe it is the miracle of faith itself--a faith that is reborn in Frank and a faith that will be strengthened in moviegoers as well.
Webpage created 5 September 2005. Last modified 5 September 2005.
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