Synopsis by Bhob Stewart
For this Italian-Polish-German co-production, Krzysztof Zanussi adapted the 1949 play Brat Naszego Boga by Karol Wojtyla, aka Pope John Paul II. Acknowledging the theatrical origins, the opening takes place in theater dressing rooms where the actors discuss their roles. Early scenes take place on stage before expanding cinematically. John Paul II recently canonized painter-turned-priest Adam Chmielowski as Saint Brother Albert, and the play was a tribute to Chmielowski, who gave up a comfortable life to work with the poor. The story begins in 1863 when Chmielowski (Scott Wilson) joins an uprising against occupying Russians and has a leg amputated. Working as a painter, Chmielowski is seen in his studio with various friends. After encountering a group of homeless people, he devotes much energy to helping them, eventually entering the priesthood to deal with the problems of poverty. Director Zanussi previously dramatized Wojtyla's life in From a Far Country (1981). Shown at the 1997 Venice Film Festival.