spacetime coordinates: 9th century
Ingelheim am Rhein – the cathedral school in Dorestad – the Fulda monastery of Benedictines – Rome
Pope Joan (German: Die Päpstin) is an international epic film produced by Bernd Eichinger, based on American novelist Donna Woolfolk Cross‘ novel of the same name about the legendary Pope Joan. Directed by Sönke Wortmann, it stars Johanna Wokalek as Joan, David Wenham as Gerold, her lover, and John Goodman as Pope Sergius II.
The popular story of the ‘female Pope’ that has become widespread since the Middle Ages and thereafter. Pope Joan has been mentioned in works that were released several centuries after her supposed reign. Most modern scholars have dismissed the stories as fictional, due to lack of contemporary documentation, and the debunking of indirect evidence. Many theories abound that the lack of evidence is the result of successful attempts by the Catholic Church to erase Joan’s existence from history. The matter therefore remains controversial.
Brand Upon the Brain! A Remembrance in 12 Chapters is an avant-garde silent film directed by Guy Maddin and shot in Seattle with local actors.
Guy reluctantly returns to his childhood home, an abandoned Canadian island, where his parents ran an orphanage. As Guy fulfils his dying mother’s request to paint the lighthouse which served as the orphanage, memories of strange events there overpower him. An undercover investigation by child author/detective Wendy & a revolt by the repressed children, blew open a cover-up by Guy’s parents. Wendy disguised herself as her brother Chance and discovered that Guy’s inventor father performed outré scientific experiments on the orphans.
spacetime coordinates: Venice, 1596
The Merchant of Venice is a 2004 romantic drama film based on Shakespeare‘s play of the same name. It is the first full-length sound film in English of Shakespeare’s play
The title character is the merchant Antonio (Jeremy Irons), not the Jewish moneylender Shylock (Al Pacino) who is the more prominent character. This adaptation follows the text, but omits much. Director Michael Radford believed that Shylock was Shakespeare’s first great tragic hero who reaches a catastrophe due to his own flaws. The film begins with text and a montage of how the Jewish community is abused by the Christian population of Venice and brings attention to the fact that, as a convert, Shylock would have been cast out of the Jewish ghetto in Venice.
(trivia) the bare-breasted prostitutes were not put in the film to make it more risqué, but rather to add a note of historical authenticity. Venetian law at the time required all prostitutes to bare their breasts because the Christian authorities were concerned about rampant homosexuality in their city.