A Remnant Film Review...
Next Children’s Crusade
A new film about St. Bernadette of Lourdes
Brian M. McCall,
The Remnant Bookstore
Catholic culture has been under
incessant attack for decades. The enemies of the Church
once attempted to invade Christendom with armies and
navies. After centuries of defeat (Lepanto, Vienna, etc.)
a new front was opened – If you cannot beat them, undermine
nineteenth and twentieth centuries are littered with the
cultural corpses of this campaign. Wholesome, edifying
Catholic culture and entertainment has been attacked in all
media, art, drama, music, literature and, most notably,
film. As any Catholic parent knows, finding edifying
cultural entertainment for the family is very difficult if
not nearly impossible here in the ruins of Christendom.
is real danger in this devastated cultural vineyard. In
faithfully avoiding the harmful rot passed off as culture,
we also run the danger of adopting a Puritanical or
Jansenist mentality. In order to reassert the Kingdom of
Christ the King in this world it is not enough to merely
avoid the cultural sewers. We must create, preserve,
promote and make use of good Catholic art. Catholicism is an
entire worldview, encompassing all aspects of human nature,
including the artistic.
is why a project like Navis Pictures’ St. Bernadette of
Lourdes must be given enthusiastic support by the
Traditionalist movement. This project is a masterstroke on
the cultural battlefield. The picture, directed and produced
by Traditional Catholic, Jim Morlina, is an accurate,
edifying and beautiful representation of the life of St.
Bernadette and the apparitions at Lourdes. Jim and his
family attend the Traditional Mass at Immaculate Conception
Church in Sleepy Hollow, New York (as do several of the
actors appearing in the film). It is clear that this film
was produced by someone who has an accurate understanding of
the history of the Church. Unlike several recent films
produced about the lives of a saint, Bernadette of
Lourdes is completely faithful to the pre-Vatican II
praxis and culture that St. Bernadette would recognize.
recall watching an Italian film about the life of St.
Francis of Assisi a few years ago in which St. Francis is
seen attending a Novus Ordo, versus populum Mass
approximately 800 years before such novelties had arrived.
There is none of this post-conciliar amnesia in
Bernadette of Lourdes. The girls are veiled in church;
they make abundant use of holy water, and always genuflect
upon entering or leaving church. No Novus Ordo head
its historical and liturgical accuracy, the most striking
achievement of the film is that the actors are all children.
Morlino organized and directed over 160 children over four
months of filming-- an impressive accomplishment if we
consider the trials involved with directing a homeschool of
half a dozen children.
Although there is a wide variety of acting talent, many of
the performances are outstanding. Genevieve Morlino (Jim’s
daughter) gives a performance as St. Bernadette that would
rival the professional children actors in the Chronicles
of Narnia. Her acting is filled with deep emotion. The
scene where St. Bernadette’s reveals the name of Our Lady,
The Immaculate Conception, is particularly moving.
Genevieve makes you believe she really is the humble, devout
and innocent St. Bernadette.
script and plot are truly excellent, with a story presented
from the perspective of Jean-Baptiste Estrade. He was a
civil servant in Lourdes who lived with his sister in the
same building as the Police Commissioner, Jacomet. He was
present at the interrogation of St. Bernadette, and, at the
urging of his sister, attended the 6th apparition.
He interviewed St. Bernadette scores of times over the next
few years. After many requests from priests and even his
bishop, he finally collected his writings and published a
first-hand account of the events in his book The
Appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Grotto of
Estrade serves as narrator for the film and the audience
watches his conversion from a post-revolutionary skeptic to
a man of faith. After witnessing the supernatural events of
the sixth apparition, he becomes a devoted supporter of St.
Bernadette. Fourteen-year-old Paul Reilly gives an
impressive portrayal of the deep struggle of faith in a man
likely two or three times his age.
Estrade’s character sets an important theme for this film
right in the opening monologue. He orients the apparitions
within the centuries-old struggle between the One True
Church and the forces of Islam. Estrade reminds us that the
site of this apparition has a long history.
the defeat of the Muslims by Charles Martel, they continued
to attempt an invasion of Europe through Southwest France.
Martel’s grandson, Charlemagne, met the Muslim leader,
Mirat, at the site of the later apparitions of Our Lady at
the grotto of Masabielle. The siege was ended only by the
conversion of Mirat through the intercession of Our Lady of
Victories. The surrounding area is known by a derivation of
his baptismal name, Lorus.
Our Lady’s apparition in Lourdes to Bernadette about eight
hundred years later is not out of time. She had already
worked a great miracle at this spot which played a role,
perhaps less known than Tours, in establishing Christendom.
Yet, by the time of post-revolutionary France, the faith of
Christendom had grown cold. She returned, then, to call the
children of the eldest daughter of the Church and all of
Christendom back to the fervor of the early centuries. Her
weapons are penance and the rosary.
film’s use of earlier historical accounts adds new poignancy
to the conflict between faith and the Enlightenment’s
rationality, personified by Jacomet.
the costumes, to the beautiful sets and locations, to the
quality acting and cinematography, the viewer will really
feel he’s in nineteenth century Lourdes. Although the film
was shot in New York, the rugged, beautiful landscape
captures the flavor of the little village in the shadows of
the acting, sets, costumes and cinematography I could not
conclude this review without mentioning the score, which was
composed and produced by someone I think is a musical genius
of our time, David Hughes. Those Remnant readers who
attend St. Mary’s in Connecticut or who have been to the
Roman Forum, know that I do not here exaggerate. David is a
master on the organ, something akin to a modern day Bach.
If you have the opportunity to hear David on the organ you
will know the power, emotion, enthusiasm and love for true
Catholic liturgy that is conveyed through his playing.
film’s original score is what one would expect from a
virtuoso like David. It strikes the right chord for each
scene with solemn and powerful melodies. The excellent
musicality of the production is a true cultural bonus for
this cinematic masterpiece.
would like to purchase a copy of St. Bernadette of
Lourdes you can do so through the Navis Pictures
If you want to host a public viewing of the film, please
contact Navis Pictures through the website. Let’s do
something to rebuild Christian culture for our children. Buy
copies of the film and give them out as birthday and feast
day gifts. Join this cultural crusade. “It is the will of