Skip to comments.Review of The 13th Day
Posted on 10/20/2009 3:38:21 PM PDT by Dajjal
Review of The 13th Day
by John Vennari
In the spring of this year, I saw the riveting trailer for The 13th Day, and looked forward to its release with great anticipation. I recently viewed the movie itself. The film is good, though there are some aspects I found disappointing.
The 13th Day has many fine moments. The actress who portrays Lucias mother is superb, and even a bit terrifying. The movie contains the best portrayal of the Miracle of the Sun Ive seen. It is filmed in black and white, except when Our Lady brings everything to color, which is a nice touch. The overall visual theme of the film is original and appealing. Most of the acting is well executed, and the film is artistically done.
But it is certain aspects of this attempted artistry that either slow down the film or present a distraction. Artistry in film works best when you dont notice it, but some of the abrupt film editing, multiple close-ups and strange camera-angles made me feel as if I were watching a foreign film from the 60s.
I remember hearing a commentary by the renowned actor Peter OToole who complained of a common problem in modern film-making: the camera-man, through his camera work, wants to do the acting; or the film-editor, through his film-editing, wants to do the acting. OToole said, were the actors, let us do the acting. OTooles admonition came to mind while I was watching some of the odd camera-work in The 13th Day.
The film opens with the words Based on a True Story, which signals there will be a certain amount of artistic license in chronicling the Fatima events. It is the nature of movie-making to employ this license in the production of any film on a historical subject, but I believe the film should have stuck more scrupulously to the actual facts in certain areas, especially since these facts are so readily available.
In the first scene, we see Sister Lucia at her convent in Pontevedra in 1937, writing her memoirs in obedience to her Superiors. Sister Lucia is the voice narrating the story, though the narration is not exactly Sister Lucias words, but a modern re-write by the filmmakers. Thus it does not always sound like the Sister Lucia we know.
An exact rendition of Our Ladys words are not always given, sometimes close, sometimes not. For example, The 13th Day has Our Lady saying, People must turn to God, for He is already too much offended, rather than the exact words: People must stop offending God, for He is already too much offended. Also, in the film, Lucia is not told until October 13 that Our Lady will take Jacinta and Francisco soon, whereas that Message was given on June 13.
Though the bulk of the film is historically accurate, there are a number of minor inaccuracies, such as those already noted. I cant help but wonder why the filmmakers did not always reproduce Our Ladys words as She spoke them, and at the time She spoke them.
Perhaps this is why the Fatima Shrine in Portugal, in its official endorsement of the movie, called it a fictional film" based on the events at Fatima.
Granted even more artistic license was employed in the 1950s Warner Brothers film Our Lady of Fatima. But I had hoped The 13th Day, though a movie, not a documentary, would be a dead-on accurate rendition of the Fatima story brought to screen.
The viewer might also wish that the actress playing the child Lucia spoke a bit more slowly and with better diction. Some of her dialogue whizzes by so quickly, you might find it hard to catch.
One of the refreshing aspects of this 2009 film at least in the preview I saw is that it makes no comment on the controversy surrounding Pope John Pauls Consecration of the world in 1984, and of the Vaticans commentary on the release of the vision of the Third Secret in 2000. The film contains other strong points, such as depicting the desolation of Lucias father when he learns his fields have been trampled into disuse by the throngs who come to Fatima for Our Ladys visitations.
The film previewed in various locations around the country on October 13. The official DVD release date is December 1, 2009.
I am certain many people will be edified by The 13th Day, as the story of Fatima itself cannot but move the soul. The film has a certain rustic beauty, and is bound to get more people interested in the Fatima Message. The filmmakers deserve much credit for their devotion to Fatima, and for the tremendous amount of time, funds and energy they undoubtedly poured into this work.
Based on the trailer I saw five months ago, I was geared up to write a five-star review. But the trailer had an energy and pacing that the film does not quite deliver. I am sorry to say I found The 13th Day to be good, but disappointing in some areas. With a little better screenplay and story construction, it could have been one of the great movie events of the decade.
Our Lady of Fatima ping
This review, while still a “good” one, is casting the film in a bit dimmer light than most other takes on it. Here is another one, from Steven Greydanus of the Decent Films website (which is run with a Catholic perspective):
Greydanus’ review is hardly without any criticisms, but it makes the movie sound a bit more worth seeing. Unfortunately, the main difficulty will be, for nearly everyone, just finding a venue in which to see the movie, as it is being released rather sparingly. Maybe it will be available on DVD someday, and Ignatius Press (or at least Amazon) will carry it.
The events surrounding the events of Fatima are so miraculous and create a wonderful storyline for so many involved during that special time.
Why couldn't the filmakers spent more time to get this film one that soars? I am anxious to see it, but am a bit deflated from opportunities missed.
I know nothing about the film, so thanks for the info.
The DVD release date is Dec. 1st. You can pre-order it now at the sale price of $22.45 (10% off). The DVD comes with a 24-page booklet).