Skip to comments.An EWTN Event: Don't Miss "The War of the Vendee"
Posted on 09/25/2013 1:54:55 PM PDT by NYer
Navis Pictures Producer Jim Morlino was looking for a story for his next film when a friend gave him a book with a story about a little known war in an area of Western France known as the Vendee - a story that he believed would be especially compelling to modern day Catholics.
"More than just compelling, the magnitude of the story of the French Revolutionary Government's war against the Catholic Church, and the fact that these events were virtually unknown to most of the world, I found shocking," said Morlino. "How could a war which lasted for years, resulted in the deaths of as many as a quarter of a million people, included acts of state-sponsored genocide, and yet ultimately resulted in the restoration of freedom for the Catholic Church in France have been so totally ignored by historians? I was hooked."
You will be too when EWTN airs Morlino's 90-minute film "The War of the Vendee" at 9:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Sept. 25, with an encore at 8 p.m. ET, Saturday, Sept. 28. Morlino's films are shot using all child actors! What follows is a short Q&A with the producer. You can hear more when Morlino guests on "EWTN Live" with Fr. Mitch Pacwa at 8 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Sept. 25 - just prior to the World Premiere of this new movie!
How did you research the concept?
Morlino said he researched the War by reading a number of books including "A French Genocide" by Reynald Secher, "For Altar and Throne" by Michael Davies, "The Guillotine and the Cross" by Dr. Warren Carroll, and "Citizens" by Simon Schama.
"The more I read, the more I realized what a timely and pressing issue this was for us here in America. The assault against the freedom of the Church, and the persecution of believing Catholics is not a new story, but one which has been repeated time and again, century after century. But the Faithful deserve to know these stories so as to be inspired by the martyrs, and prepared for whatever may come."
What was the most difficult challenge you faced in making this film?
"One of the greatest blessings we have here in our work at Navis Pictures is, ironically, also one of the greatest challenges: working with children. ... Someone like Peter Jackson or Steven Spielberg doesn't often have to contend with things like a family's summer vacation plans, or Johnny's Little League game, like we do, but therein lies one of the greatest satisfactions for me. We have managed to create a piece of unique, and distinctly Catholic art that is much greater than the sum of its parts, and one that is actually quite moving and effective - especially given the minuscule budget."
What do you hope the audience takes away from this film?
"I hope people (especially older folks like me) are inspired by seeing what young, innocent, faithful Catholics are capable of doing when given a chance. I hope also they learn something about a lost chapter of our Catholic history. But I especially hope a few young Catholics who watch the film are inspired to take their God-given talents all the way to Hollywood someday!"
Anything else you want people to know?
"I think sometimes people see that we've produced a couple of nice films and they think we must be rich. The truth is, we need all the help we can get - just to survive! So, if folks like what they see in this movie, I invite them to consider buying a copy of the DVD to have in their home (the special features are really a lot of fun) and maybe a few more copies to give as gifts. [Purchase "The War of the Vendee" here, http://bit.ly/1guV0Jh.] Please keep us in your prayers, too. This is the only way we can continue making more films. God bless you all!"
“They have killed our temporal king. Now they want to kill the heavenly king. Who is worth fighting for, and even dying for, if not Him?”
I received a review DVD today and watched it this evening.
Given the professional beginning, with the good score, I was soon scratching my head at age inappropriate actors. They were far too young and, as young actors, they performed, well…. like young actors. I started to wonder how I could write positively about this film. My suspicion that I was missing something of critical importance drove me to the Navis Pictures website, which has as its goal the creation of a new genre of film: Children’s Cinema.
The some 250 young actors in this film are all under 21. This is, therefore, a direct contradiction to the old adage about never working with kids.
I don’t know how it escaped me, but I didn’t know about this aspect of the film before I stuck the DVD into the machine!
Navis, which means ship in Latin, like the Barque of Peter, wants to inspire young people to get into the film industry and other performing arts at a young age, presumably to begin to transform the industry from within. The director, Jim Morlino – yes, like the bishop but not too closely related he tells me – explains his project in a 3 minute video HERE. Great idea!
Once you give yourself over the fundamental point of this project, this genre, you look past the rough spots, and enjoy the production immensely.
I suspect this film will be inspiring to children, both because the story is historically important but also because it is by young people for young people.
The music score was very good. The composer, Kevin Kaska, was top notch (which is one of the reasons why I was puzzled at the beginning by the age of the actors). Kaska orchestrated the music for the Batman movie The Dark Knight, and the The Passion of the Christ. The War of the Vendée is Kaska’s second film as a composer.
If I ever get that three-hour a day call-in talk radio show, I will probably ask Navis for permission to use a clip from for my bumper music.
Of liturgical interest are portrayals of Holy Mass. I was outraged… outraged, I say, to see a maniple on the right arm of the young actor priest! Can you imagine? If people are going to make movies about the old days, why don’t they talk to someone who knows what’s what? And the Latin… mon Dieu! (I’m kidding, of course.) Later in the movie, for Mass before a battle, they get the maniple right… er left…
[UPDATE: I had a note from Jim Morlino of Navis Pictures who wrote: "RE the maniple - scene was originally shot with the correct placement of the maniple (I and many in the film are TLM folk) Due to an error on my part in maintaining "screen direction" for the Mass scene, I had to digitally "flop" the shot, and so, the Maniple appears to be on his right arm...when in fact it was correctly placed on his left arm the entire time. I knew that was going to raise some hackles, but there was nothing I could do about it." No hackles from Fr. Z, Jim. I was yankin' yer chain.]
The age of the actors sometimes made it difficult to know who was intended to be an adult and who was a child. The fact that these were kids, meant that they weren’t using real guns. They had to add effects, but they did a pretty good job. And there is a battle scene that turned out pretty well, along with a “follow the bullet” moment and the death of a good guy.
I loved the bad guy official of the Republic with the braces on his teeth.
Another point is the prominent positive role of the female characters. This is perhaps best captured in the line: “Men of the Vendée, either pick up your weapons now, or we will wield them for you!”
In the balance, the filmmaker and composer and these kids told a good story and they told it well. There were moments of humor, but serious things are presented throughout about Catholic identity, faithfulness, the role of men and of women in life, honor, and the virtue of religion.
It is timely that this film comes out even as governments are today attacking freedom of religion and the Catholic Church. I could well imagine a parish screening with a discussion period before and after, especially talking about contemporary attacks on the Church and our future choices.
We may need inspiration from the men and women of the Vendée again, and very soon.
Here is the trailer:
The disk has French and Spanish subtitles, director and cast commentary tracks, widescreen options and is regionless.
They are giving a 50% discount to customers in France!
And do they need it! This film comes at a time when we need that New Evangelization of which Pope Benedict has spoken.
It is good to see Catholic films being produced by and for young people. The War of the Vendée could introduce children (and their parents) to this important moment in our Catholic history. If there is sometimes a family playhouse feeling to the film, it also teaches about a dark time in our larger Catholic family history about which every Catholic should know. Thus, The War of the Vendée will clue a wider (and younger) audience into that period in France’s bloody history, just as There Be Dragons did to a certain extent about the Spanish Civil War, or Of Gods and Men did about the monks who were martyred in Algeria.
There is a moment in the movie which echos Navis’ “Children’s Cinema” purpose of the film.
A little boy playing a little boy, Remy, is not permitted to attend a meeting of adults (played by boys… it can get confusing). When Remy pouts, his sister (I think) remonstrates with him saying”
“Remy, don’t be so anxious to be older. Can’t you stay young just a little while longer?
“Being young’s no fun. Who wants to be a child?
“I know someone who wants everyone to be like a child. Someone who knows your name and who loves you so much He became a child Himself.”
[She gives little Remy a patch that the men wear. He says:]
“Now I’ll look just like papa when he was my age!”
The film, with its high production values, does indeed look like a grown up film.
I imagine that these kids had a blast making this movie. You and your children will enjoy watching it. They will probably want to be more Catholic.
Will we be as ready and the men and women of the Vendée?
They were willing to fight and even die for the honor of their Heavenly King and Holy Mother Church.
Had it dvr d. Good one
The Terror’s treatment of the Vendee wasn’t limited to Catholics. At one point, a Republic gendarme was instructed to round up some 37 saboteurs and “enemies of the Republic.” He went down the list of names and dutifully hauled the villians off to the guilloutine. but on the list were the names of several citizens who had either already been slaughtered, had died of natural causes, or had fled the country. No mind to Monsieur le Gendarme: he simply picked up enough citizens to round out the list and supplied them to the executioner. Guilt, innocence, even identity was of no import. They were Vendee and therefore they deserved to die.
Hopefully, it’s on Netflix.
Here are a few worthy French history links:
The Persecution of French Huguenots
Huguenot - Words of the World
St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre
The French Huguenots
Lourdes: A Descent Into Darkness
What Every Catholic Should Know
Every good Catholic wants to please God in this present life and, when life on earth is over, hopes to live with Him forever. It is a noble goal based on personal beliefs about God and how to know Him.
However, noble intentions and personal beliefs about God do not guarantee resultsor eternal life.
I urge you to do what I did after 22 years as a Dominican priest: make sure your beliefs have a solid foundation in the Bible. These questions will help you do that.
The link opens a Word doc where you can read the rest. I attempted to post it but the formatting was off.
Looks worthwhile. I hope I can see it soon.
While I like the idea and hard work, this looks to have very, very low production values. Why do almost all Catholic and Christian films have such low production values? How many non-Catholics or non-practicing Catholics will see this film? Close to none. Heck, how many practicing Catholics will see it? Very few.
Fr. Z mentions There be Dragons but that film was a huge failure. It lost a lot of money, making Hollywood less likely to invest in future projects like that, and critics hated the story, calling it boring. And it was boring! But also few people saw that film, meaning it will be a footnote to the culture wars, no matter how spiritually powerful it was.
The bottom line is almost everyone who sees this film will already be against the persecution of the Church in the Vendee before they press "play" on their machine. This is preaching to the choir, and instead we need to reach people who would never step foot in a church. How do Catholics and just Christians in general do this in Hollywood? By making a product with a interesting story (not just a spiritually good story, but something which a non-believer would find exciting), good acting, good directing, and so on. Having children actors insures the acting will suffer and the film will not be taken seriously by people who do not already own a whole bunch of Catholic films.
Mel Gibson had high production values on The Passion of the Christ because he was an A list actor for many years and he knows what is needed on films and he knows how to get this done. That is a large part of the reason for the film's success. Yes the film was very powerful spiritually, but the film also had enough money to be made well, and also had people with lots of talent and experience acting, directing, producing, writing, and working as crew members.
Ok, rant over.
It’s also an element in one of the “Horatio Hornblower” novels.
So why are you so anti-Catholic if you have a Dominican background?
Thank you for that information!! I want to do more research on this aspect of French history. Both my triple great grandparents were killed in the Franco-Prussian war. Their son, my great great grandfather, was orphaned and adopted by sailors who took him aboard their ship, enrolling him in schools as the traveled around the Mediterranean. In the process, he learned 7 languages. As an adult, he served as a translator in the Irish Royal Court. When he and his Irish wife immigrated to the US around 1870, however, the only housing they could find as catholics, was in the Hell's Kitchen section of NYC. He struggled to find employment. Persecution takes many forms.
It’s a good novel, and the first novel of his “Human Comedy” series.
Perhaps because he is now a born again, Spirit filled believer in Christ?
Not rocket science. :)
You wouldn’t understand. It’s about the Sacrament of Holy Orders where he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Oh, and I don’t think I was talking with you — I was talking with someone else.
thanks for the heads up, i’ll be sure to watch it.