Cinema buff pope gives '2001' top billing
The Pope hosted a relaunch last night of the remastered and restored version of Stanley Kubrick's classic science fiction film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The Vatican's decision to show 2001, an agnostic fable exploring mankind's place in the universe, in the Pope's own cinema, has surprised some in Rome, particularly as it was penned by Arthur C. Clarke, a militant rejector of organised religion.
However, Vatican officials said that the film, based on Clarke's book of the same name and co-scripted by him, was "top of the list" of films approved by the Pope and his advisers as suitable for viewing by the faithful on the grounds that they promote spiritual or moral values.
Other selected films on the list include Roberto Benigni's Life is Beautiful, Lord Attenborough's Gandhi, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan.
Archbishop John Foley of the Vatican's Commission for Social Communications, helped to draw up the list of approved films, said yesterday that the screening would be in the Pope's private cinema, carved out of a disused chapel just over 30 years after the film first appeared.
The Pope is said to be something of a film buff. He has frequently urged filmmakers to use the medium to promote the positive and the uplifting rather than the sordid and superficial.
In 2001: A Space Odyssey, first released in 1968, a space station spins through space to the strains of the Blue Danube Waltz and comes to symbolise mankind's destiny among the stars.