The Young Pope
|The Young Pope|
|Created by||Paolo Sorrentino|
|Directed by||Paolo Sorrentino|
|Theme music composer||Timothy McKenzie|
|Opening theme||"Watchtower" (Instrumental) prod. by Labrinth|
|Country of origin|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||10 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||46–60 minutes|
|Original release||21 October– 18 November 2016|
|Followed by||The New Pope (2019)|
The Young Pope is a drama television series created and directed by Paolo Sorrentino for Sky Atlantic, HBO, and Canal+. The series stars Jude Law as the disruptive Pope Pius XIII and Diane Keaton as his confidante Sister Mary, in a Vatican full of intrigues. It was co-produced by European production companies: Wildside, Haut et Court TV, and Mediapro.
The world premiere of The Young Pope was on 3 September 2016 at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival, where the first two episodes were screened out of the competition. It was the first time in the history of the festival that a TV series was a part of the program. The series premiered on television on 21 October 2016 on Sky Atlantic in Italy.
The Young Pope was originally designed as a limited series, and it was marketed as such especially in the United States. However, Wildside producer Lorenzo Mieli announced on 20 October 2016 that a second season of the series was in development. The project was later revealed to be a follow-up limited series called The New Pope, with Law returning and joined by John Malkovich, whose production began in Italy in late 2018.
- Jude Law as Pope Pius XIII (born Lenny Belardo), the newly elected Pope and former Archbishop of New York
- Diane Keaton as Sister Mary, an American nun, who raised Belardo and Dussolier in an orphanage, has helped Lenny throughout his career, and is appointed personal secretary to the Pope
- Silvio Orlando as Cardinal Angelo Voiello, Camerlengo and Cardinal Secretary of State
- Javier Cámara as Monsignor (later Cardinal) Bernardo Gutierrez, Master of Ceremonies of the Holy See
- Scott Shepherd as Cardinal Andrew Dussolier, a missionary, Lenny's longtime friend and a fellow orphan
- Cécile de France as Sofia, in charge of marketing for the Holy See
- Ludivine Sagnier as Esther, the wife of a member of the Pontifical Swiss Guard
- Toni Bertorelli as Cardinal Caltanissetta, an elderly and powerful master of Vatican politics with inscrutable motives.
- James Cromwell as Cardinal Michael Spencer, former Archbishop of New York and Lenny's mentor
- Guy Boyd as Archbishop Kurtwell, a suspected child molester
- Andre Gregory as Elmore Coen, a writer
- Rayna Tharani as Maribeth, Cardinal Dussolier's married girlfriend
- Tony Plana as Carlos García, a Honduran drug dealer and Maribeth's husband
- Jan Hoag as Rose, the manager of a hotel in New York City
- Kevin Jackson as Pete Washington, a potential witness of Kurtwell's crimes
- Carolina Carlsson as the Prime Minister of Greenland
- Gianluca Guidi as Father Federico Amatucci, Cardinal Voiello's confidant
- Ignazio Oliva as Father Valente, one of the Pope's assistants
- Sebastian Roché as Cardinal Michel Marivaux, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints
- Franco Pinelli as Tonino Pettola, a charlatan who claims that he can see the Virgin Mother among his sheep flock
- Marcello Romolo as Don Tommaso (later created a Cardinal), the Pope's and the cardinals' confessor
- Daniel Vivian as Domen, the Pope's butler
- Vladimir Bibic as Cardinal Ozolins
- Biagio Forestieri as Peter, a member of the Pontifical Swiss Guard and Esther's husband
- Ramón García as Cardinal Aguirre
- Nadee Kammellaweera as Sister Suree, a secretarial worker at the Vatican
- Maurizio Lombardi as Cardinal Mario Assente
- Madalina Bellariu as Elena, an escort
- Alex Esola as Freddy Blakestone, an aspiring tennis player that was involved in the Kurtwell case
- Alessia Giulia Trujillo Alva as Blessed Juana
- Delaina Mitchell as Lenny Belardo's former "girlfriend"
- Monica Cetti as Contessa Meraviglia, a hedonistic Italian noble
- Olivia Macklin as Lenny Belardo's mother
- Collin Smith as Lenny Belardo's father
- Allison Case as young Sister Mary
- Frank Gingerich as young Lenny Belardo
- Jack McQuaid as young Andrew Dussolier
- Ann Darlington Carr as the Custodian's wife, miraculously cured by Lenny's prayer
- Brian Keane as the Custodian
- Nicolas Coster as an American journalist
- Massimiliano Gallo as Captain Becchi, a Carabinieri officer
- Milvia Marigliano as Sister Antonia, a missionary nun serving in Africa
- Marcos Franz as Ángelo Sanchez, a young man whose application to become priest has been rejected
- Emilio Dino Conti as the Prime Minister of Italy's advisor
- Todd Grinnell as Archbishop Kurtwell's assistant
- Troy Ruptash as David Tanistone, Archbishop Kurtwell's secret son
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Ital. viewers|
(millions) [note 1]
|Paolo Sorrentino||Paolo Sorrentino||21 October 2016||0.743|
Lenny Belardo becomes the first American Pope and takes the name of Pius XIII. Shortly after his election, he causes upheaval in the Vatican with his desire to reject both publicity and the liberal philosophy of his predecessor. Sister Mary, the nun who raised Lenny, is brought in as his personal secretary, and immediately establishes herself as the chief rival of the powerful Cardinal Voiello, the Vatican's Secretary of State. Cardinal Spencer, Lenny's mentor and the original favourite for the papacy, is distraught over his loss in the Papal election.
Lenny shocks the world with his first address, in which he demands Catholics worldwide devote themselves body and soul to God, no matter the consequences. Sister Mary and Cardinal Voiello struggle to control Lenny, who admits that his conservative religious views result from his parents' decision to place him in a Catholic orphanage so they could pursue a hedonistic lifestyle.
|Paolo Sorrentino||Paolo Sorrentino & Stefano Rulli||28 October 2016||0.517|
Lenny plans to lead a resurgence of conservative Christianity despite the efforts of Spencer and Voiello. Lenny forces Voiello to reveal that liberal forces in the College of Cardinals blocked the conservative Spencer's election as Pope, resulting in an agreement between the two men to use Lenny as a puppet. When Lenny threatens to excommunicate Voiello, the liberal cardinal is forced to swear loyalty to him. Later, during a chance encounter with Esther, the wife of a Pontifical Swiss Guard, Lenny has a seizure.
Lenny arranges for a nun's sister to be brought to the Vatican for burial, then berates her at the funeral for crying. Lenny denies Spencer a promotion and severs ties with him as punishment for his attempt to manipulate him. Voiello arranges for Esther to work as an assistant to the Pope in the hope that they will develop a sexual relationship that he can exploit to his advantage. Lenny's comments about the gay aide to the female prime minister of Greenland (with whom some cardinals flirt) and his treatment of the PM herself alienate Sofia, the head of the Vatican's marketing branch and Lenny's closest ally outside the priesthood.
|Paolo Sorrentino||Paolo Sorrentino||4 November 2016||0.508|
Lenny sidesteps Esther's sexual advances, thwarting Voiello's persistent machinations to bring him down with an illicit sex scandal. Lenny reveals that he already knows everyone's secrets, including those of Voiello, Gutierrez, and Tomasso. The papal tiara arrives, and Lenny finally addresses the Cardinals.
After the birth of Esther's baby, Lenny finally meets with the Prime Minister of Italy, a man of similar age and attractiveness to himself. Lenny gives him a list of shocking and preposterous demands, using political blackmail to get his way. Lenny forces Cardinal Dussolier, his childhood friend and now the cardinal in charge of approving new priests, to block the entrance of new priests who do not adhere to clerical celibacy – and homosexuals, regardless of their adherence to the vow. A young seminarian is denied admittance and commits suicide in St. Peter's Square.
|Paolo Sorrentino||Paolo Sorrentino & Tony Grisoni||11 November 2016||0.490|
Voiello and Dussolier desperately try make Lenny see the disaster he is unleashing. Sister Mary takes drastic action to save the Church, deeply impressing Voiello. Lenny is shocked and excited by the prospect of reuniting with his parents at last. The cardinals cut a deal with Spencer, who has a heart-to-heart with Lenny. Dussolier takes charge of his life, with tragic consequences.
Lenny prays for Dussolier's soul, as Sister Mary weeps bitter tears. Lenny summons Sofia, who counsels him to visit a well-publicized missionary site in Africa. To everyone's astonishment, the Pope agrees. En route, the press tries – and fails – to speak to Lenny, revealing to Voiello that Kurtwell might be blackmailing the Pontiff. In Africa, the Pope seems ambivalent to Sister Antonia's operations, but his attempt at confession is derailed when a local priest passes him a condemning note. Now watching carefully for injustices, Lenny delivers an inspiring speech to the country's populace, with pointed warnings to its dictator and Sister Antonia. Meanwhile, Voiello surprises Sister Mary.
|Paolo Sorrentino||Umberto Contarello & Paolo Sorrentino||18 November 2016||0.550|
In New York City, Cardinal Gutierrez, now convinced of Kurtwell's guilt, desperately tries to convince his former victims to testify. Realizing that he must resort to more unsavoury tactics, Gutierrez makes a move that Kurtwell can't counter. In desperation, Kurtwell finally releases his blackmail material on Lenny, but his overconfidence proves his undoing – Lenny's letters are useless for a scandal and so beautiful that they become an instant sensation. Meanwhile, as Spencer lies dying in the Vatican, he begs Lenny to relate the miracle he performed as a teenager.
Impressed with his new conviction, Lenny asks Gutierrez to take over as his personal secretary, then banishes Kurtwell to Alaska. Lenny sends Sister Mary to Africa to take Antonia's place, telling her that she can call him by name as long as he can call her "Ma". After learning that he himself will be considered for sainthood one day, Lenny agrees to spend Christmas in Guatemala amongst the patients of Beata Juana. At the last minute, however, Lenny decides to face his demons and heads for Venice instead. At the Basilica San Marco, the Pope reveals his face at last and uses Beata Juana's words to deliver a homily that touches the crowds and the cardinals alike. Having finally grown up and seeing a couple in the crowd that looks like his parents, the young pope collapses, leaving his future uncertain.
The Young Pope, the first TV series by Paolo Sorrentino, was produced by Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani, together with the French company Haut et Court TV and the Spanish company Mediapro. The project was financed by Sky, Canal+ and HBO, which contributed 40 million euros, with part of the money coming from the European Regional Development Fund. Production of the first 10 episodes of the first season took three years between 2014 and 2016.
The script was written by Sorrentino, Stefano Rulli, Tony Grisoni and Umberto Contarello. The cast, announced between July and August 2015, includes Jude Law as the young pope; Diane Keaton as Sister Mary; James Cromwell, Silvio Orlando, Scott Shepherd, Javier Cámara and Toni Bertorelli. It also includes Cécile de France, Ludivine Sagnier, Guy Boyd, Andre Gregory, Sebastian Roché, Marcello Romolo, Ignazio Oliva, Vladimir Bibic, Daniel Vivian and Nadie Kammalaweera. The main character is almost always seen only from the waist up, to give the impression that he might be soaring. Sorrentino said he inherited this technique from Spike Lee.
Filming of the first season, which took seven months, started in August 2015 and took place mainly in the Cinecittà studios, where the interior of the Vatican was recreated. Exterior shots and garden scenes were taken at a number of villas, primarily Villa Lante (Bagnaia), Villa Medici, and Orto Botanico dell'Università di Roma "La Sapienza", while some interior shots were also taken inside Palazzo Venezia. Parts of the last episode were shot in piazza San Marco in Venice.
The series premiered on 21 October 2016 on Sky Atlantic in Italy, Germany, and Austria, 27 October 2016 on Sky Atlantic in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, 28 October 2016 on HBO in various European countries, and on 15 January 2017 on HBO and HBO Canada in the United States and Canada. It premiered in Australia on SBS Television on 29 April 2017.
The Young Pope received positive reviews in the UK, Ireland, and Italy. Jude Law's performance has garnered praise by Jasper Rees of The Daily Telegraph, while the Italian weekly Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana objected to "caricature-like characters created to appeal to an American audience".
On US review aggregator Metacritic, it has a rating of 69, indicating "generally favorable reviews". The show also currently has a 78 per cent positive rating from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes combining 76 reviews. Its "Critics Consensus": "The Young Pope 's original premise and stylish blend of over-the-top melodrama with profane comedy helps overcome an occasionally muddled plot."
Some Catholic reviewers were put off by what they perceived as the series' anti-Catholic stance. Such critics took issue with a presentation of the church they found to be caricatural and "cartoonish". Other reviewers complained about anti-Catholicism in the entertainment industry more broadly. However, some conservative reviewers praised the show for its portrayal of tradition and authentic religious devotion.
In Italy, the two-hour premiere drew the highest rating ever for the pay TV network Sky. With 953,000 viewers overnight, it beat the initial release of Gomorrah and the Italian release of Game of Thrones.
Awards and nominations
|2017||69th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or Movie||Luca Bigazzi, Director of Photography||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More)||Ludovica Ferrario, Production Designer
Alexandro Maria Santucci, Art Director
Laura Casalini, Set Decorator
|2018||75th Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film||Jude Law||Nominated|
Home media release
|DVD release date||Blu-ray release date|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4||Region A||Region B|
|6 June 2017||26 December 2016||28 June 2017||6 June 2017||26 December 2016|
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- "The Young Pope premieres exclusively on SBS" by Virginia Padovese, SBS, 10 April 2017
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- "The Young Pope: Jude Law convinces as a very modern pontiff".
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- "The Young Pope da record, + 45% di 'Gomorra' nella prima puntata". 22 October 2016.
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