Paolo Sorrentino and the search for the origins in The Young Pope
Who is Lenny Belardo? This question has two obvious answers. He is the new pope Pio XIII, of course, but he is also an orphan.
The first TV series written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino is surely an incredible success. While waiting for the second season, we have time to reflect on the story and to think about the many unsolved questions.
The first one: who is Lenny Belardo? This question has two obvious answers. He is the new pope Pio XIII, of course, but he is also an orphan.
As a pope, Lenny Belardo is reactionary, authoritarian, and tied to an old and conservative idea of papacy. He begins a fight against every kind of sin, against lust and depravation. He takes a position against abortion, gay marriage, and wants to throw out every homosexual from the Church. He does not see differences between homosexuality and pedophilia. Above all, he avoids every kind of relationship with Catholic believers, never showing himself to the public, and preaching the absence as the only way to reach God. His attitude leads the Church into a terrible crisis.
Beyond this appearance, there is something arcane and holy in his actions: some begin to consider him a saint, because he speaks directly to God, and the Lord seems to satisfy his preyers.
However, Lenny is also an orphan, a son looking for his parents, and God seems to be the only paternal figure he can strive for. The search for his parents is strictly connected to his faith in God, and leads him to other important questions. Does God exist? How can we reach Him? What is the mission of the Church?
Paolo Sorrentino deals with these themes whilst conforming to the rules and the rhythm of a TV series, but also maintaining his personal style and representing religion as a “Great Beauty Show”. The magnificence of the Vatican palaces, the richness of the vestments, the triumphal entrance of the pope in the Sistine Chapel are examples on this show. But these images are only the external surface of the question. The real research takes place in the earthly things: the doubts, the sins, or simply the cheer of the secretary of the Vatican state for his favourite football team.
Above all, the need of a return to the origins, to the roots; this is what connects Lenny Belardo to the main character of The Great Beauty, Jep Gambardella.
Jude Law interprets the role of Lenny Belardo. It’s the first time he has worked on such a long script, and this is an opportunity for him to deeply analyze the development of a character. The great cast relies also on the presence of Diane Keaton (a sister Mary), Silvio Orlando (cardinal Voiello), Scott Shepherd (Dussolier), and James Cromwell (cardinal Spencer). The series premiered in Italy on 21 October 2016, followed by several other European countries, and will premiere on January 2017 in the United States.
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Writer: Paolo Sorrentino
Cast: Jude law, Diane Keaton, Silvio Orlando, Scott Shepherd, James Cromwell, Javier Càmara, Cécile De France, Ludivine Sagnier