“We are a society that has forgotten the experience of weeping.” This is among the first vocal expressions of Pope Francis in the documentary In Viaggio, presented out of competition at the Venice Film Festival in 2022. The documentary film director Gianfranco Rosi chose and constructed this lengthy papal journey, after previously working on films such as Below Sea Level (2008), about a community of homeless people, Sacro GRA (2013) which won a Golden Lion at Venice by capturing the different ways people live out their existence in the shadow of Rome’s ring road, and Fire at Sea (2016), winner of the Golden Bear for Best Film at the Berlin Film Festival, in which he explores the stories of fishermen and migrants living on the island of Lampedusa.
The film documents Pope Francis’ numerous journeys, with glimpses into some of the 37 apostolic visits he has made to 59 countries, concluding with the trip to Malta in 2022. Each stage constitutes a piece of a mosaic that aims to show an outgoing Church, capable of touching the wounds and drying the tears generated by poverty, wars, power, exclusion and human and environmental exploitation.
The shot that comes up again and again is the one that shows the Holy Father from behind in the popemobile, moving through streets, surrounded by crowds that want to see him, hear him, touch him. The image conveys well the message of the movement toward the people, with that hand tirelessly continuing to bless, while his face seems to want to capture the moment reflected in the people’s gaze. Moments showing a pope in silence often appear, as he waits or listens, contemplating the whole world. This, perhaps, is also represented by the images of the cosmos taken from the International Space Station, where astronauts from different nations have learned to live together.
On the trip to Cuba, we see the pontiff’s cape is continually lifted by the wind, as if to symbolize a pope who desires a Church filled with the wind of the Spirit, who disrupts, bringing a new order into reality. This is a long, winding and exciting journey, composed of a series of official images.