On Scene: The Pope, Watching The Pope

Pope Benedict XVI and 3,000 guests got a private screening of "John Paul II" (dubbed into Italian) at the Vatican last week. (CBS will air it in English next month as a two-part mini-series.) The papal throne was placed smack in the middle of the room, surrounded by the actors (Jon Voight played JPII), and a mix of Hollywood and Holy See hangers-on. Voight-as-Wojtila spends much of the film dying--something that Vatican insiders already witnessed during the pope's painfully long illnesses. The film did offer unprecedented access, even scenes inside JPII's private apartment--touchingly simple and austere, though dominated by a massive Polish crucifix. But it doesn't reveal much about this extraordinary man. Despite (or because of) the input from Vatican insiders, the script reads as if it were written by the Vatican press office. And perhaps it was: official spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls gets an acknowledgment, and his character plays a flattering supporting role. When the film ended, the new pope stayed bethroned and raptly read the credits to the very end.