Pope Francis Gets the Netflix Treatment in 'The Two Popes' Trailer

When Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation from the papacy in 2013, the news shocked the world. No Pope had done that since Gregory XII in 1415. Even more shocking, yet little reported, was the private meetings between Benedict and then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who would become Pope Francis. These dramatic meetings are the basis for the new Netflix film The Two Popes, starring Jonathan Pryce as Francis and Anthony Hopkins as Benedict.

Pope Francis Gets the Netflix Treatment in 'The Two Popes’ Trailer
Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict in the new Netflix film 'The Two Popes.' The film will premiere at the Telluride Film Festival over Labor Day weekend. YouTube / Netflix

The trailer paints the very different worlds the two men come from. Benedict is the ultimate Vatican insider: conservative, shut off from the progressive changes happening in the world. Cardinal Bergoglio is a simple priest, one connected with the regular people, who engages with the common person.

The film centers around Benedict, a traditional pontiff, having to find common ground with one of his harshest critics, setting the stage for Cardinal Bergoglio to become Pope Francis.

The differences in style can be summed up by the men's tastes in shoes. Benedict famously wore designer-made red slippers, which earned him the nickname "Pope Prada," while Bergoglio—then and now as Pope Francis—continues to wear a pair of simple black shoes.

"You've been one of my harshest critics," Hopkin's Benedict says to Pryce's Bergoglio. "They way you live is a criticism. Your shoes are a criticism."

"You don't like my shoes?" Pryce's Bergoglio responds, smiling.

Pope Francis Gets the Netflix Treatment in 'The Two Popes’ Trailer
Jonathan Pryce as then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) in the new Netflix film 'The Two Popes.' The film will premiere at the Telluride Film Festival over Labor Day weekend. YouTube / Netflix

At the time, the Catholic Church was at the height of the child sex abuse scandal, with much of the blame being put on Benedict for not responding and allegedly covering up sexual assault claims when he was a cardinal.

While Pope Benedict arguably tried to sweep controversies under the rug, Pope Francis, regularly called for the Catholic Church to modernize. Among his progressive moves, he allowed for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion.

"You think you know better," Hopkin as Benedict says in the trailer.

"You are no longer part of this world," Pryce as Bergoglio replies.

Benedict's resignation wasn't the only anomaly, Francis' assent to the papacy was just as surprising. He was the first Jesuit to become pope, the first pope from the Americas and the first pope elected from outside Europe since the 8th century when Syrian Gregory III reigned.

The Two Popes is directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener) and written by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything, Bohemian Rhapsody, Darkest Hour). It will premiere at the Telluride Film Festival this weekend, with a scheduled Netflix premiere for sometime in December.

It's one of many films Netflix has in various festivals this fall, all likely part of their campaign to actively compete for Academy Award recognition. Considering the amount of Oscar nominations the creative team behind The Two Popes have, it's a safe bet somebody will get recognized by the Academy, especially the two stars, Hopkins and Pryce. Hopkins won previously for Best Actor in The Silence of the Lambs in 1991 and has three additional nominations. Pryce, however, has never been nominated.

Pope Francis Gets the Netflix Treatment in 'The Two Popes' Trailer | Culture