Projections - Movie Reviews


The title of the film, Stigmata, refers to the occurrence of bleeding wounds which represent the five wounds which Jesus received when crucified.  These wounds consist of nails through the wrists or hands and feet, a spear through the side, scratch marks on the head from a crown of thorns and from the lashes he received on his back.  These wounds afflict those who are deeply religious and while they are not understood, they are not studied in detail either.  It is this mystery that Director Rupert Wainwright attempts to exploit.

Many of the films in these venue attempt to look to the future, to Armageddon, the four horsemen or other catastrophic events that are revealed in Revelation a book in the New Testament.  If you are baited by the trailers for this film, you will think it to be of the Exorcist or Omen culture. Stigmata actually looks to the past for its questions of God and ends up challenging perhaps the most powerful organization on the planet, the Catholic Church.

The story revolves around Frankie Paige, portrayed by Patricia Arquete, a 20 something hairdresser from Pittsburgh and Father Andrew Kiernan, played by Gabriel Byrne, as a Catholic Priest assigned to the Vatican due to his background as a scientist to debunk (they call it investigate) miracles.  The action begins with Paige receiving a package from her mother who is visiting Brazil.  The box contains a hodgepodge of items including a rosary.  Overnight, after contact with this rosary, Paige receives the first of the stigmata wounds, holes through both wrists.  While on a train a few days later, the second of the wounds appear in the form of lash marks on her back.  This time in the view of a priest who contacts the Vatican.

The Vatican dispatches Father Kiernan at the direction of Cardinal Vignielli to investigate.  The movie now moves into a wonderful dance between man and his beliefs as Father Kiernan must choose between the scientist he is/was and the Priest he has become.  Not only are the spiritual beliefs challenged, but the challenges of the flesh play a huge part in this delicate and intricate character interplay.

Father Kiernans inability to disprove this miracle raises the wrath of the Church and forces a conflict between Priest and Cardinal, as well as Priest and the organization to which he has dedicated his life.  It appears that the Catholic Church has now chosen this movie as their soap box to express their views from.  While this movie does not show religion in general in a positive light, it is still just a movie and to be so quick to condemn (I remember something about casting the first stone) will only help to drive the box office for this film.

The actors do a very good job, but this is not in the same class as The Prophecy, The Exorcist, or even The Omen.  If you want to see a fair film about the challenges of good and evil, and man versus beliefs, then you will not be disappointed.  If you are expecting a thriller, great special effects or even a challenge to your own beliefs, you will be disappointed.



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