Corpus Christi, directed by Jan Komasa, is a Polish hit and a critically acclaimed film representing its country at this year Academy Awards. Inspired by real events, it follows Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia), a wide-eyed 20-year-old man who found God while in a prison for young adults and juvenile delinquents. His detention center is particularly violent, and he has a brutal experience. It is a place where youngsters are organized in gangs, and wait for any opportunity where the guards are away to shame and beat other inmates who do not fit their ideals, or simply for fun. Daniel might be locked with these detainees for similar reasons, but he is not like most of them as he does not want to partake in their beating rounds. He prefers to pray in his room, or when he gets a chance to sing religious hymns while assisting the prison preacher, Priest Tomasz (Lukasz Simlat seen in another Polish “priesthood film” In the Name Of ) during his sermons at the prison.
“…real stories of people pretending to be clergyman, and possibly believing it by redefining what it means to be a man of the cloth…”
One day, a “bad-guy” looking dude named Bonus returns to their center. He is an ex-con and the brother of Daniel’s victim looking for bloody revenge. But it is Daniel’s lucky day as he is released on parole or good behavior before Bonus gets a chance to hurt him truly or worse. With the help of the priest who put in a good word for him, he will be able to start a new life far away from his previous troubles at a wood workshop in a small town sawmill. But Daniel is reluctant as he does not want to be a simple carpenter; he wants to be a priest too. Unfortunately, because of the gravity of his past crimes, he is forbidden to become one and attend a seminary. At the same time, we can see that our protagonist is not entirely ready for the strict discipline of being a “man of God,” just after his release, he meets with old friends to celebrate on an all-night bender filled excess and sins. After that night, Daniel heads north of the country as planned, and, after a bus trip, he arrives in what could as well be a field in the middle of nowhere. He passes by the sawmill but sees no future for him there, so he decides to follow his heart, or, the voice of God in his head. He will push his luck and go against the rules (and his parole): instead of training to be a humble carpenter like Jesus, he will spread His word like a 2.0 apostle. Hence, Daniel goes to the nearest town, guided by the church bells.
"…is definitely not your typical religious movie..."
What did you make of the ending? I found the film captivating throughout and it really struck a chord with me but then I wasn’t sure why the filmmakers decided to end on that note (or what that note even was exactly)…
At one point, I thought (and sort of wished) that it would end with the institutionalized dogma back in its comfortable place as it had always been and with Daniel’s brand of theology finally, sadly dismissed as false and heretic just because it came from the mouth of a “convict” (a word which, according the film’s philosophy, simply means someone who society has decided is more guilty than they are, because they need to believe in this hierarchical system that classifies people based on goodness and meritocracy).
But… the film didn’t go there and instead took a turn to a rather strange place. That’s not a bad thing per se, but I’m not sure I grasped what it was going for. Any thoughts?