Video: Pope John Paul II now a cartoon star

updated 10/17/2006 9:49:46 AM ET 2006-10-17T13:49:46

No one expects it to replace Alice in Wonderland or Cinderella, but the Vatican has turned to a talking pen and pigeons in a new cartoon movie to teach children about the life of the late Pope John Paul.

The film, called “John Paul II, the Friend of Humanity,” was unveiled at a news conference on Tuesday and its producers hope it will be a big hit for the coming Christmas season.

“The idea was to present the human side of John Paul as the best way to bring him close to children and families,” said J.L.  Lopez-Guardia, a Spanish animation artist who goes by the professional name Cavin Cooper.

“We thought animated characters could do it best,” he said.

The movie, which has been made initially in eight languages and will be released only on DVD, starts with a talking diary, named Matteo, and a talking pen named Quill Simona. Both reside on John Paul’s writing desk in the private papal office.

The story starts on April 2, 2005, the night he died.

“Quill Simona, it looks like the Holy Father hasn’t moved from his private apartment and hasn’t come to write anything at all in his personal diary as he used to,” the book, personified by a male voice, tells the pen, who sports a female voice, in the English version.

“I think, Matteo, that he must be feeling very bad. It’s such a pity,” says the pen.

Bells begin to toll outside in St Peter’s Square and they realize something is seriously wrong.

Doves carry dialogue
The next morning two doves take over the dialogue.

“Hi guys, we’re Piccolo and Fiona, John Paul II’s bosom pigeons. The Holy Father died in peace last night at 9:37 p.m. in his private apartment,” one dove tells the book and the pen.

“He knew he was going to meet the grandfather. He suffered everything with serenity ... God bless you John Paul II. May your memorial stay in our hearts forever.”

From that point on, the talking doves, pen and book take the viewer through a cartoon version of the life of John Paul, from his birth in Poland in 1920, through World War II, to his days in communist Poland, his election and his 27-year papacy.

After 30 minutes of animation, the second half of the hour-long DVD is made up of real film clips of his papacy shown as a narrator reads some of his most famous sayings.

“This is a useful tool for a family gathered in front of the TV to remember the life of this great pope,” Archbishop John Foley, an American who heads the Vatican’s communications department, told reporters.

Lopez-Guardia, said 22 artists worked on the DVD, which the company hopes to market in 30 countries before Christmas.

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