To Kill a Priest

Overview

One of the first films by Polish director Agnieszka Holland to gain international acclaim, this drama is a joint French-American production based loosely on the real-life story of the dissident Polish priest Jerzy Popieluszko. In the early 1980s, as the democracy and labor movement known as Solidarity was challenging Soviet authority in Poland, an outspoken priest, Father Alek Christopher Lambert, defies martial law and continues to rally followers around the cause of Solidarity. The Soviet-controlled Polish ...
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Overview

One of the first films by Polish director Agnieszka Holland to gain international acclaim, this drama is a joint French-American production based loosely on the real-life story of the dissident Polish priest Jerzy Popieluszko. In the early 1980s, as the democracy and labor movement known as Solidarity was challenging Soviet authority in Poland, an outspoken priest, Father Alek Christopher Lambert, defies martial law and continues to rally followers around the cause of Solidarity. The Soviet-controlled Polish government enlists a police official, Stefan Ed Harris, to stop the priest. Stefan, a devoted party follower, finds that the only way he can silence Father Alek is to have him killed. Along the way, however, the priest has a profound influence on Stefan. Among those in minor roles are Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, Pete Postlethwaite, and Tim Roth. Holland would go on to direct The Secret Garden and Washington Square. ~ Michael Betzold
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard
Although it lacks the tragicomic punch of Europa, Europa, her next directorial effort, this thoughtful 1989 film by Polish New Wave director Agnieszka Holland explores the same themes of sullied ideals and institutional barbarism that thread through much of her varied oeuvre. Ed Harris gives a compelling lead performance as Stefan, the Communist loyalist let down by his party and inexplicably stirred by the activism of a priest. Pete Postlethwaite, Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, and several others also make fine supporting turns, although they're hampered somewhat by the dizzying array of accents in this English-language film about a Polish labor movement. Christopher Lambert isn't very charismatic as the dissident priest, but he really isn't the center of attention, anyway. No, the real problem with this film is that in its quest to paint in shades of gray, it never really renders much of a portrait at all. There's lots of business about the troubled marriage and tortured childhood of Harris' party loyalist and all sorts of gruesome semi-slapstick about the murder itself. Yet Holland's screenplay is never sure whether it's a moral inquiry, a melodrama, or a murder mystery. The Third Miracle, which reunited the director with her leading man, fairly successfully borrowed the trappings of suspense and courtroom drama to explore similar themes of faith, skepticism, and loyalty. To Kill a Priest never finds the right structure to lean on, and as a result it sort of falls flat.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/1/2011
  • UPC: 043396377981
  • Original Release: 1989
  • Rating:

  • Source: Sony Pictures Home
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 47,230

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Christopher Lambert Father Alek
Ed Harris Stefan
Joanne Whalley Anna
Joss Ackland Colonel
David Suchet Bishop
Tim Roth Feliks
Pete Postlethwaite Joseph
Cherie Lunghi Halina
Gregor Fisher Fr. Irek
Charles Condou Mirek
André Chaumeau Wacek
Vincent Grass Volak
Nicolas Serreau Staszek
Brian Glover Minister
Paul Crauchet Alek's Father
Janine Darcey Alek's Mother
Wojciech Pszoniak Bridge Player
Georges Birt
Huguette Faget
Jerome Flynn
Anne Marie Pisani
Timothy Spall Igor
Tom Radcliffe Young Soldier
Eugeniusz Priwieziencew
Boguslawa Schubert
Jean-Pierre Stewart
Nick Taylor
Philip Whitchurch
Matyelok Gibbs Colonel's Wife
Technical Credits
Agnieszka Holland Director, Screenwriter
Jean-Pierre Alessandri Executive Producer, Producer
Joan Baez Songwriter
Daniel Breton Stunts
Daniel Brisseau Sound/Sound Designer
Timothy Burrill Producer
Margot Capelier Casting
Mic Cheminal Costumes/Costume Designer
Michel Cheyko Asst. Director
Michael Cooper Associate Producer
Hervé de Luze Editor
Georges Delerue Score Composer
Jean-Charles Drevel Special Effects
Emile Ghigo Art Director, Production Designer
Priscilla John Casting
Gerard Lamps Sound/Sound Designer
Didier Lavergne Makeup
Jean-Yves Pitoun Screenwriter
Zbigniew Preisner Score Composer
Anna Sheppard Costumes/Costume Designer
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