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Pope Joan (2009)

Die Päpstin (original title)
A woman of English extraction born in the German city of Ingelheim in the ninth century disguises herself as a man and rises through the Vatican ranks.



(novel), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lotte Flack ...
Tigerlily Hutchinson ...
Joan's mother


German village Igelheim's backward priest hopes his sons to succeed him after education in the bishop's cathedral school, but the elder succumbs to disease and the youngest lacks any intellectual drive. Traveling teacher Aesculapius arranges for the inquisitive daughter Johanna to be enrolled too, against their father's wishes. Unfit for the boys-only dorm, she gets to stay with count Gerold, incurring his wife's due jealousy. She's to be dismissed, but survives a Viking pillaging slaughter and assumes brother Johannes's identity to join a monastery, where she becomes the infirmary's trainee. Fleeing exposure as female, she arrives in Rome. As a protégée of rivals in the viper nest-like papal court, she ends up elected as pope, but carries count Gerold's baby, guaranteeing exposure. Written by KGF Vissers

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Drama | Romance


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Release Date:

22 October 2009 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Pope Joan  »

Box Office


€22,000,000 (estimated)

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Did You Know?


The film is based on the popular story of the 'female Pope' that has become widespread since the Middle Ages and thereafter. Pope Joan has been mentioned in works that were released several centuries after her supposed reign. Most modern scholars have dismissed the stories as fictional, due to lack of contemporary documentation, and the debunking of indirect evidence. Many theories abound that the lack of evidence is the result of successful attempts by the Catholic Church to erase Joan's existence from history. The matter therefore remains controversial. See more »


House Steward: Pardon me, Eminence. The girl has arrived. You had her fetched from Ingelheim.
Fulgentius: Oh yes, now I remember. That Greek scholar's idea. But am I seeing double?
House Steward: The boy is her brother. Their father, a Priest, insists that he too be allowed to attend the Scola.
Fulgentius: What do you know? I send for one and get two! If only the Emperor were as generous as these holy men from the countryside!
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Version of Pope Joan (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

Magnificent film by Sönke Wortmann with an interesting topic to discuss.
22 April 2012 | by (Spain) – See all my reviews

One of the most intriguing legends of history: the life of Pope Joan, a young German woman who became pope in the ninth century by posing as a man.

Based on the novel by Donna Woolfolk Cross, " Pope Joan " describes the history of "Johanna", daughter of a priest and a pagan. The film, narrated in third person, always poses a pace and tone up, the life of a woman dedicated to serving others.

Highlight of the film two aspects of this myth. The toddler stage of the child, where we impregnated onto the bottom of a being who wishes to discern, because from childhood, "Johanna" I urge the desire for more knowledge, even though the religious power of the time, prevented women from learning to read and write.

The second idea, reveals and shows a woman who faced the atrocities of the time, faces and see their spiritual and actual circumstances as a woman. We also noticed, as very positive aspect, the interpretation of German actress Johanna Wokalek, who plays the female protagonist of the scandalous story is told in the film. She achieved a solid and convincing performance, not only records but also dramatic in its production aesthetics, as there are parts of the film that really short hair like a man. It is undoubtedly a high point in the film involving the actress.

"Die Päpstin" presents an interesting topic. Anyway, the end of the movie leaves open the door of treachery and deceit to open the debate. It's a great work of film director Sönke Wortmann, because without a camera enforced, shows the features of a story yet to be discussed.

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