Films that highlight the horrors of torture

Jun 14, 2023 | Blog Articles

During this month of June, Pope Francis invites us to pray for the abolition of torture: ” We pray that the international community may commit in a concrete way to ensuring the abolition of torture and guarantee support to victims and their families.” In light of this month’s intention, here are a pair of films to watch and discuss in our communities regarding the abolition of torture.

 Incendies by Denis Villeneuve (Canada, 2010, Rated R)

Jeanne and Simon Marwan are two twins who, at the opening of their mother’s will, receive two letters that they have to deliver to a father they thought was dead and a brother they didn’t know existed. For this they have to travel from Canada to Lebanon to try to locate them and learn more about their origins. The film is a cry of rage or a song full of pain in the midst of war, torture and violence; but also of love and redemption. In light of this heartbreaking film, let us take into account these words of Pope Francis pronounced after the Angelus on June 22, 2014, a few days before the commemoration of the United Nations Day for the Victims of Torture: “I ratify the I strongly condemn all types of torture and I invite Christians to commit themselves to collaborate in its abolition and support the victims and their families. Torturing people is a deadly sin. A very serious sin.”

In the Name of the Father (Ireland, 1993, Rated R)

This film is based on the true story of Gerry Conlon (played by Daniel Day-Lewis), an Irishman who was wrongfully imprisoned for the 1974 Guildford pub bombings. Sentenced to life in prison, many other Irishmen were forced into a false confession through physical and psychological torture used by the English authorities. These authorities deliberately denied and concealed such abuse. It brings to mind the words of Pope Francis in his address to the delegation of the International Association of Penal Law on October 23, 2014: “The adjective “cruel”; under these headings that I have mentioned, there is always that root: the human capacity for cruelty. This is a passion, a real vice! One form of torture is the one sometimes applied through confinement in high security prisons. With the pretext of offering greater security to society or special treatment for certain categories of prisoners, its main characteristic is none other than external isolation. […] This phenomenon, a characteristic of high security prisons, also occurs in other types of penitentiaries, along with other forms of physical and mental torture, the practice of which has spread.”

Not everyone will be able to watch these Rated R films, but if you do, you will become convicted of the inhumanity of torture and pray for its abolition.

Fr. Sergio Guzmán, S.J.
Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Mexico)

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