The Priest Of Ars: “The Wizard of Heaven”

I don’t know how much the French priest John Vianney in the old film, The Wizard of Heaven (1949), resembles the real John Vianney, who died in 1859, but I like and respect this atypical Marcel Blistene (director)-Rene Jolivet (screenwriter) achievement.  Vianney, acted by Georges Rollin, is a devout, sanguine, legalistic clergyman trying to convert the people of Ars.  I suppose those who do convert—and they’re definitely there—give up dancing, which the priest plainly hates.

Wizard is like a more supernatural Diary of a Country Priest (the film).  Satan contemptuously speaks to Vianney, and a crippled boy is healed by God.  Philosophical idealism leaves materialism in the dust.  The movie’s theme is reformation in the interest of upholding the cause of the Divine.  Sometimes, in fact, this is self-reformation.

(In French with English subtitles.  The French title is Le Sorcier du Ciel.)

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