Editor’s note: We’re beginning a new program at CatholicMom.com where you will see book, movie and product reviews by many of our contributors. Today, Jay Cuasay reviews The Triumph, a 90-minute documentary that chronicles the events that have taken place of pilgrims, priests and one of the visionaries of the little known, remote village of Medjugorje in Eastern Europe where alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary are occurring. You’ll see another review of this film next week by Lorrie Lane Dyer. LMH
June 2013 Trailer for The Triumph from Triumph Films on Vimeo.
I do not usually view overtly religious movies and can also be overly critical, since I once worked in the independent film industry as a festival prescreener. With a running time of about 1 hour and 50 minutes, most of the film follows Ben, a middle of the road skeptic and believer in his late 20s who comes to Medjugorge from Ohio to experience first hand the reports of apparitions and to watch Mirjana, to whom Mary the Queen of Peace has been revealing herself and giving “secret” messages to the world since 1981. We are given a cross section of the variety of religious pilgrims, who all appear as rather ordinary people. Additional time is spent visiting the nearby Cenacolo community, an intentional community that assists men with addictions find peace and wholeness, and a brief visit with an Imam from a nearby mosque.
I enjoyed meeting the various people and thought the film crew did a good job of presenting the beauty of the small village and the aura of peace amongst huge gathering of people from many different places. It was described at one point as being “a Catholic Woodstock.” The one on one moments with Mirjana are among the best in the film as she exudes warmth, joy and an attentive pastoral sensibility, especially when speaking with Ben in some of the finest down to earth spiritual direction I’ve seen. The Cenacolo community and its priestly representative, although a bit quirky, also presents a living example of humans seeking authentic living in humility of our weaknesses and service in love of God and neighbor.
While I wish more time had been spent with the Islamic community and felt the apocalyptic suggestive imagery of the movie to be its weaker parts, I found myself better centered and at peace by film’s end. Indeed as is said in the movie, despite some dire warnings and the sense that there are troubles ahead, Mirjana and other believers show an overwhelming gladness and joy because of the love of Mary, who reminds us of God’s fatherly love for us. Without”spoiling “the end” it’s not always clear what the title of the movie refers to: Is it Mary’s Triumph? God’s ultimate glory? Is it what each receives as their own miracle and transformation? For myself, I think of the hymn SERVANT SONG: “We are pilgrims on a journey, we are travelers on the road, we are meant to help each other, walk a mile and bear the load.”
Copyright 2013 Jay Cuasay