Rorate Caeli

Audio and video suggestions - Summer edition

On Midsummer Day 1944, Allied troops fought in Normandy and Soviet forces continued their unstoppable westward march. In Vienna, with death, misery and unspeakable crime all around a Reich that was about to crumble, Hans Knappertsbusch conducted the Philharmonic - including an inspiring performance of one of the most well-loved sets ever composed, the Brandenburg Concertos (here a recording of the 3zo, III-Allegro)

Six years later, Robert Bresson would direct his version of Georges Bernanos's most famous novel, Diary of a Country Priest (Journal d'un curé de campagne), released in 1951 - and fully available online (with English subtitles):


What about you: what are your audio and video suggestions for this summer (winter, for our readers in the Southern Hemisphere) - concerts, presentations, motion pictures that can delight and improve our Catholic life?

[We will have a book suggestions thread next week.]


rodrigo said...

Two excellent films from the Dardenne brothers:

THE SON (2002)

Both are profoundly Christian, without being especially "religious".

acardnal said...

"Into Great Silence" movie

Melchior Cano said...

Christopher Check's audio history series:

Adfero said...

Bells of St. Mary's. Shows a time when priests knew how to treat boys as boys and raise the to be men. For a modern movie, Seven Days in Utopia. Great Christian movie with Robert Duval, and remarkably rated G.

Aged parent said...

So that this doesn't turn into a mere list of "movies/music I like" I would gently suggest that one criteria that should be kept uppermost is this: was there art and intelligence that went into the creation of the music, or film.

Based on that criteria, I would offer a few titles that would be culturally if not spiritually enriching.


I could go on, but those are titles that are well worth a look.

In literature I would recommend that everyone read Christopher Hollis' brilliant THE MONSTROUS REGIMENT, if one wants to open one's eyes on how England lost the Faith.

In music...don't even get me started. From Beethoven to Bernard Herrmann there is LOTS out there.

Jim said...

What I consider one of the greatest religious movies ever made — "The 13th Day" about Our Lady of Fatima. It beautifully details the events of 1917 and provides much background on the three children and their families.

Also, "The Passion of Joan of Arc" (1928). This silent film, available on Criterion, stars Renee Maria Falconetti in her only movie role. Pauline Kael wrote, "It may be the finest performance ever recorded on film." Falconetti's performance is unforgettable.

Mike said...

Sophie Scholl

Wonderful film about the White Rose movement against the Nazis.

Clean as a whistle; inspiring; she was a devout Lutheran who worked closely with Catholics, was also inspired by Thomistic writings on justice, etc.

Unknown said...

This is a very helpful idea since I have found it difficult to find reviews of Catholic or Christian movies by Catholics. Some movies that were recommended to me:

- A Man for All Seasons (I have already watched this; it is wonderful)
- Of Gods and Men
- The Scarlet and the Black
- There Will Be Dragons
- Saints and Soldiers (not really Catholic, from what I can tell)

There is also a list of Catholic movies available on Netflix for those interested: I don't know which ones are good on that list, though.

Kathleen said...

For Greater Glory

A well done telling of the story of the Cristeros. I'm sure most have seen it but for those that haven't it's well worth it.

Julie Collorafi said...

Called the greatest piece of music for all people of all time, Bach's Mass in B minor, directed by John Eliot Gardener is worth some serious study.

One of my favorite Catholic moves is The Scarlet and the Black, starring Gregory Peck and Christopher Plummer, packed with all the best elements of movie making.

Peterman said...

A few years ago I did a study of French cinema. Like everything else the French do they do cinema to perfection and they even defined most terms used worldwide in cinema today. I could not however get into "Diary of a Country Priest". To me it seemed like an attack on the Church but perhaps I just wasn't understanding clearly.

A favorite French Catholic movie I enjoy is "Le Ballon Rouge". This film is very Catholic. The ballon being Christ and at the end ascends to calvary, is stopmped on, destroyed and then reborn and soars into the heavens.
There are also other little clues in the film that director Albert Lamorisse leaves for us to discover such as a certain group of people who can't recognize or don't see the balloon for what it is (Christ). This film is a beautiful look at a Paris that except for Montmarte, doesn't exist anymore as it was torn down to make way for immigrant project buildings.

This is a film to own, not rent.

Simeon said...

I hope to get the audio for the War of the Vendee and also the Cristeros story from Angelus Press.
Other than that...I can't get enough of the audio sermons from the SSPX websites myself.

I do love The Quiet Man and How Green Was My Valley. Anything depicting the wonderful struggles of people in simpler times on black and white film is my idea of entertainment that soothes the soul.

New Catholic said...

Peterman, it is not at all an attack on the Church, how could it be? And the great truly religious lessons come straight from Bernanos's words, so no harm done.


Song of Bernadette said...

All I know is the one place NOT to look for recommended films is the USCCB.

Gratias said...

Cristeros (Soldiers of Chirist) video

This is a 15-min YouTube video of interviews with real Cristero soldiers.

Anonymous said...

I can highly recommend "Teresa of Avila," available from Ignatius Press. It is a beautiful and eminently Catholic account of the life of the great St. Teresa. Unlike, some Catholic movies, the liturgical elements are faithfully done (with one small exception). More importantly, the thought and mysticism of both St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross are conveyed very well. P. Domingo Banez is also depicted; what more could a zealous Catholic want?
--Fr. Capreolus

Gratias said...

Why Beauty Matters Roger Scruton YouTube

This is a 1-hour BBC documentary on the importance of architecture and beauty in our lives. Important to reflect on what VC2 wrought. Robert Scruton is probably one of the most distinguished living philosophers. Highly recommended, and it is free.

Gratias said...

Audio of two Conferences by Fr. James Fryar FSSP are freely available. They are about 40 min each. Go to

Una Voce Ventura

Then click on Resources. They are conferences on:

The place of Holy Mass in our daily lives.
On Sacraments and Sacramentals

If you visit, also check out the Photo Gallery of our beautiful Sung Mass, every-Sunday at 1:30 pm at Ventura Mission.

Peterman said...

I agree with Fr. Capreolus about Teresa of Avila, this is a GREAT movie with outstanding acting.

With Diary of a Country priest I thought they portrayed the priest as too depressed about his vocation which made me thing maybe they were dragging down the priesthood. Similarly The Decalogue by Krzysztof Kieslowski I found to be masterful work and very entertaining but a bit dark for my taste.

French cinema does tend to be dark often times, they don't believe in the contrived sunshine and rainbows endings like Hollywood.

New Catholic said...

He was never depressed about his vocation: he was in the constant presence of the Agony of the Lord. You really ought to watch it again with a more adequate view of the problems involved: a deeply spiritual young priest meets a deeply worldly parish. He brings grace, in any event, through his visible sacrifice and humiliation and unjust accusations, all of which he accepted. A great book, and a great film adaptation of it.

Steve Mosquera said...

This may seem strange but I'd like to find a film where the church hierarchy is not depicted as corrupt, worldly, or otherwise only power hungry... I honestly cannot think of a movie like that.

Most modern (and even classic) films use the "Evil Cardinal" theme to excess.

Any recommendations ?

Iustinus said...

Maria Goretti (2003). I am a man that almost never cry but watching this movie is one of those rare occasions that made me on tears.

authoressaurus said...

Beckett, starring Richard Burton. Every bit as timely as A Man for All Seasons.

A Faithful Reader said...

Can people please say which suggestions are or are not appropriate for family viewing? Thank you!

Miles Dei said...

About the end of the book and its "leif motive" is necessary a good commentary like this.

"If everything is grace there is no longer grace" By Cardinal Georges Cottier, OP

Peccator said...

I recommend Father Isaac Relyea's Lenten Retreat on the Four Last Things. The four audio files can be found at

Elizabeth said...

So many good movies but a recent one that I loved was Joyeux Noel, depicting the true story (with poetic license I'm sure) of a spontaneous cease-fire on a battleground (WWI) on Christmas Eve.

It was such a moving story overall, particularly the scene of the Holy Mass. I won't give anymore of it away for those who haven't seen it. Really good.

There's so many old classics that highlight Catholics in big and small ways, but I'll just leave it at the current Joyeux Noel!

Thanks for this thread. I'm loving getting all these great recommendations. And looking forward to the book recommendations too.

Adfero said...

Peccatir, I was just about to suggest that as well!

Adfero said...

In fact I posted them on Rorate last February, here's the link for all four parts. Life changing:

Dr. Timothy J. Williams said...

I have been teaching and writing about French cinema for many years. I would second those who recommend "La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc," which should be viewed with the musical accompaniment of Richard Einhorn (on the Criterion DVD). Though a film from the silent era, it is one of the greratest films of all time.

Anonymous said...

The Trollhunter--netflix streaming. About -- denial. Jan

Jeremiah Methuselah said...

Probably, I am missing something, but is there a reason why links for downloading or viewing these films is not given ? Are all these films for sale or hire or what ?

The Bernanos book, which I have read at least three times, I even have a copy somewhere, has always caused me some serious reflections, it is not open and shut. I’m sorry NC, about that, but to watch the film might provide another perspective, although it is a long time since I read the book.

And, peterman, I am not entirely with you : “Like everything else the French do they do cinema to perfection and they even defined most terms used worldwide in cinema today”. Are you certain about that ?

In many years of watching French films I have found they usually introduce sex whenever they can : a little nudity, a suggestion or two of decadence and so on, which do tend to corrupt. I speak as a very long-time admirer of French ciné.

Peterman said...

Jeremiah, I should clarify, I haven't seen a newly made French film since Amelie. French cinema much like American cinema doesn't exist anymore which is why haven't seen an American movie at the cinema since The Passion of the Christ. Rather, I revel in the past and since I haven't seen most of these films they're all new for me to enjoy. I watched "Bad Day at Blackrock" about 6 months ago for the first time. What a great western and completely free of nudity and garbage of modern movies.Unfortunately for Christians we ca only look back to the times when people had some morals and made films the family could watch.

Neal said...

Gran Torino is sort of a Catholic movie.
Tree of Life is at least Christian, if you ask Fr. Barron, and as a bonus, it's fantastic.
Both are for grown-ups only.

Mirari said...

Black Robe (about the Jesuit missionaries in New France) and Silence (about the Jesuit missionaries in Japan and the Japanese martyrs). The only thing I regret about both films is that they contain one or two explicit scenes.

Mar said...

Book:"The Battle of the Villa Fiorita" by Rumer Godden, first published in 1963, and set on the shores of Lake Garda in Italy. In the Preface Rumer Godden writes as follows.

The Battle of the Villa Fiorita was written because I had grown tired of the innumerable novels about child victims of divorce. 'Let's have a book where the
children will not be victims but fight back,' I thought and, in the book, the children, a school-age boy and girl, instead of going miserably back to school, run away to Italy where their mother had absconded with a film director, determined to fetch her back. No book of mine has been more unpopular, especially in America.

When it was filmed ... actress after actress refused to play the part of the mother because it was too near the bone. ... Finally Maureen O'Hara took the part and gave the best performance of her career.

End of quote.

The book is a very good read. I have not seen the film. It was made in 1965.

Mar said...

Film: "The Whipping Boy", made in 1994. This is a family film. The main protagonists are two boys, and the younger sister of one of them is also involved. There is a high level of innocence in this film. All explicitly religious-ethical references (there are not
many) are very positive. Because of the values portrayed in the film, and the way in which they are portrayed, it would most likely be considered politically incorrect, which probably explains why I bought it new for $1!

The film is well-made and readily engages and holds one's attention. The child actors give splendid performances. A short while after I had lent it to a large family in our traditional latin Mass community, the mother told me that her boys had already watched it three times!