It's Hard to Know What's True and What's Not in Netflix's 'The Two Popes'

Sara Belcher - Author

Apr. 15 2020, Updated 11:11 p.m. ET

two popes netflix true story
Source: Peter Mountain/Netflix

Netflix's new biographical drama The Two Popes is already nominated for four Golden Globe awards, including Best Motion Picture-Drama. The movie is meant to tell the story of the conversations between Pope Benedict and Pope Francis during the transition of power, as best as one can. 

But since so much of what goes on behind the scenes of the Vatican is kept completely secret, it's hard to know exactly what the true story is.

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Screenwriter Anthony McCarten said that the personalities of the popes are real.

It's impossible to know if the content of the conversations that happen in the movie are true — or how much of these conversations is based in truth since everything that happens in the Vatican is completely confidential. 

But one thing that screenwriter Anthony McCarten says he feels is completely accurate is his depiction of the Popes' characters.

two popes netflix
Source: Peter Mountain/Netflix
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"It has to be authentic. However you get there, you have to do justice to the subject," he told Newsweek. "You can never be sure you get it right, but when you do enough research, you try to love your characters equally. Then I've found that at the end of the day, when the subjects of my movies have been alive, they've approved of the portrait that I've drawn of them."

And that's true for Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, he says.

 "I knew that Francis is a humorous person and he loves to joke. And I knew that Benedict is something of a stranger to humor and that in itself is funny. I thought I could have some fun as a dramatist showing one guy telling a joke and the other guy not understanding the joke. A lot of the humor comes out of the odd couple nature of that relationship," he said.

In addition to the personalities of the Popes, a lot of the film's setting is true to the original story, as filming was done in some of the Argentina where some of the events mentioned took place.

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two popes
Source: Peter Mountain/Netflix

But there's no way to confirm the truth behind the actual conversations. 

Again, it's impossible to know what was actually said in the real conversations the film is about, so a lot of the content is likely based on assumptions from what little information we can know. 

Instead, Director Fernando Meirelles wanted to be able to tell a better story with what he had, which resulted in the final film.

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"I told myself, instead of making the film about a pope talking to a cardinal, I wanted to make a film about two men who disagree on everything trying to find common ground," he told Newsweek. "Very personal, very intimate. The camera is very close to them. There's a lot of jokes. You really understand who's behind that white cassock."

two popes spoilers
Source: Peter Mountain/Netflix

When is The Two Popes coming out on Netflix?

If you want to get an idea as to what makes this film Golden Globes-nomination worthy, don't worry — you'll get to watch it on Netflix this holiday season. The film, which was released in theaters on Nov. 27, will be available on the streaming platform starting Dec. 20.

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