Ben Nietzel
Ben Nietzel
Ben Nietzel works as the principal of Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School. He also enjoys coaching Muskie football and reviewing movies.

Muscatine Living

“Fatima” tells the story of three Portuguese children who saw the Virgin Mary appear in 1917.

Pro – Beautiful

“Fatima” is a story told in the present and past. Most of the film takes place in 1917 Portugal in the small town of Fatima. These parts of the film are shot in a muted look, and the recreation of that time is fantastic. It’s always magical when a movie is able to recreate a by-gone era and make the viewer feel like they are stepping into that place. “Fatima” does that so well. This part of the film is told from the perspective of the children, and it feels that way. A smaller segment of the film takes place in 1989 as one of the visionaries, Sister Lucia, answers questions and recounts her story to professional skeptic, Professor Nichols, played by Harvey Keitel. The movie looks and feels more modern during this part. It’s not a new trick, but it works so very well here.

Pro – message

“Fatima” will have different things to say to different viewers. Those coming from a Catholic perspective will be amazed at a connection they will feel with this movie. It also is a fascinating look into the Catholic view of miracles and how the Church works through and processes miraculous claims.

From those coming from outside that faith or curiosity, “Fatima” is ultimately a movie about sacrifice and a willingness to stick by one’s convictions. What is compelling about “Fatima” is the courage of the children to stand by those convictions in the face of skepticism not just from adults, but from adults they care most about. Parents will understand the tension of those adults in the movie who deeply want to believe their children and protect them, but who also know full well the ability of children to tell tales. As a Catholic, one would be fair in suggesting I might have trouble divorcing myself from that viewpoint in viewing this film, there is a well-crafted message within this wholesome film for all.

Neutral – You

It gets said a lot, but “Fatima” is truly a film that will be for specific audiences. This is not a movie that everyone is going to like, nor want to see. Part of the amazing thing about this movie is that such a niche film could get made is such a big screen way. Those craving Hollywood escapism or who find themselves annoyed by all things Roman Catholic should rightly give this film a pass.

That said, this film does have more appeal than one might think. There is a place for solid, wholesome entertainment with positive message, especially in these times, and “Fatima” hits that mark. The acting is very good as well, and special mention should be made of Stephania Gil who plays Lucia (younger) and Lucia Moniz who plays her mother Maria. Their dynamic is great and makes the film really work.


“Fatima” is not a movie for all audiences, but it is a movie for more people than one might thing. Beautifully shot, well-acted, and filled with positive messaging, “Fatima” is a religious movie that looks and feels like a big-budget Hollywood film. Take your horse and cart down to the Fridley Palms Theater to check this film out while you still can.

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