The Nazis have occupied Rome, and a priest named Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty is hiding thousands of Jews and escaped allied soldiers. All the while he is being stalked by the man who once wooed us with his lip-synced rendition of “Adelvice.”
This movie is actually based on a true story. That story was first documented in a book called The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican. O’Flaherty actually disguised himself to sneak in and out of the Vatican to help people — all while the Gestapo was out to get him. This was one incredible man.
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: Since this movie was filmed in the early 1980s, the music in the background is sort of like the homely instrumental offspring Air Supply and Twisted Sister.
At the beginning of the movie, the Nazis literally draw a white line around the borders of the neutral Vatican territory in Rome. When the pope learns of this, he says, “This white line isn’t meant merely to keep [the Nazis] out — it is a reminder to us of our authority – how far we can go.”
And yet, one man refused to let that white line dictate how far his responsibility reached. Monsignor O’Flaherty felt the Holy Spirit of God telling him he had the power to help those who could not help themselves, and he refused to ignore that prompting by embracing easy excuses. He understood that duty to God trumps duty to men any day of the week.
Col. Kappler: I know what you think of me, you and your church, but you forget I have my orders. I’m a soldier. I do my duty.
O’Flaherty: You can’t hide behind that, Kappler. Don’t debase the word ‘duty.’
Now I’m not advocating a revolution against all authority or suggesting we defy whatever laws of government we happen to disagree with. What I am saying is that if we live in such a way that we can easily discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will have the wisdom and perspective to recognize which causes are worth breaking the rules for. Says Monsignor O’Flaherty:
Do what is right come hell or high water, and God will give you the upper hand.
“We ought to obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29