The Divine Plan by Robert Orlando is a fascinating documentary on friendship and cooperation between John Paul II and Ronald Reagan which changed the fate of the world.
Based in part on captivating prose by Paul Kengor from his book A Pope & A President, the film discusses the American victory in the Cold War and its spiritual dimension. It explores the biographies of the two charismatic leaders to find the sources of their extraordinary commitment to the cause of vanquishing of the “Evil Empire” of the Soviets. The Pope and the American President both barely survived assassination attempts, which gave them moral resolve and the sense of purpose. They both understood that it was necessary not only to continue to fight the Cold War against the Soviet Union but also finally to win it. They believed this was a Divine Plan and that they played two indispensable, mysteriously complementary parts in it.
For eighty minutes, Robert Orlando skillfully weaves a sophisticated tapestry of historians’ accounts, personal biographies of the two leaders, memories of collaborators and friends, and original film footage to create a powerful and persuasive vision of the 8th decade of the 20th century. He takes the viewer for a fascinating trip around the bipolar world – America, Italy, communist Poland, Bulgaria, and Russia – to explicate the backstage of the world events. He leads us through the corridors of power in Washington, elegant paths of Vatican gardens, and the dark labyrinth of the Kremlin to prove that what we take for granted in our past may well have unfolded differently, and definitely less fortunately, more than once.
Another strong aspect of the film is the combination of various art forms – interviews and original film footage of historic events intertwine with animated cadres, which adds to the dynamism and suspense of the story.
The Divine Plan is a masterful account of historic events, which sheds additional light on the official narratives. It is a good reminder to those who are slowly starting to forget the chilling times of the Cold War. To those who never knew them, it is an eye-opening lesson of modern history. To all of us who have lived through 1980s, it is an invaluable document and witness to the power of courageous vision, determination despite suffering, humility of leaders, and their trust in the Divine Plan of Providence.