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The 13th Day: The True Story of Fatima.


The True Story of Fatima

DIRECTED BY Ian and Dominic Higgins + PRODUCED BY Ignatius Press, 2009

ASIN: B002LDCZCU, RUN TIME: 85 minutes; PRICE: $24.95USD


Taken from excerpts of Lucia dos Santos' memoirs of the events, The 13th Day recounts the apparitions of Our Lady to three young shepherds at Fatima, Portugal, from May 13th to October 13th, 1917. In the opening scene, the year is 1937 and now-Sister Lucia is found writing her memoirs at the behest of her superiors at the convent. As she describes it, "In Fatima, we were lucky. It seemed to us as if our lives went on as normal." For the rest of the world outside this little village, life was changing rapidly due to the turmoil of the First World War.


In the village of Fatima, Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto are tending their family's flock of sheep. Suddenly, they notice a bolt of lightning, and a bright glow settling above the branches of an oak tree over the Cova da Iria. Thus begins a series of apparitions that will change their lives forever.

A beautiful lady asks them if they are willing to offer to God their suffering in reparation for the sins committed against Him, to save souls from Hell. The children consent to do so, and the lady instructs them to return to the Cova on the 13th of every month for the next 6 months. The following month, on June 13th, she appears as promised. She reveals to them Hell itself, important secrets, and predictions regarding the end of World War I, the start of World War II, and the attempted assassination of the Pope.

Even though the children agree it is best to keep the apparitions a secret, young Jacinta can hardly contain her excitement and finds herself telling her parents about the beautiful lady at the Cova. Soon, Lucia's mother hears the story, and is furious, believing her daughter is encouraging her younger cousins to lie. She even blames Lucia's father, who seems to believe Lucia, for filling their daughter's head with "fairy stories" The families decide to take the children to the parish priest, presumably to get the truth from them once and for all. However, they are startled when the children persist in repeating their story to the priest, who seems to think that they have witnessed a supernatural occurrence, albeit an evil one.

Soon the entire village has caught wind of the "little seers," and Lucia finds herself the subject of much ridicule and malicious gossip from neighbours. Amidst the turmoil, she is torn between her desire to see the beautiful lady again, and the persecution of the villagers. Despite her fear of incurring her mother's wrath and the bullying she has had to endure, she returns to the Cova each month. Then other villagers flock to the site in hope of catching a glimpse of the purported apparition. It is not long before the local government takes an interest in the children and the predictions they have received. On August 13th, 1917, the three children are abducted and brought to the local jail where they are interrogated and threatened with torture and death. All three children refuse to reveal the secrets entrusted to them by Our Lady, and are eventually released.

Then, 6 months after the first apparition, Our Lady agrees to perform a miracle that can be seen by everyone to validate the children's claims the Miracle of the Sun. The viewer is brought to understand that this amazing miracle, witnessed by 70,000 people, undeniably happened.

The film is shot primarily in black and white, with bursts of colour illustrating vividly the impact the heavenly apparition has on the children. Radiant beams of light illuminate the darkness of otherwise monochromatic scenes, creating a water-colour effect that cues the viewer that something supernatural is about to occur. This use of colour proves most effective in the second-last scene of the film, when the famed Miracle of the Sun is depicted. This is incorporated with still photographs taken at the site on that day in October, 1917. The use of historical images is stunning in its ability to place the film beyond the realms of fiction. Overall, it is a beautiful depiction of the miracle of Fatima.

Carla Lopez studied film and music at York University. She is a regular reviewer. Carla has also worked as a music director for two productions in New York city.

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Author:Lopez, Carla
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Movie review
Date:Dec 1, 2009
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