The streaming platform Netflix was unable to film the movie "Two Popes", which opened in early December in the Vatican City's Sistine Chapel, and therefore created a replica of the even larger 15th century structure.
The production, directed by Brazilian Fernando Meirelles (“City of God” and “Blindness Essay”), discusses conversations between Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) and current Pope Francisco (Jonathan Pryce).
The story, which the US platform says is based on true facts, lies between 2012 and 2013, shortly before Pope Benedict XVI resigned and the rise of Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis.
Many of the conversations between the two Popes, with very different views of the world, took place in the Sistine Chapel, where both discuss aspects of the Catholic Church, contemplate Michelangelo frescoes and even share a pizza.
The dialogues could never have actually been recorded in the building, as the Vatican prohibits any kind of photography and / or on-site recordings. So Netflix was forced to build its Sistine Chapel – which is even larger than the original.
Tal tells the US newspaper Los Angeles TimesThe only option was to recreate the interior of the chapel for the recordings. And that's exactly what happened for ten weeks at the Cinecitta studios in Rome, Italy.
“Ours (Sistine Chapel) is actually one or two inches larger than the original. So we can technically build a larger Sistine Chapel, ”joked production designer Mark Tildesley, who also found venues in the city of Rome to replace all of the Vatican's many exteriors.
The whole process of construction was guided by Enrico Bruschini, a renowned historian who has written several books about the Vatican. "You know every corner of this place," said Meirelles de Bruschini, who also served as a consultant for the film.
At the end of the recordings, the set had to be dismantled, but some of them took part of the “Netflix Sistine Chapel” home. “Unfortunately, it had to be knocked down as the studio was needed for another project (…) But we cut small fragments and there are sections (of the Chapel built) in the offices and homes of various producers and crew members,” said Tildesley, quoted by the LA Times.
"Two Popes" has been nominated for four Golden Globes, including nominations for Best Actor and Best Drama Movie, but failed to win any category in the awards that were given early in the morning.