St. Maximilian Kolbe’s works and spirituality fuel “Two Crowns”

by Matthew Smith

North Texas Catholic

10/23/2020

The detailing of St. Maximilian Kolbe’s life in a new film, “Two Crowns,” feels fitting, speaking both to his era and our media saturated times.

St. Maximilian, born in 1894, early on became a fan of cinema, seeing in it both the drawbacks of the films of his youth and the opportunity to evangelize.

“We have to convert the cinema,” St. Maximilian said. “When we give the films the right direction, they will stop doing harm.”

“Two Crowns,” a docudrama starring Adam Woronowicz as St. Maximilian Kolbe, delves into St. Maximilian’s forays into media, from film to print to radio. More so, the film — through narration, reenactment, and historical footage — relays St. Maximilian’s accomplishment of the seemingly impossible time and time again through deep faith in God and triumph of hope.

“Viewers see not only [St. Maximilian’s] amazing works, but also extraordinary spirituality and charisma,” said Director Michal Kondrat, who also directed the docudrama “Love and Mercy: Faustina” which was released last year.

“Two Crowns” accomplishes both by striking a deft balance of substance and entertainment, wisely eschewing ham-fisted preachiness for a subtle delivery of drama, conflict, and biographical background leavened by moments of joy and wonder.

Two Crowns movie poster
Two Crowns movie poster

Canonized by Pope St. John Paul II in 1982, St. Maximilian, a Polish Franciscan priest, is most remembered for his 1941 death at 47 in the Auschwitz prison camp. The saint volunteered to take the place of a stranger — another prisoner sentenced to death by starvation.

“That message of hope in St. Maximilian’s life attracted me to the project,” said Oscar Delgado, associate producer of “Two Crowns.”

“Even in Auschwitz, in the darkest of the dark, he brought hope to people and was able to bring light,” Delgado told the NTC. “That’s what I hope people take away from the film, that message of hope and inspiration to not curse the darkness but be a light like he was.

“That and St. Maximilian’s trust in the providence of God,” he added. “How, through discernment and God’s providence, he was able to maneuver through obstacles and overcome naysayers to execute and fulfill the projects God inspired him to undertake.”

The film covers several such amazing events including St. Maximilian’s drawing and thoughts on space travel — well before such became practical or reality.

St. Maximilian’s designs of spacecraft, the film’s narrator intones, were not the work of an engineer but rather a visionary, albeit hardly fantasies. Several of St. Maximilian’s theories on the matter of astrophysics and space flight are said to have played into space travel planning decades later.

On a more spiritual note, the film retells St. Maximilian’s improbable, albeit ultimately successful, endeavors to spread the faith. St. Maximilian founded a magazine though he had no money and established a Franciscan monastery near the outskirts of Nagasaki, Japan, although he knew no one there and couldn’t speak the language — he simply did it because he felt called by God to do so.

Prophetic moments play throughout the film. Offered land in Nagasaki for the monastery, St. Maximilian demurs on building there because of his belief that a “great fireball” was coming. This was several years before the dropping of the atomic bomb.

Delgado, who has 35 years of experience in media, including work as a war correspondent, said that aspect too attracted him to the project.

movie scene from Two CrownsAuschwitz scene from Two Crowns
Scene set at Auschwitz from "Two Crowns"


“I was familiar with St. Maximilian before this film,” Delgado said. “I’ve had a special affinity for him as I love working in media and have always had an attraction to saints who understand the power of the media. And, with St. Maximilian, we see this prophetic knowing of media growth to come.”

“Two Crowns,” while a smaller budget film with largely unknown actors, excels at both informing and captivating the viewer. The docudrama approach over straight dramatization works well, allowing for additional context and explanation of the events covered. Better yet, it whets the appetite for searching out additional information on St. Maximilian’s life. The Auschwitz scenes may prove intense for younger viewers, but the film is otherwise family friendly.

The movie’s small budget and faith-based status brought both challenges and opportunities, according to Delgado.

“There’s no way to compete with the blockbusters,” Delgado said. “But we’re also working in a really nice niche where there’s an audience and place for films of faith, which tend to thrive through word of mouth.”

“Two Crowns” is scheduled to play one night only on Oct. 26 at multiple theaters in the Diocese of Fort Worth as well as throughout the country. Plans call for a DVD release and offering the movie on streaming services in the near future.

For screening locations and times, visit fathomevents.com.

Auschwitz movie scene from Two Crowns

The detailing of St. Maximilian Kolbe’s life in a new film, “Two Crowns,” feels fitting, speaking both to his era and our media saturated times.

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