Maybe it’s because I’m Catholic, or because I love Rome, or because Gianfranco Pannone has so skillfully and sweetly told the story of young men in today’s Vatican Swiss Guards that I have so much affection for this wonderful documentary that premiered at Venice 72.
Probably all of the above, with the addition of the appeal of the protagonists, exemplary young men who have just arrived at Vatican City for their training, sincere and ready to work hard as part of L’Esercito Più Piccolo Del Mondo, The Smallest Army in the World.
The Swiss Guards, Italian Guardia Svizzera, are the Swiss soldiers responsible for the safety of the pope, the guys you see in the colorful old timey outfits guarding the doors at the Vatican. Often called “the world’s smallest army,” their role has gone from actual soldiers, to a more ceremonial role, and these days, back to actual bodyguards, particularly after the attempt to assassinate John Paul II.
Pannone has obviously taken the old adage “show, don’t tell” to heart, because he truly lets us into the Vatican, and into these young men’s lives. It’s fascinating, watching them learn Italian and everything else they need to know, and getting to know each other. I’d watch a L’Esercito Piu Piccolo Del Mondo, the sequel; I want to know more!
This could be a great TV reality show and I’d much rather watch the lives of these sweet guys than the Kardashians.