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Studio Interior 1, Stanisław Wyspiański


A Spotlight on Culture

Through reviews and longer articles, ArteFact keeps a finger on the pulse of how our culture is reflecting on itself.

Film Fiction Theatre Music Poetry
Review |  Film

Broken Beggars

“The real protagonist of history is the beggar.” In sharing this insight, Luigi Giussani underscores that real significance lies in the connection and encounter between individuals in their mutual humility, need, and search for fulfillment.

Living, the 2022 British period drama directed by Oliver Hermanus, is a film adapted from Kurosawa’s Ikiru (1952), itself inspired by Tolstoy’s novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Like its predecessors, the movie explores a middle-aged bureaucrat’s reaction to his terminal diagnosis (Mr. Williams portrayed by Bill Nighy in a Best Actor Oscar-nominated performance) as he struggles to discern if he has lived a meaningful life and, if not, what he needs to do to correct things. We will see that it is only through an attitude of vulnerability and humility—that of the beggar—that the other is lead to response to these needs.

Article |  Film

Barbie and Life in the Unity of Life and Death

Girls have always had dolls. These dolls were models of little girls. Playing with dolls, real girls would play at being mothers. That is, until Barbie: a doll that is simply a woman. In the opening scene of Greta Gerwig's Barbie (2023), Barbie appears (as a ninety-foot-tall Margot Robbie) and we watch as all the little girls smash their girl dolls on the ground. Upon seeing this, I thought to myself: this is abortion, this is contraception, this is independent womanhood opposed to motherhood: this is life (independence, self-standing) against death (separation, motherhood, letting be, being fruitful in another).

Review |  Film

Marriage and the Monarchy

Although the title of Peter Morgan’s The Crown suggests a story about the monarchy and politics, the driving force of the Netflix original series is marriage. And, considering how the latest season ended with the breakdown of the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana of Wales, it is beneficial to explore the theme of marriage thus far in the series, in order to enter thoughtfully into the anticipated fifth season’s treatment of the subject this coming fall.

Review |  Film

Gawain, the Green Knight and the Choice between Witchcraft and Sacrament

“Look, see a world that holds more wonders than any since the earth was born . . .”

So begins writer and director David Lowry’s The Green Knight (2021), an adaptation of the 14th century Arthurian legend, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This first line establishes the theme that animates the film: that our world is stranger than we can ever fathom, full of mystery and enchantment, and it is how we respond to this mystical order that occupies our lives.

Humanum: Issues in Family, Culture & Science
Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
620 Michigan Ave. N.E. (McGivney Hall)
Washington, DC 20064