Dir: Rupert Wainwright
Star: Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne, Jonathan Pryce
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1999
Format: DVD R2

Stigmata tells the story of a young hairdresser Frankie Paige (Patricia Arquette), Frankie is in her early twenties and seems comfortable with her life, she has a steady boyfriend, friends and enjoys going to alternative clubs of an evening. Frankie’s mother is deeply religious and we are led to believe that she does not agree with her daughters lifestyle or religious views. Whilst Frankie’s mother is visiting a small town called Bellequito in Mexico she learns that the town’s old and learned priest Father Delmonico has recently passed away after he "threw" himself from the bell tower of his church. While we are being shown the sad scene of his worshippers weeping for his loss, we see a small boy sneak into the church and steal the Priest’s rosary from his open coffin. The boy promptly takes the Rosary to his stall outside and sells it to Frankie’s mother who thinks it will make a nice gift for her daughter.

Meanwhile, the statue of the Virgin Mary in the church at Bellequito has begun to weep tears of real blood from its stone eyes and news of this miracle has captured the attention of the world press. The Vatican in Rome send a "special investigator". Father Andrew Kiernon (Gabriel Byrne) to investigate the statue and report his findings to his superior Cardinal Houseman (Jonathan Pryce) back at the Vatican. While in Bellequito Father Kiernon witnesses a flock of Doves fly from within the solid stone of the statue and quickly takes as many photos as possible in order to back up his story.

Meanwhile back in America, Frankie has received the Rosary in the post from her mother and has disregarded it leaving it on the side in her apartment. Frankie takes a bath and while soaking she is sucked under the water by unseen hands, she sees visions of nails being driven into wrists and when she gets her head above water we see the bath is full of blood and that Frankie is now unconscious. Frankie’s wounds are treated in Hospital and the staff are convinced that she has inflicted these wounds herself. A few days later she is attacked in the same way but this time we see her being whipped by unseen attackers on a moving Subway train.

To cut a long story short through the Rosary Frankie is being made to endure the marks of the Stigmata, these marks usually afflict deeply religious people and take on the form of the wounds Christ allegedly sustained during the "crucifixion". The nails through the wrists, ( not the hands a lot of images of Christ show the nails through the hands, this is wrong as the hands cannot support the weight of the human body). Nails through the feet, whip marks to the back, bleeding from the head from the Crown of Thorns and finally the spear through the side. Frankie has been partially possessed by the spirit of the priest Father Delmonico who in life was a "Stigmatic", and through Frankie is trying to get a message to the world about a lost Gospel, which, are the "true" words of Jesus.

Stigmata, pertains to be a reaction against organised religion and through its highly imaginative storyline and stunning special effects, sceptically explores much of the fundamentals Catholicism and indeed Christianity are based upon. Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Houseman plays the villain (if you could call him that) , a deeply religious man who is desperate that this proven message must be silenced and that the Catholic Church and the world must be protected from the truth. Even to the lengths of killing Frankie in order to hide that truth.

I will not spoil the rest of the story for you as this film is well worth seeing Gabriel Byrne and Patricia Arquette are excellent and this file held my attention from start to finish, the music, the visual imagery and the anguish you feel towards Frankie as she is put through one ordeal after another.

The film, although fictitious does base some of its content on fact, there are people in the world who suffer from the wounds of Stigmata and the Gospel described above, is reputed to have been discovered in 1945 and is thought to have been written before the New Testament gospels in the Bible. This Gospel has been hailed as the words of the risen Jesus but has always been dismissed by the Vatican.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Excellent
Features 8 page booklet on the making of the movie
"Divine Rites" - The Story Of Stigmata Featurette
Audio Commentary from Director Rupert Wainwright
Five Deleted Scenes
Music Video By Natalie Imbruglia
Alternate Ending
Original Theatrical Trailer
Verdict The DVD of the film is well presented, there is quite a nice booklet to accompany the feature, which explains some of the ideas behind the film and also explains in depth the marks of the Stigmata. The special features are very good and the alternate ending is an interesting idea, the disc lets you choose what ending you would like. The sound quality is fantastic and on surround sound really adds a lot to the feature.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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