Original Review by Alan Rogers

Pius XII: Under The Roman Sky is a 2010 TV movie that attempts to detail the efforts of Pope Pius XII (played by James Cromwell) to save Jews from the Nazis after the city falls under Nazi occupation in 1943, as well as covering an alleged plot by Hitler to take the Pontiff as a hostage. A German/Italy co-production, Canadian-born director Christian Duguay’s 3-hour film is scored by Italian composer Andrea Guerra and the score features lush strings and beautiful a lovely soprano voice (plus larger chorus) that imparts an uplifting feel in the listener rather than the ominous and dramatic aspects that the topic may suggest (more on that in a moment).

The score immediately captures the attention, using the aforementioned lush strings and solo voice to create a mood of faith and human virtue that swells with the inclusion of fanfare-like brass and chorus. The mood established in this first track, “La Città Eterna”, continues in both “Il Papa è Nostro Padre” and “Il Dolore di Una Città” where the same elements are used by Guerra to showcase his thematic material to great effect. In contrast however, “Sotto Il Cielo di Roma (Main Title)” introduces more ominous music with the appearance of low strings and a nervous, low-register piano passage (motifs hinted at during the final seconds of “La Città Eterna”) that is suggestive of rats scurrying along darkened passageways. Interspersed within these darker devices the lush strings and the solo voice re-appear, almost hinting at good trying to break out from darkness. A low string ostinato adds additional pace to the score at this point, further increasing the drama to the music. This title track establishes the fight between the light and dark aspects of the story that will be played out during the course of the film. 

Guerra’s music for Pius XII so far is promising but unfortunately this “EP” release is all there is: 4 tracks amounting to just over 10 minutes of music. Considering the movie runs to more than 20 times that length, I would bet that there’s a lot more music composed and it is disappointing that more music is not contained here. Only the briefest of tastes of Guerra’s music is offered and it seems that what has been released is biased towards the more uplifting rather than the darker material. Which is fair enough – the music here has certainly piqued my interest and I would hope that this small sample could pave the way for a more substantial release in the future. Guerra’s scores that I am already familiar with (Cuore Sacro, Atelier Fontana: Le Sorelle della Moda and Extraordinary Measures) all have an emotional soul to them that’s worthy of repeated listens and the music contained in this briefest of releases does point to another score with a strong emotional centre. What there is is good and I would recommend it to enjoy whilst waiting for a more substantial release in the future. Pius XII: Under The Roman Sky is available at most online digital stores.

Audio samples can be found HERE.

Rating: ***

  1. La Città Eterna (2:14)
  2. Il Papa è Nostro Padre (2:09)
  3. Il Dolore di Una Città (1:19)
  4. Sotto Il Cielo di Roma (Main Title) (5:12)

Running Time: 10:55

Lux Vide (2010)

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