Religion and war. Reflections on the movie ‘Karol’

In this essay I will reflect around some questions regarding the movie Karol. This movie takes place in Poland during World War II and depicts Karol Wojtyla’s journey from resisting youth till becoming the first Polish Pope.

The role of the religion in the resistance against Nazi and Soviets totalitarianism

I think that religion plays a huge part in the resistance of all injustice and evil actions in the world, in that sense that it gives people hope. By having a strong church and belief system, I think the people of Poland managed to stay strong during the awful war, and later the invasion of the Soviets. It gave them hope, and if people have hope they can conquer anything, in my opinion. Hope gives people strength, and that combined with the love towards your fellow countrymen that was expressed in this film, is how they managed to get through the war with their head held high. Religion united the people of Poland, and together they were strong.

How does Karol discover his priestly vocation?

At the beginning of the movie Karol is a student, and he and his friends try to organize resistance by doing theatre in basements and people’s apartments. Karol does not want to turn to violence to save Poland. His friends get killed one by one by the Nazi soldiers, and Karol does not know what to do. One day a man helps him hide from the Nazis on the street, and he gives him a book. After reading this, he meets up with his friend Tomasz and tells him he wants to join the monastery. This is where his journey from priest, to bishop and then Pope, starts.

What are the religious and the universal values of this movie?

In one scene the Nazis come and take over the church. Tomasz the priest will not allow this, telling them that the church is for the people, for everyone. That made me think of the value of equality, and how in Christianity God loves everyone no matter who they are. This is a very important value that we should all adopt to our way of thinking. To me, there was one value that stood out and that is that love is the greatest power of all. I think that this value is both religious and universal, because love is a universal language. Anybody can speak it, understand it and learn it. It is the greatest thing in this world. One of Karol’s dearest friends, priest Tomasz Zaleski, gets shot by the Nazi. Before they kill him, the Nazi officer says; “The world must be ruled by honour”, to which priest Tomasz answers; “The world must be ruled by love”. At the end of the movie, one of the last sentences is one from Karol after he becomes Pope; “Love solved everything for me, that’s why I admire it”. This is such a powerful statement, and I think that this could apply to humans in general. If we all spoke the language of love, we could save the world.


In this world I feel that religion is often perceived as something negative. This movie, in my opinion, gives a positive outlook on religion, Catholism in particular. It shows how having something greater than ourselves to believe in can help an entire country survive the horrors of a war. I am not a religious person, but I found this movie to be both moving and educational, and I felt like I got a greater understanding for the meaning of the church to people. I would recommend this movie to a friend, because you get a better insight in Christianity and it might be helpful to get a more positive outlook on religion.