On March 17, 1995, Pope Saint John Paul II addressed a plenary assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications.

The group was celebrating an anniversary that was significant to their mission and to the Pope: the 100th anniversary of the motion picture industry.

This anniversary was important to them because it marked a milestone in the history of film and its role in society, and it was important to the Pope because he recognized the impact of film on culture and the power of storytelling to inspire, educate and evangelize.

“Since the first public audience in Paris viewed the moving pictures prepared by the Lumière brothers in December 1895, the film industry has become a universal medium exercising a profound influence on the development of people’s attitudes and choices, and possessing a remarkable ability to influence public opinion and culture across all social and political frontiers” said JPII.

“The Church’s overall judgment of this art form, as of all genuine art, is positive and hopeful. We have seen that masterpieces of the art of film making can be moving challenges to the human spirit, capable of dealing in depth with subjects of great meaning and importance from an ethical and spiritual point of view.”

Speaking of how cinema could become “a more and more positive factor in the development of individuals and a stimulus for the conscience of society as a whole,” JPII praised the “many worthwhile productions during the first hundred years of the cinema’s existence.”

Later that year, the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications released a list titled “Some Important Films For the 100th Anniversary of Cinema.”

Chosen by international movie scholars picked by the late Archbishop John Foley, the list is split into three categories: religion, values, and art.

Foley said the list isn’t authoritative and that “not all that deserve mention are included.”

Which have you already watched, and which do you need to see ASAP? Take a look below!


      • Andrei Rublev (1966)
      • Babette’s Feast (1987)
      • Ben-Hur (1959)
      • The Flowers of St. Francis (1950)
      • Francesco (1989)
      • The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)
      • La Passion de Notre Seigneur Jesus-Christ (1905)
      • A Man for All Seasons (1966)
      • The Mission (1986)
      • Monsieur Vincent (1947)
      • Nazarin (1958)
      • Ordet (1955)
      • The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
      • The Sacrifice (1986)
      • Therese (1986)


      • Au Revoir les Enfants (1988)
      • Bicycle Thieves (1949)
      • The Burmese Harp (1956)
      • Chariots of Fire (1981)
      • Dekalog (1988)
      • Dersu Uzala (1975)
      • Gandhi (1982)
      • Intolerance (1916)
      • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
      • On the Waterfront (1954)
      • Rome, Open City (1945)
      • Schindler’s List (1993)
      • The Seventh Seal (1957)
      • The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978)
      • Wild Strawberries (1957)


      • Citizen Kane (1941)
      • 8½ (1963)
      • Fantasia (1940)
      • Grand Illusion (1937)
      • La Strada (1954)
      • The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
      • The Leopard (1963)
      • Little Women (1933)
      • Metropolis (1927)
      • Modern Times (1936)
      • Napoleon (1927)
      • Nosferatu (1922)
      • Stagecoach (1939)
      • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
      • The Wizard of Oz (1939)
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