In The 13th Day, a timely message of
The Higgins brothers' background in photography, as evidenced by their use of the Chiaroscuro technique, in which faces emerge from darkness into light, emphasizes the theme of light that is central to The 13th Day. Character’s faces emerge from shadowed darkness, to black and white, to muted color and as they respond to the heavenly messenger portrayed in blinding light. This technique may not appeal to those who prefer a traditional portrayal of this story, yet it has a haunting quality achieving an arresting emotional impact. Interestingly, not only are Our Lady and the children flooded with light and color, but those who come to accept the apparitions also take on a tinge of color. Clearly, this technique evokes the phenomenon of rainbow light that washed over the eyewitnesses in
The portrayal of Our Lady is breathtaking, and there is a stunning ‘holy card moment’ pausing to show the traditional portrait of the three children kneeling at her feet at the base of the shrub oak. The
The musical score is lush, adding tenderness to the rare moments of innocent joy what is a somewhat unsettling film. Hints of Allegri’s “Misere” add a touch of transcendence to the emotional soundtrack, and it is one of the best features of the film.
The young Portuguese actors who play Lucia and Francisco convey a mixture of simplicity and emotional strength for their roles as innocent souls entrusted by Our Lady with the most critical and terrifying of secrets. Jacinta is seen for the innocent six year old she was and has a minor role.
The vivid visions of hell and trials endured by the children are harsh for younger viewers, though profoundly important to the story. One forgets that the
The 13th Day reminds viewers not only of the message of Fatima, but of the price paid by the young visionaries so honored by Our Lady, and draws striking parallels between hostile governments and media of 1917 and persecution of the Church in our own time. It is a somber film for a sobering message. Recommended for age 8 and up. No language or nudity, but scenes of hell and children being persecuted may be disturbing for younger viewers.
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