Movie Review: Xavier (2007) #AtoZChallenge

This is my entry for “X” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Previous “X” documentaries I’ve reviewed include XXXY.

Title: Xavier
Release Date: September 26, 2006
Director: Jeremy Zipple
Production Company: Fourth Week Films

Francis Xavier was born in Navarre (now in northern Spain) as a member of minor noble family.  As the youngest son, he followed his duty to study for the priesthood, with the expectation he could return home and live a leisurely and comfortable life as a prelate.  While studying at the University of Paris, he met an older student, Igatius of Loyola, who had begun to attract attention and followers with his Spiritual Exercises.  Xavier was initially resistant, but eventually joined Ignatius in his devotion and was among the first members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

His first mission was to Goa in India where he attracted people to listen to his instruction by walking the streets and ringing a bell.  He found himself in-between the poor Indians and the Portuguese colonists, the latter who lead lives that were less Christian, in the strictest sense of the word.  His willingness to interact with the lower castes also turned off the Indian Brahmins.  Later he became the first missionary to go to Japan, attempting to win converts by analogy to Buddhist and Shinto beliefs. Xavier hoped to continue his mission to China, but died on the island of Shangchuan, 14km away from the Chinese mainland, while awaiting for a man who promised to take him to mainland China.

Stylistically, this isn’t the best documentary.  There are several dramatic reenactments by actors playing Xavier and his contemporaries that just look cheezy.  Also, it felt like a quarter of the live footage was just shots of churning ocean waves. The filmmaker, Jeremy Zipple, is a Jesuit priest and former editor for America, so one can expect that this story is a bit somewhat biased.  The history of Christian missionaries to non-Western lands is one that often goes hand in hand with brutatlity and colonialism.  Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but a little inspired by Xavier’s attempts at honest cultural exchange and to live a Christian life of humility and poverty.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

Xavier is a name I associate with Catholic schools that play basketball, so pretty much all of this story was new to me.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:

Watch The Mission, a classic movie that tells the story of Jesuit missionaries who find themselves caught in between the indigenous South American people they’ve come to teach Christianity, and Spanish imperialists who want to eliminate the indigenous people. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell is a science fiction novel about Jesuits leading a space mission to meet the inhabitants of an alien planet, very much a symbolic story of the missionary experience.

Source: Amazon Prime

Rating: **1/2

2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – Documentary Films

A: Amy
B: Being Elmo
C: Central Park Five
D: Dear Mr. Watterson
E: The Endless Summer
F: F for Fake
G: Grey Gardens
H: High School
I: Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice
J: Jiro Dreams of Sushi
K: Kon-Tiki
L: The Last Waltz
M: Man With a Movie Camera
N: Nanook of the North
O: Obit.
P: Pelotero
Q: Quest: A Portrait of an American Family
R: Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan
S: Soundtrack for a Revolution
T: Titicut Follies
U: Unforgivable Blackness
V: Virunga
W: Waking Sleeping Beauty

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

Podcasts of the Week Ending April 27

Fresh Air :: Actor Glenda Jackson Is King Lear

Glenda Jackson is an experienced actor who talks about her long career.  She’s also a former Member of Parliament who spoke the truth about Margaret Thatcher after the latter’s death.  She’s now portraying King Lear on Broadway and I want to go see that now.

99% Invisible :: Play Mountain

Isamu Noguchi was a sculptor and designer with an interesting life story.  He designed an abstract playground structure for New York City but was rejected by Robert Moses, who became a lifelong enemy (and this makes me love Noguchi more).  During World War II, he volunteered for internment in order to design a humane camp for the Japanese-American internees, and then found himself both unable to influence the design and unable to leave.  Today, his legacy lives on in unique, abstract playgrounds.

More or Less :: The economic impact of mega sporting events

Proponents of the Olympic Games claim the event can bring great economic benefits to host cities, but the numbers show otherwise.


Running tally of Podcast of the Week appearances:

A Song and a Story: Solve for X #AtoZChallenge

In algebra, the letter x is used to represent a number, so today I’m going to “solve for x” and write a song and a story about tunes with a number in the title.

First up,


When I was 8, 9, 10 years old, I had a weekly appointment with my radio to listen to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem.  For a time  in the spring of 1983, in order to get a bit of privacy for my Casey Kasem devotion, I would hang out in the garage.  It wasn’t quite warm enough to hang out outside, but the garage door blocked the winds, and with patio furniture in storage, I had a cozy place to recline. Obviously, the Billboard charts were not the place to find obscure music, but nevertheless I learned of artists that I didn’t hear anywhere else.  Among these were Prince and the Revolution and the breakout album 1999.  The title track was about nuclear apocalypse, but it still reminds me of chilling in my garage watching the sunlight filter through the dust in the air.

Ol’ 55

In 2000, I volunteered at the Falcon Ridge Music Festival in Hillsdale, NY.  One of my shifts was the overnight security shift at the main gate.  It seemed appropriate for me as an insomniac to work overnight, but it was lonely and it was cold.  Fortunately, nearby the main gate an artist named Terry Kitchen was leading an all-night campfire song circle.  When it was clear that absolutely no one was coming through that gate, he invited me over to the circle.  Among the songs they played were some early Tom Waits songs, which at the time I was not aware of.  “This was when his voice still sounded normal,” someone told me.  “Ol’ 55” forever reminds me of that overnight campfire song circle on the night when I wasn’t really needed to defend the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival

2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – A Song and a Story

A: Always on My Mind
B: Baby Come Back and Baker Street
C: Cheek to Cheek
D: Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Doctor Jones
E: Everyday Sunshine
F: Fly Me to the Moon
G: Ghost Town
H: Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe
I: If I Were John Carpenter
J: Jungle Strut and Justified & Ancient
K: Kiss
L: Loaded
M: Marble Halls and My Moon, My Man
N: New York, New York
O: Oliver’s Army
P: The Parting Glass
Q: Qué Onda Guero
R: Rave On
S: The Servant Song
T: Thing of Beauty
U: Unworthy
V: The Voyage
W: Working My Way Back to You Babe and Walk of Life

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.