It is not uncommon for Roman Gubern to put his delicious little book A cinephile in the Vatican (New Anagram Notebooks, 2020) under the invocation of Mark Twain and his Yankee in the court of King Arthur the Catalan film scholar manifests the same sense of humor and irony as the American writer and considers his Vatican experience as curious and extravagant (and funny) as that of the protagonist of the famous novel.
Indeed, almost as surprising is that a Connecticut technician disembarks in Camelot, as if a Barcelona agnostic cinephile does so in the very secret and closed world of pontifical cinema.
Gubern Barcelona 1934 did so in 1995, upon receiving an invitation from the Holy See (specifically from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications) in order to join the commission that was to organize the official program of the Vatican Film Library on the occasion of the centenary of the cinema.
Román Gubern receives in his apartment between books and scattered papers and dressed in a somewhat surprising way to be at home: with a university sweatshirt, leather jacket and red scarf. “I have 85 years and little social life,” he says before entering the subject and explaining that he wrote the book last August at a stretch, commissioned by his brother-in-law Jorge Herralde, taking advantage of the fact that he kept all the documents on the subject in his file.
“The papacy is topical,” he says about the controversy between Ratzinger and Francisco and the film about the two popes, although he confesses instead to have not yet seen the series The Young Pope.
“I don’t want my book to be interpreted as satirical or combative, because the truth is that in the Vatican they were very kind to me. I have been inspired byA Yankee in the court of King Arthur because I like that idea of someone who comes to a place he doesn’t know and looks at everything with new eyes. ”