HBO News Blog

Inside THE YOUNG POPE Opening Credits

By Jef Dinsmore on Feb 22, 2017 to The Young Pope

HBO loves a great Opening Credit sequence, doesn’t it?  We could rattle off a great number of them and what we like about each, and we just might do so one of these days when time allows, but for now we focus on one of the most recent ones. How about the credits for THE YOUNG POPE?

On first look, it appears that Pope Pius the XIII is walking down a hallway, in perhaps The Vatican, amongst the religious iconography displayed. To tweak it they add some subtle animation to the paintings as if to say things are a bit different here now. Then we get that wink from the handsome face of Jude Law in his basic papal garb. The sequence concludes with the notion that Lenny Belardo is about to knock the Papacy on its ass as the animation topples the Pope image last in line. Watch it again.

Now HBOWatch would have left it at that thinking that we understood the meaning of that opening while the necessary credits played underneath. If you’re like me I barely acknowledged the credits and didn’t even read them until like Episode 6 because I was too busy looking at the imagery instead. Never the Art History major I didn’t recognize any of the paintings on the wall, but I knew enough that they were actual works and not just whipped up by production design. Thankfully, THE YOUNG POPE showrunner Paola Sorrentino added some insight to what we were seeing. This is what we learned:

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – SEPTEMBER 22: A work of art in the “Apocalypse” exhibition by Italian Maurizio Cattelan of the Pope John Paul II lying on his side clutching a large cruclfix, apparently felled by a meteorite at the Royal Academy in London 22 September 2000. (AFP Photo/Hugo PHILPOTT) (Photo credit should read HUGO PHILPOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

 “The paintings of the opening scene are a quick chronological overview, with obvious shortcomings, of the most significant moments in the history and art of the entire arch of Christianity and the church” and “ends with the light of a comet that becomes a meteorite striking [Pope John Paul II]. “Because, both seriously and humorously, Christianity begins with a comet that over the centuries takes on a different appearance and mysteriousness as a meteorite. And then, perhaps, for many different reasons, it turns into a rock. Playing with the magnificent artwork [at the end] that rock crashes down on an old pope and leaves the space to a young man: Pope Pius XIII.”

Okay, we didn’t poke around to title all of the paintings in the sequence, and neither did our source, but we did learn that the first picture starts with the birth of Jesus and the final piece is a sculpture created by a Maurizio Cattelan. We include a look at the real work of the meteor stricken pontiff.  

All that lead up to the notion that we need to see how Jude Law’s Lenny rocked the Papacy and we weren’t disappointed were we?

(Source: Vulture)

  • Ken Fontenot

    These are the opening credits of the European version. The HBO added more animation, with character in the paintings moving in reaction to the shooting star. I’ve been looking for a high quality video of that version online, but I’ve had no luck.

  • misterinvisible

    I’m curious why they only used this credit sequence on certain episodes. I don’t think it was there for the first couple episodes or the finale. I wonder if there’s any significance or simply an artistic choice?

    • Jef Dinsmore

      I think it has to do with how the show was packaged in the U. K. where it aired first. I believe the first two episodes ran as one across the pond. It may have ran for ten episodes here but it was only eight over there, so the credits were not required as often. Make sense?

      • misterinvisible

        I thought that might be the case, thanks for clearing that up!













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