RESTLESS HEART uses a historic backdrop to tell the true story of Augustine of Hippo – one of the Catholic Church’s most beloved and well-known Saints. Its message is as timely today as it was only a few generations after Jesus walked on Earth. It is the story of one who pursues fame and fortune without a moral compass – and the changes that occur when events lead him to see the light. It also chronicles the collapse of the Roman world and how Augustine laid the intellectual foundations of what became Europe.
Filmed in Europe, this new epic film is the first full-length feature movie about St. Augustine.
In 430 AD, in the besieged city of Hippo, the 70-year-old Bishop Augustine told Jovinus, a captain of the Roman guards, the story of how his Christian mother, Monica, saved him.
As a youngster in Roman North Africa, Augustine witnessed the persuasive effectiveness of the orator Microbius, whose lynchpin for any argument was, “These are facts…not words.” Augustine fell victim to his own ego, becoming a narcissist who was “eager to be eminent.” Monica, his mother and a Catholic, played a significant role throughout his life, reminding him that her hope and prayers are that “one day, we will be united in our faith.”
He left home for Carthage as a teen-ager to study under Microbius, and became a great orator and lawyer. His lustful, self-centered ways led to all sorts of debauchery – and to romance with the servant woman assigned to him. As a lawyer, Augustine proved worthy of his training – even convincing a jury to acquit a guilty man of assaulting his wife. He ultimately returned home, only to be invited to Milan to become the emperor’s orator.
When ordered to speak out against Catholic Bishop Ambrose, who is seen as a threat to the young emperor and his power, Augustine listened to Ambrose preach and ultimately used the bishop’s own words – and the words of the Scriptures – against him. When the emperor ordered Augustine to seize the basilica in Milan to weaken the bishop, he witnessed the senseless murders of innocent Catholics as the Roman army attempted to take over the basilica.
Before the speech, in a meeting with Augustine, the bishop suggested to the young lawyer that men never find the truth. “They must,” he said, “let the truth find them.” The truth found Augustine following the attack on the basilica. He decried the murders of innocents in a speech before the emperor and walked out – into a Catholic conversion. He told Bishop Ambrose that, for the first time, he stopped talking and listened. After baptizing him, the bishop noted that God will ask more of Augustine than of others because of his gifts as a great communicator. And in a prophetic gesture, he handed the newly baptized Augustine a jar of ink and encouraged him to “use it all.”
In one of the film’s most powerful scenes, the now-Catholic Bishop Augustine publicly debates the bishop of the Donatists, a sect against whom he struggled for many years. An impartial judge decides the winner.
Back in Hippo, on the eve of a vicious attack by Vandal raiders, Bishop Augustine urged the Roman garrison to negotiate with the Vandal King Genseric, but they proudly refused. Their decision forced Augustine to make a heroic decision of his own. By then, he had used almost all of that ink – in writing some of the most beloved documents in Church history, including “The Confessions” and “The City of God.”
Christian Duguay (Joan of Arc, Pius XII) directed RESTLESS HEART. The $20-million project runs 127 minutes. The cast includes Allesandro Preziosi, Monica Guerritore, Johannes Brandrup, Serena Rossi and Franco Nero.