New Teilhard de Chardin film produces thoughtful, inspiring biography

By Rose Pacatte, 23 May 2024
French Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Image: Wikimedia Commons


In “Teilhard: Visionary Scientist,” a new documentary to be broadcast on PBS, four key ideas emerge from the life and mind of Jesuit Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955): evolution, integration, fire and passion.

The fascinating visionary, paleontologist, theologian, geologist, philosopher, evolutionary theorist and mystic provides ample subject matter for a two-hour documentary. In an exclusive interview for NCR, producer Mary Frost told me the film had taken 13 years to accomplish — shot in four countries on three continents (France, China, England and the U.S.) in 25 locations.

Mary and her co-producer husband Frank Frost made seven research trips to prepare for the film, followed by seven shooting trips. They interviewed 30 experts and banked 200 hours of video material that took them two years to edit. Jesuit Fr. Eddie Siebert of Loyola Productions did the cinematography and Taiwan-based Jesuit Fr. Jerry Martinson (who consulted on Martin Scorsese’s 2016 film “Silence“) was their Mandarin interpreter on shoots in China. Sadly, Martinson passed away in 2017, before “Teilhard” was completed.

As a film, “Teilhard: Visionary Scientist” accomplishes two goals. First, it is an exceptional narrative made from documentary footage, recent interviews with key experts and Teilhard’s relatives in the United States, France and China; old photographs and new photos taken during the filming; and the select use of the Jesuit’s writings. From these, a substantive, thought-provoking and inspiring biography emerges.

Second, the film introduces Teilhard’s ideas — such as the “noosphere,” a term he coined that refers to the interconnected realm of human thought and consciousness evolving toward collective spiritual unity. This profound film reveals much about a man whose life, work and ideas are only becoming more relevant to science, philosophy and theology. “Teilhard” never loses you.

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Watch the full PBS documentary here.

With thanks to the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), where this article originally appeared.


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