The Apparition: is the film with Vincent Lindon inspired by a true story?

Is the film “The Apparition” by Xavier Giannoli with Vincent Lindon and Galatéa Bellugi inspired by a true story? Discover the underside of what are called “canonical investigations”.

The Apparition: Xavier Giannoli questions faith

The Appearance is the director’s seventh feature film Xavier Giannoli (lost illusions). For the first time, he collaborates with the actor Vincent Lindon in an investigation against a background of divine apparition.

The pitch:

Jacques, a senior reporter for a French daily, one day receives a mysterious phone call from the Vatican. In a small town in the south-east of France an 18-year-old girl claimed to have had an apparition of the Virgin Mary. The rumor quickly spread and the phenomenon has taken on such proportions that thousands of pilgrims now come to gather at the place of the alleged apparitions. Jacques, who has nothing to do with that world, agrees to be part of a commission of inquiry charged with shedding light on these events.

Alongside Vincent Lindon, it is the young actress Galatea Bellugi who interprets the role of Anna, who claims to have seen the Virgin Mary. A performance that allowed him to win a nomination for the César for best female hope in 2019.

Galatéa Bellugi (Anna) - The Apparition
Galatéa Bellugi (Anna) – The Apparition © Memento Films Distribution

Canonical Investigations

Director Xavier Giannoli had the urge to address the question of faith after reading an article about the mysterious “canonical investigations”. It is for the Catholic Church to investigate the alleged miracles or apparitions that would be witnessed every year by many people around the world.

Those who lead the investigation are not necessarily religious. There may be doctors, historians, or psychologists, whom a bishop sends on a mission to determine if it is a fraud or not. This commission then submits its conclusions to the bishop who then decides to validate or invalidate the supernatural character of the apparition.

This point of view of a documentary investigation without complacency on supposed proofs of the existence of God corresponded to what I felt then in my life, to the essential doubt which had become mine. This doubt has become a force of life and cinema

declared Xavier Giannoli at the time of the release of The Appearance.

Is the film based on real events?

Vincent Lindon - The Apparition
Vincent Lindon – The Apparition © Memento Films Distribution

However, the feature film with Vincent Lindon does not attempt to relate a real case of investigation carried out in France on a teenager who would have seen the Virgin Mary. Xavier Giannoli investigated on his side, on multiple cases of appearances. Then he went to meet people who participated in these famous “canonical investigations” during the writing of the film. He said:

My first surprise was to meet men and women who had nothing enlightened ready to believe anything and everything. On the contrary, they hunt down impostors and counterfeiters, involve doctors and historians in their research. But the problem is that they are bound by a strict duty of secrecy… I nevertheless managed to forge links with some of them and I even had access to real interrogations of “seers” claiming have had an appearance.

Regarding the real “canonical investigations” carried out by the Vatican on the supposed apparitions of the Virgin Mary, only 18 have been approved. Thus, the last one, which took place in San Nicolas in Argentina, goes back to 1983 and was recognized on May 22, 2016.

The Apparition: is the film with Vincent Lindon inspired by a true story?