The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel brings to life not only the visions of St. Bernadette Soubirous, but also the "spirit of the times" against which this remarkable story is set. Especially in regard to the character of Bernadette, she is vividly wrought and not portrayed as a mealy mouthed adolescent as in the movie, but much more realistically as is every person in this work.
Equally superb, is the performance of the narrator, Johanna Ward. Her French is impeccable and she never commits the sin of sins of narrators, that of inserting their own phrases and changes as if they know better than the author. But beyond that, her range is tremendous. She has a voice for every single character, male or female and you are never wondering who is speaking. Her portrayal of Bernadette is so wondrous it is as if you can see her in front of you. I had the great privilege of kneeling before the incorrupt body of Saint Bernadette in her glass reliquary at Saint Gildard in Nevers, France. Listening to Johanna Ward, brings that memory back to me, not just the awesome power of God, but of all that took place to bring this about. In listening to this performance one can only say in the words of Franz Werfel; "Quel Poeme, Quel Poeme". What a poem.