“Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi” is Engaging and Enraging

The Vatican shows that absolute power corrupts absolutely

Jeff's Film & TV Reviews
3 min readOct 25, 2022


Promotional image via Netflix

Emanuela Orlandi, a 15-year-old citizen of the Vatican City State, disappeared on June 22, 1983. Her family worked for the Vatican, having served seven Popes. She left for a music lesson in Rome and was never seen again.

The world knows about the Church covering up priests abusing alter boys. But how much of a scandal would it have turned out to be if part of the story didn’t have an element of NIMBY (Not In My BackYard)?

Historically, we know the Church has launched crusades, moved pedophiles around the world and has had business ties with the mafia. What else could they be doing behind the Vatican walls?

How could such a globally powerful entity not know everything that happens on their 109 acres of land?

For comparison:
The Colosseum is 6 acres
Ellis Island is 27.5 acres
Disneyland is 500 acres.
Disney World is 27,000 acres

Critics of the “Vatican Girl” docuseries point to its desire to convey theories without having a definitive answer even though it accurately portrays the investigations (or lack thereof).

This case mirrors one’s faith in a religion while lacking the ability to challenge the institution behind that religion. While still hoping his sister is alive, what is Pietro Orlandi to think and do when Pope Francis tells him that his sister is now in heaven?

I attended a Catholic grade school, and later in life I worked in Italy for two summers. I wouldn’t consider this specific case to be on the tip of US citizens’ tongues when they think of Vatican crimes.

Perhaps that is why some think the docuseries feels like a Dan Brown novel. The structure makes it relatable to a broader audience.

With the film “Spotlight,” there was a clear journey for the characters as it was based upon an investigation that its targeted audience was very familiar with.

Who in the United States could tell you who Emanuela Orlandi may be?



Jeff's Film & TV Reviews