‘Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi’ Review: Money and Conspiracy in the Vatican

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Netflix is here once again with another true crime docuseries. It seems like the streaming service has been bombarding us with this type of content for the past year. Basically, every other week we get a new case, a new mystery, and some new victims to feel pity for. The majority of these documentaries feel a bit tacked on, and they come off as weak Wikipedia rip-offs. Thankfully, even so far into the game, Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi feels like one of the best docuseries of its kind on Netflix.

Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi is a docuseries written and directed by Mark Lewis, a filmmaker who has already been doing this type of content for Netflix. His new work tells us the story of Emanuela Orlandi, a young girl who disappeared in 1983. Her case became one of the most important disappearance cases in Italy. Not only because Emanuela was actually a citizen of the Vatican, but also because the case evolved from a simple disappearance to a case of international terrorism and then to an absolute conspiracy theory.

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Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi only runs for four episodes, but each of these episodes is jam-packed with information. The evolution of the case is truly outstanding, and like one of the American reporters quoted in the series says, “This story looks more like a Dan Brown novel”. There are twists and turns at every moment, and each clue just leads to another bigger mystery that opens another branch in the case, and so on. It is quite heartbreaking to see how, in search of a simple solution, everything just evolved into something so massive and complex.

For the family, of course, this was the worst thing that could happen, because, with every new development, the attention gathered by the case started to walk further and further away from its core. Which was to discover if Emanuela was alive or dead. In the end, the case resulted in one of the biggest fiascos in the history of the Vatican and the Italian investigating forces. Each new episode really brings a great sense of dread and anxiety as you start to realize that the case might never have a true solution.


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Unlike many other docuseries on Netflix or presented on other streaming services, Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi goes above and beyond to gather the necessary evidence to promote its own theory about what happened to Emanuela and why the case evolved in such a weird manner. We have to say that the evidence in fact is pretty compelling and that if the theory is in fact true, then it would generate a huge scandal inside and outside the Vatican.

For hundreds of years the Vatican has been seen as a sacred place, and yet, the last few decades have really shown just how corrupted the Catholic Church really is. There is apparently no difference between the Vatican and the Mafia, or any other cult out there, other than the Vatican is the center of power of a cult that has millions and millions of followers. Their influence is massive, but the people running the show are still humans, so, it becomes very understandable if those humans wielding so much power could get corrupted by it.

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The docuseries doesn’t condemn the Church as a whole. However, it does declare that it is the Church and no other, the group that has the truth about what happened with Emanuela, where she went, and what happened to her body. If the theory presented in the documentary is true, the Church would never admit it, and the secret would die with the institution itself. Maybe, this docuseries will bring attention to the case that needs to have one more push into discovering the truth.

Outside the compelling mystery, Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi is very well-made. The information is delivered at a very nice pace, and it is all very understandable. There are many names involved, and that could get some viewers confused for a bit, but in general, Lewis and his team manage to create something that feels very accessible. The production values are also quite solid, with interviews showing great cinematography, and also a very good graphic design, from the intro of the show to the graphics used as visual aids during the episodes.

Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi feels like one of the best docuseries on the platform because it is done in a way that shows just how much effort went into it. Sometimes these docuseries feel very cheap and low effort, with YouTube productions being sometimes quite more impressive than anything that Netflix has to show, but in this case, the quality of the work speaks for itself. Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi is compelling and entertaining.

Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi really opens up a window to a case that many people in the recent era might know nothing about. To correct that mistake, let’s hope the series is successful enough, as in the end, you really feel like this case should never be forgotten and the search for Emanuela should never be abandoned.

SCORE: 9/10

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