Skip to comments.Will critics bury For Greater Glory?
Posted on 06/01/2012 4:12:19 PM PDT by Kaslin
It’s opening day in the US for a widely-anticipated film that recounts a war of which few have even heard. For Greater Glory has already opened to packed houses and long lines in Mexico for the past month, as many filmgoers connect with a part of their nation’s history that has rarely been discussed. The film stars Andy Garcia as Enrique Gorostieta, an agnostic who took up the cause of religious freedom when the socialist government of President Plutarco Calles (Ruben Blades) tries to suppress the Catholic Church, provoking a civil war (called the Cristiada or Cristero War) that lasted for three years.
When the production of For Greater Glory began a couple of years ago, no one could have known that the film would have direct relevance to current events. Thanks to the battle between the Obama administration and religious groups (including and especially the Catholic bishops) over the HHS contraception/sterilization mandate, the issue of government defining religious expression has become acute in the US. That will undoubtedly drive more traffic to the theaters, as well as keep the mandate on the front political burner all summer long.
Critics, thus far, are dismissing the film. It gets only a 17% “freshness” rating at the critic-aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, although the audience rating is 73%, with an average rating of 3.9 points on a five-point scale. The New York Times is among the more generous, with some praise and criticism:
The movie is a much softer echo of fervent 1950s blockbusters with religious themes, like The Robe, set at the dawn of Christianity, in which humble true believers who are ready to sacrifice their lives for their faith stand up to their godless oppressors. The best of those quasi-biblical movies still have the power to stir the blood and elicit tears. Mel Gibson has more recently made angrier and gorier versions of the same thing.
There may be no miracles or choirs of angels here, but religiosity, although restrained, is pervasive. Pablo José Barroso, the films producer, founded Dos Corazones Films, a Mexican production company that the press notes state was created as part of a ministry that produces films to convey messages of faith and family values.
Dean Wright, who directed For Greater Glory from a screenplay by Michael Love, was the visual effects wizard behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This movie, which was filmed on many of the actual sites of the conflict, is impressively spacious. The expansive scale and brisk but unhurried editing keep For Greater Glory from stumbling over itself and becoming a bloated, grandiose exhibition of righteous saber rattling. The symphonic score by James Horner confers an inspirational mood that is uplifting without being syrupy.
Even if For Greater Glory is considerably more sophisticated than some of its forerunners, its characters are clear-cut saints and sinners. To its credit, the film acknowledges the political history leading up to the war and the bargaining behind the scenes. Bruce Greenwood plays Dwight Morrow, the United States ambassador to Mexico, dispatched from Washington to protect American oil interests while brokering a peace.
But the diplomacy is just a footnote to the struggle for religious freedom.
We’ve discussed the film a number of times at Hot Air. I wrote my own review from a rough cut in March, while Green Room contributor Dustin Siggins provided another perspective this week:
Such things were on my mind as I watched For Greater Glory, a movie about the Cristeros, or soldiers for Christ, who fought against religious persecution by the Mexican government from 1926 to 1929. The movie starts with laws which encroach upon religious freedom relatively benignly, such as not allowing the public wear of religious symbols. The Mexican government then moves to decry foreigners who allegedly control the nations citizens, particularly the Vatican, and rounds up all foreign-born bishops and priests to force them to leave the country. Peaceful rallies and protests are responded to with military force, which leads to an economic boycott.
The boycott is the last straw for Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles. Ignoring the counsel of his advisers, he begins invading churches and killing Catholic priests and parishioners. This leads to protests of various forms, from peacefully marching in the streets to violent rebellion. At the heart of the entire movie are a teenage boy who sees his mentor shot before his eyes, an atheist whose wifes Catholic faith and his own belief in religious freedom cause him to lead the rebellion, a woman whose network of faithful Catholic women is critical to the rebellions early formation, a rebel whose legendary fighting skills are matched by his disdain for authority, and a priest whose violent leadership in the rebellion causes a great deal of spiritual uncertainty.
As a movie, For Greater Glory isnt a bad watch. It is rated R for violence and graphic imagery (a number of lynched bodies are seen hanging, for example, throughout the film). However, it often struggles to capture and hold the viewers emotions. In aiming to fully develop over half-a-dozen major characters, often through individual scenes and interactions with secondary and lower-ranked characters, the movie comes across as a bit of a whirlwind.
Be sure to read it all. Above all, I’d also tell readers to see the film for yourself. It’s a visually lush, thematically bold production that tells an important story about religious freedom and its cost — and in a sense, the cost to maintain liberty in general. The cast is superb, and the story will grip audiences. Even though the version I saw is quite close to the version that went into release today, I plan on seeing it again at the theater this weekend.
I interviewed Andy Garcia about the film a month ago:
Interview with Andy Garcia
I’ve also interviewed Dennis Rice, the film’s distributor, as well as director Dean Wright.
For Greater Glory | In Theaters 6/1
Buriel can’t take place with internet promotion 24/7.
Liberals weren’t going anyway.
God does certainly work in mysterious ways.
Cristero. hmm i think i will paint that on my vans rear window.
soldiers for Christ. now thats a militia i would be proud to be part of.
never again. never again. never forget the evils of the past.
My grandfather always had a hatred for big government and godless leaders of Mexico. I'm going to see it ASAP.
I think God uses fools. I'm going to go see it tomorrow.
Not showing at our 6 plex cinema yet. Five fantasy or Si Fi films, one chick flick.
Don’t know if the locals can handle a REAL drama anymore.
But Andy Garcia is in it also, so there’s reason enough to go. :)
Its not plating in the Concord-Manchester NH area theaters.
I wonder if the lib enclaves are simply not playing it.
The “tri-State” area of Maine-NH-Vt has it at exactly ONE theater- Fox Run Mall in Newington, near Portsmouth NH.
If you do an image search on the internet for Cristeros Colgados, it brings up tons of images from the actual Cristeros War.
It started playing today at our Great Escape Movie theater
It started playing today at our Great Escape Movie theater
Tomorrow. June 2nd, is the Anniversary of Enrique Gorostieta’s death. Requiescat In Pacem to the brave Cristeros who fought unto death for Relidious Liberty.
Found this on the University of Texas Website:
General Gorostieta (snip) led a small band to the Hacienda del Valle, outside of Atotonilco in Michoacán where he decamped in a perilously exposed redoubt with firm intelligence of enemy troops in the area. He was shot in the ensuing battle on June 2nd, eventually his body was sent to Mexico City and turned over to his family. He was interred at the Panteón Español under a large stone crucifix with the epitaph:
Long live Christ the King
To the memory of the General of the Division
Enrique Gororstieta Velarde
By his wife and children
Born in Monterrey, N.L., the 18 of September 1890
God called him to his side on June 2, 1929
He was a Christian, a patriot and a gentleman
He lived and died for his ideals -
GOD, COUNTRY AND LIBERTY
I just came back from the movie...everyone should see it..the courage...hard to describe..
Andy Garcia is a conservative so there is that to balance it out.
Critics rating: 19% (rotten)
Audience rating: 71% (ripe)
Buy a clue, knucklehead! Massacreing children makes someone a monster, not just a "sinner"!
Equivocating, moral-cheeseparing, Marxism-justifying, atheist-hugging, shadow-loving dim Rat! People like this reviewer are just the sort of people John Bunyan called denizens of the Vanity Fair, in his Pilgrim's Progress.
Sorry, Timesbot, but better people than you have had your number, and the number of your ilk, and the number of your name, for thousands of years. Sorry to break the news, but you are nothing new under the sun.
Can’t wait to see it. My husband told me about it earlier.
No theater is showing this movie in my area WTF? Anyone else having the same problem finding a theater near you?
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