Cristiada (film)

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For Greater Glory
For Greater Glory poster.jpg
Poster (English)
Directed by Dean Wright
Produced by Pablo Jose Barroso
Written by Michael James Love
Starring Andy Garcia
Eva Longoria
Eduardo Verastegui
Rubén Blades
Peter O'Toole
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Eduardo Martinez Solares
Edited by Richard Francis-Bruce
Mike Jackson
Production
company
NewLand Films
Distributed by ARC Entertainment
20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • April 20, 2012 (2012-04-20) (Mexico)
  • June 1, 2012 (2012-06-01) (U.S.)
Running time 145 minutes
Country Mexico
Language English
Budget $12 million
Box office $9,622,846
Flag carried by the Cristeros in the film. Translation: Long live Christ the King – and Our Lady of Guadalupe

For Greater Glory (aka Cristiada) is a 2012 epic historical war drama film [1] directed by Dean Wright and written by Michael Love, based on the true story of the Cristero War.[2][3][4][5][6] It stars Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Oscar Isaac, Rubén Blades, Peter O'Toole, and Bruce Greenwood. The film is the directorial debut for Wright, veteran visual effects supervisor on films including The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003),[1] and was released on June 1, 2012.

Plot[edit]

The film opens with screen titles describing the anti-Catholic provisions of the 1917 Constitution of Mexico. Civil war erupts when newly elected Mexican president, Plutarco Elías Calles (Rubén Blades), begins a violent and relentless crackdown against the country's Catholic faithful. The film depicts the carnage by showing churches being set on fire, Catholic priests murdered and countless faithful peasants killed, then having their bodies publicly hang on telegraph poles as a warning to others.

The story shifts to Father Christopher (Peter O’Toole), a Catholic priest, who is ruthlessly murdered by the Federales. A thirteen-year-old boy named José Luis Sanchez (Mauricio Kuri) witnesses the killing. Driven by anger and rage, he joins the rebels, or Cristeros ("soldiers for Christ"), fighting against Calles. Their battle cry is "¡Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long live Christ the King"). The rebel leader, retired general Enrique Gorostieta (Andy Garcia), an atheist, takes an interest in young José and the boy soon becomes his protégé. Later while fighting against the Federales, José is captured in a firefight and is tortured to force him to renounce his belief in God. When he resolutely defends his faith, he is executed. The next year Gorostieta is killed in a battle at Jalisco. In 1929, however, agreements were made to restore religious freedoms. Pope Benedict XVI beatified Jose in 2005 along with twelve other Cristero martyrs.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Photograph that is recreated for the film

The film is based on The Cristero Rebellion, the 1976 chronicle of the war written by French historian Jean Meyer who resides in Mexico.[8]

Filming started in May 2010 and shot for 12 weeks. Production took place between 31 May 2010 and 16 August 2010. The film was shot in Mexico City, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Tlaxcala and Puebla.[9]

At one point in the story the director recreates a famous photograph of hanging cristeros, in the movie being as viewed from a moving train.

Release[edit]

The film had a robust opening in Mexico taking first place in gross admissions at the box office, and second in total receipts, behind Titanic 3D. As of May 11, 2012, it had grossed $2.2 million.[8][10][11]

Reception[edit]

The film has received mixed-to-negative reviews from American critics. Film critic Phil Boatwright called the film "a compelling, thoughtful homage to religious freedom," saying it brings back memories of El Cid and A Man for All Seasons.[10] Stephen Holden of The New York Times described the film as an "old-fashioned, Hollywood-style epic" and said it compared favorably to Christian mega-hits of the 1950s such as The Robe. He was most satisfied with Dean Wright, referring to his direction as "impressively spacious". Composer James Horner also scored high marks for his score which Holden found "uplifting without being syrupy" and which set an "inspirational mood".[12]

Roger Ebert's complaint that "it is well-made, yes, but has such pro-Catholic tunnel vision I began to question its view of events."[13] As of June 20, 2012 it holds a 35% rating on Metacritic based on 17 critics,[14] and a 16% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 42 reviews.[15] The latter site states: "It has laudable aspirations, but For Greater Glory ultimately fails to fulfill its goals due to an overstuffed script, thinly written characters, and an overly simplified dramatization of historical events."

The fact that the Cristero War is little known in the US is illustrated by film critic Steven D. Greydanus. He writes that For Greater Glory may help to rectify the situation. He observes that the film is "one of the most lavish and ambitious films ever produced in Mexico" and "a sweeping, handsome epic with strong performances, solid production values and magnificent locations across Mexico." However he found the screenplay overbearing and would have liked to have seen more character development.[16]

Lauren Markoe, discussing the film for the Religion News Service, wrote:

For Catholics enraged by the Obama administration’s proposed contraception mandate, the film about the Mexican church’s fight in 1920s (sic) is a heartening and timely cinematic boost in the American church’s battle to preserve "religious freedom" in 2012.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Young, James, "Cristiada welcomed in Durango", August 21, 2010, Variety
  2. ^ Joes, Anthony James, Resisting Rebellion, pp. 68, 69–80, The Univ. Press of Kentucky 2006: "The Cristero movement, called by Mexicans La Cristiada, fought against religious persecution by the regime in Mexico City."
  3. ^ Edmonds-Poli, Emily and David A. Shirk Contemporary Mexican Politics, p. 51, Rowman & Littlefield 2009: "Growing outrage at government restrictions and continued persecution of the clergy led to a series of uprisings in central Mexico known collectively as the Cristero rebellion."
  4. ^ Chand, Vikram K., Mexico's Political Awakening, p. 153, Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 2001: “In 1926, the Catholic hierarchy had responded to government persecution by suspending Mass, which was then followed by the eruption of the Cristero War…”
  5. ^ Bethel, Leslie, Cambridge History of Latin America, p. 593, Cambridge Univ. Press: “The Revolution had finally crushed Catholicism and driven it back inside the churches, and there it stayed, still persecuted, throughout the 1930s and beyond”
  6. ^ Ruiz, Ramón Eduardo, Triumphs and Tragedy: A History of the Mexican People, p. 355, W. W. Norton & Company 1993: referring to the period: “With ample cause, the church saw itself as persecuted.”
  7. ^ "Cast of For Greater Glory". Retrieved 5 February 2013.  from official website.
  8. ^ a b Drake, Tim. "Mexican Catholics Fight for Christ in 'For Greater Glory' | News". NCRegister.com. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  9. ^ "‘For Greater Glory’: Recalling Mexico’s Cristeros War". The-tidings.com. 2012-05-11. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  10. ^ a b "Baptist Press - MOVIES: 'For Greater Glory' heralds religious freedom - News with a Christian Perspective". Bpnews.net. 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  11. ^ Catholic Online (1929-06-02). "Cristiada - Film About an Unknown War Box Office Smash in Mexico - Movies & Theatre - Arts & Entertainment - Catholic Online". Catholic.org. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  12. ^ Holden, Stephen (2012-05-31). "‘For Greater Glory’ Traces Mexico’s Cristero War - NYTimes.com". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger (2012-05-30). "For Greater Glory". rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  14. ^ "For Greater Glory Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. 2012-06-01. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  15. ^ "For Greater Glory". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  16. ^ Greydanus, Steven D. "SDG Reviews 'For Greater Glory' | Daily News". NCRegister.com. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  17. ^ "Catholics see a rallying cry for ‘religious freedom’ in ‘For Greater Glory’ film". The Washington Post. 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 

Related reading[edit]

External links[edit]