Romero (film)

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Romero (1989, film poster).jpg
Directed by John Duigan
Produced by Fr. Ellwood (Bud) Kieser
Written by John Sacret Young
Starring Raúl Juliá
Richard Jordan
Ana Alicia
Eddie Velez
Harold Gould
Tony Plana
Music by Gabriel Yared
Cinematography Geoff Burton
Edited by Frans Vandenburg
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • August 25, 1989 (1989-08-25)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10,032
Box office $32,912[1]

Romero is a 1989 American biopic depicting the life of Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero, who organized peaceful protests against the violent military regime, eventually at the cost of his own life. The film stars Raúl Juliá, Richard Jordan as Romero's close friend and fellow martyred priest, Rutilio Grande, as well as actors Ana Alicia and Harold Gould. Although the film depicts true events, there are some fictional characters.


During the 1977 El Salvadoran presidential elections, amid public unrest and a guerrilla uprising, the military regime sends death squads to detain, torture and kill any people who speak out against its human rights record. The Vatican elevates conservative Oscar Arnulfo Romero (Raul Julia) to the position of Archbishop of San Salvador, hoping that he will accept the status quo. Although conservative, Romero is afraid of the government's increasing hostility. After the assassination of Father Rutilio Grande (Richard Jordan), an outspoken Jesuit advocate for the poor, Romero begins to take a stand against the government's policies, prompting the death squads to begin targeting priests.

After failing to rescue a pro-government hostage of the guerrillas in a botched ransom, Romero discovers that his friend Father Osuna (Alejandro Bracho), a militant critic of the ruling regime, has been captured and tortured. After securing his release, Romero instigates a boycott of the president elect's inauguration, defying him by taking Mass in a church the military took over as a barracks. He later attempts to secure the release of a soldier taken hostage by Osuna and the guerrillas, but is arrested in the process. Osuna is subsequently tortured to death. Undeterred, Romero rejects the violent methods of the guerrillas, but is nonetheless assassinated while holding Mass.



Romero is the first feature film from Paulist Pictures, a company founded by the Paulist Fathers, a Roman Catholic society of priests. The company was also known for the production of a long-standing television series called Insight. The film was screened in 1989 at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was directed by Australian filmmaker John Duigan and produced by Paulist Pictures founder Father Ellwood (Bud) Kieser. Alfonso Cuarón, a Mexican film director, worked as an assistant director for this film. Composer Gabriel Yared, who went on to win BAFTA Awards and an Oscar for his other scores, composed the music for Romero.


Romero was generally well received by critics. The film currently holds a 75% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on eight reviews. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a moderately positive review; awarding it two and-a-half stars out of four. Ebert praised Juliá's "restrained and reasonable" performance but felt that the film was predictable and therefore not as powerful as other biopics.[2]


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