"Authentic and Compelling"
Roland Jaffe has a gift for creating authentic compelling movie visions. His directorial style and his ability to elicit fine performances from the actors give an aura of importance to the movie THERE BE DRAGONS. The movie tells the story of Josemaria Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, through his relationship with the fictional atheistic character of Manolo.
The movie opens with a journalist named Robert given the assignment of investigating the canonization of Josemaría Escrivá and in the process finds out the true and deeply disturbing story of his father, Manolo, who grew up with Josemaría.
As young boys, Josemaria and Manolo were close friends. Twisted by his father’s aloofness, wealth, the stress of fighting the unions that killed his father, Manolo becomes a self-centered, selfish individual willing to do anything, including kill the person he loves the most when he serves as a spy for the Fascists in the Spanish Civil. What is at stake is Manolo’s salvation. In many ways, he is an archetypal villain.
Josemaria is Manolo’s best friend, until Manolo’s bitterness and envy triumph over their friendship. Although Josemaria can easily get swept up in the same human failings as Manolo, instead he discovers the love of God and grows close to God while perceiving the biblical truth that Jesus died for everyone who accepts him as Lord and Savior and the other biblical truth that God loves all of our labors, no matter how insignificant, as long as they are dedicated to Him through kindness, patience and the other biblical character traits. In other words, Josemaria discovers that God takes joy in our labors, just as Luther realized several hundred years before him.
This realization inspires Josemaria to create Opus Dei, or God’s Work, where people who are not clerics can join together as individuals or married couples, to dedicate themselves to God’s work in their everyday lives. Throughout this spiritual growth, Josemaria’s passion remains to lead Manolo back to Christ.
Director Roland Joffe surrounds Josemaria with fictional characters and deals with universal themes of love, betrayal and redemption over many years that include the wartime violence of the Spanish Civil. There are some wonderful theological reflections and some overt conversions.
THERE BE DRAGONS reaches far beyond the Catholic audience and has only a few Catholic religious moments, including a brief flagellation scene. Thus, a broad range of Christians should appreciate this movie.
There is wartime violence and some point blank pistol executions, but these are filmed in the least offensive manner possible. Also, there is a love interest, who is sleeping with several revolutionaries to further the cause of the revolution, but nothing is shown. Finally, there are several light obscenities, one of which is at the end in the midst of a powerful conversion scene. This detracts from the power of the climatic moment, but fits in with the characters.
Foolishly, the Communist revolutionary leader says, “Wait for you on the other side,” while he’s dying. Since Communists are materialists, they don’t believe in an afterlife.
To sum up, THERE BE DRAGONS is a powerful movie that gives a moving insight into the life of an important Christian servant.
(CCC, BB, Cap, Acap, So, AC, L, VV, S, N, A, D, M) Very strong Catholic Christian worldview set at the time of the Spanish Civil War with several conversions and some positive and some negative capitalist elements, some positive leftist characters and some negative leftist activity in the persecution of the priests; eight obscenities including the dying statement at the end using the word “ass”; strong violence includes man walking in bare feet through the snow, fist fight at Catholic seminary, war time violence including point blank pistol executions, and flagellation; marital kissing and discussion of sexual activity outside of marriage; upper male nudity; mild alcohol; smoking; and betrayal, spying, lying and other illicit behavior that is eventually rebuked.
THERE BE DRAGONS is a compelling historical drama about Josemaria Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, and his relationship with Manolo, a fictional atheistic character. As young boys, Josemaria and Manolo were close friends. Twisted by his father’s aloofness, wealth and the stress of fighting the unions that killed his father, Manolo becomes a self-centered, selfish person willing to do anything while serving the national socialists in Spain. Josemaria instead discovers the love of God. This inspires him to create Opus Dei, or God’s Work, where laypeople can join together as individuals or married couples to dedicate themselves to God’s work. Josemaria’s passion remains to lead Manolo back to Christ.
THERE BE DRAGONS is compelling and authentic. Despite the Catholic background, a broad range of Christians should appreciate this movie. There’s wartime violence and some point blank executions, but these are filmed in the least offensive manner possible. Also, there’s a love interest who sleeps with several revolutionaries to further the revolution, but nothing is shown. Finally, there are several light obscenities. THERE BE DRAGONS is a powerful movie that gives a moving insight into the life of an important Christian servant.