Skip to comments.Viva Cristo Rey!
Posted on 05/30/2012 4:30:53 AM PDT by Kaslin
When I first heard "For Greater Glory" (originally titled "Cristiada," which I prefer) was being shot, I was stunned -- and skeptical. It never could be produced by Hollywood. In fact, it wouldn't be a theatrical release, maybe a short documentary, certainly with a small budget. On the former, I was correct; it was made in Mexico. On the latter, I was wrong; it's a full-fledged major motion picture with grade-A talent. And it's wonderful.
The cast includes Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Peter O'Toole (in a cameo role as a murdered priest, the octogenarian is splendid), Ruben Blades and Mexican star Eduardo Verastegui. This is serious stuff.
The movie depicts the Mexican Cristero uprising against the military dictatorship of President Plutarco Calles between 1926 and 1929. Calles was an ardent anti-Catholic in a nation dominated by Catholics. At his command, Catholic churches were ordered shuttered, and Mass was outlawed. Many priests were murdered.
The most famous moment in the struggle, not depicted in the film, was the martyrdom of Padre Miguel Pro. Calles ordered a firing squad to shoot him in 1927, with the heart-wrenching final moments (Pro kneeling in prayer and then standing, his arms extended in the sign of the cross as bullets shattered him, and then shot point-blank when the fusillade didn't kill him) photographed by order of the "presidente." Padre Pro was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988.
I was shown the early trailers because of the family connection. My grandfather Will Buckley Sr. was a strong supporter of the Cristeros'. A devout Catholic with business interests in Mexico and an ardent love of that country -- so much so that he planned to move his family there -- Buckley provided materiel aid to the impoverished peasants. Some things we know to be true. He was targeted for assassination; his oil leases were expropriated by the government; he was expelled. Others are in question: that there was an actual attempt to kill him (another version has it that the assassins turned and offered him assistance should he want someone capped); that a train he hired to smuggle in arms from El Paso (maybe) became lost, wandered about at night and ultimately found its way back to El Paso and the weapons were confiscated; and that his heirs also were banished -- but don't tell my cousin who has been practicing law there for decades.
You know nothing of this uprising? Not to worry. Virtually no one does. That included the primary actors. Garcia tells Religion News Service he knew nothing but understands it, given that the same catastrophe befell his native Cuba, where it "was not only the taking away of religious rights. They curtailed and took away all rights." Even Verastegui, a fervent Catholic, admits he was ignorant of this struggle because of the Mexican public school system. That has changed now, thanks to the soft-spoken and elegant Mexican real estate developer-turned-producer Pablo Jose Barroso.
Much is being written about the timing of the movie's release in the wake of the Obama administration's anti-religious mandate and on the eve of the bishops' planned "Fortnight for Freedom" June 21 through July 4. The timing is extraordinary but fortuitous. The movie was planned before President Barack Obama's assault against the Catholic Church.
But just the idea of the connection brings out the worst in the secularist press. Slant Magazine pans it as a film "that gives the screen epic a bad name." It attacks the "solemn speechifying," the "overstuffed cast of characters" and the "half-baked material," and given "this religion is specifically Catholic ... the film ... makes the material a tough sell." When Garcia's character ultimately converts to Christianity, "we're back to embracing a worldview where the implied mandate to practice Catholicism feels nearly as onerous as the inability to do so."
But how historically accurate is this "implied mandate to practice Catholicism"? Here's a hint. Slant dismisses "a whole host of bathetic subplots," claiming "its martyrdom fetish reaches its grotesque nadir when a young boy dies rather than make the most token anti-Catholic gesture."
As for the alleged mushy effusiveness and the martyrdom fetish, there are some historical facts. More than 90,000 died. Dozens have since been canonized by the church, including 25 by John Paul II alone. The young boy was Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio, who was tortured with his heels slashed before being made to walk to his execution. "He cried and moaned with pain," stated an eyewitness. And then he was shot dead.
The "most token anti-Catholic gesture," which would have saved his life, was his refusal to shout "Death to Christ the King," instead proclaiming, "Viva Cristo Rey!"
Jose was 14. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
It is still illegal to celebrate Mass outdoors in Mexico.
This looks to be an exceptionally good film....and it couldn’t come at a better time in history.
¡Viva Cristo Rey indeed!
An inside look at the new motion picture “For Greater Glory.” This special chronicles the history of the Cristero War with interviews from leading historians, several cast members, and Catholic leaders.
It does look like a good movie to see. I will probably see it this weekend
I had not heard anything about it until a couple weeks ago when I saw the previews. I think in a summer of big budget movies, this could be one of the biggest movies. Expect a collective yawn from Hollywood because of it’s content. I think it will make plenty of money and rack up no award nominations...
I saw it last week. Very well done. It’s obviously not a big budget Hollywood action flick, but it is quality with a great cast.
It’s coming here on Friday
I’m really looking forward to seeing it. There’s a big push on by the Knights of Columbus to publicize it’s release. Nine of the martyrs were Caballeros de Colon.
...as well as many of those fighting for their right to practise the Faith.
A high school classmate of mine had an Uncle who was a priest that was martryed in this attack on the Church in Mexico. He was canonized as a Saint in 1988 by JP II. I do not recall his first name, but he was known as Father Flores.
I fully intend to see this movie.
Eva Longoria is a certifiable Grade-A left-wing whack job.
I am amazed she took this gig.
I’d need to evidence of that. Eva Longoria has called out Sean Penn and the other Hollywood commies who fall down at the feet of the Castros and Hugo Chavez. She has no compunctions about denouncing communism and Hollywood phonies.
I am taking my 82 year old mother to see this movie. She is very anxious to see the film. I seem to remember that the first international visit Pope John Paul II made was to Mexico. It would be interesting to know if these events influenced his decision to go.
I think you might be referring to María Conchita Alonso.
you're absolutely right! My apologies to Mr. McFrog. longoria is an obama co-chair! Ewww. My apologies to Ms. Alonso as well and especially!
I hope to see it FRI nite. I hope that it is shown in a theater near me, and not in one of the “Art” theatres that have no parking nearby and require long walks in dark neighborhoods. If I can’t see it FRI nite, I will definiitely go in CA the following week.
Right now, I am re-reading a 1945 novel about the Viva Cristo Rey! period and the strife by Alice Tisdale Hobart that I happen to own. I was in the process of giving the book to my daughter when I decided to flip through the pages. I decided that I had to re-read it before giving it away. My daughter will have to wait until I finish the book. The title is “The Peacock Sheds its Tail.” I think that Mrs. Hobart spent time in Mexico as a result of her husband’s employment. She condenses incidents and dates, but there is the ring of truth in her portrayal. I figure that it will be a good into to Friday’s movie.
Maybe Eva learned a few things making this picture—there is hope for every sinner! I do not see a lot of films but I will see this one.
From National Catholic Register ...
When a young French graduate student named Jean Meyer arrived in Mexico in 1965 to write his doctoral thesis on the religious war known as the Cristiada, the topic was virtually unknown to historians. A conflict between Catholics and the government that had claimed the lives of approximately 250,000 people between 1926 and 1929 remained cloaked in official silence, and the archives of Church and state related to the struggle were closed to investigators.
The work done by Meyer would ultimately help to provide the general framework for the new movie For Greater Glory, although the movie deviates substantially from the documented facts of the war’s history. After five years of research and interviews with hundreds of eyewitnesses, Meyer completed his work: La Cristiada, a three-volume account of the war and its historical antecedents.
To his surprise, a Mexican publishing house of a decidedly Marxist bent, Siglo Veintiuno Editores, agreed to publish the work, beginning in 1972, and it has been in print ever since, having passed through more than 20 editions. Meyer eventually became a Mexican citizen, and today he lives in Mexico City, working as a professor and researcher at the Economic and Teaching Research Center.
With La Cristiada, Meyer established himself as the principal academic historian of Mexico’s epic war to save the Catholic religion. Meyer, 70, spoke with Register correspondent Matthew Cullinan Hoffman to discuss the Cristiada, its historical ramifications and his own personal odyssey.