Tuesday, June 28, 2011
“There Be Dragons,” But Not in this Movie
One of the two main characters is Josémaria Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei. If Joffe’s intent was to create a pro–Opus Dei film (and the movie is, if anything, refreshingly pro–Church), why in the name of all that’s holy did Joffe make Escrivá such a goody two-shoes, without even a hint of a dark side? (True, he flagellates himself after seeing his mentor, a priest, assassinated in the street, but that single icky act reveals little about his humanity.) I felt my own cynical hackles rising within ten minutes of being introduced to this sweet boy in white who grows up to become a sweet man in black. I could only imagine what a non-Christian or anti-Catholic would feel upon seeing “There Be Dragons.” But then most people never did see it.
The other main character is Escrivá’s possibly fictional childhood friend, who becomes a Red Brigades revolutionary in the Spanish Civil War; falls in love with a fellow revolutionary; sees her fall in love with a leader of their cell; and then kills her after the revolutionary leader commits suicide and she gives birth to their child, which the friend of José Maria then raises, if you’re even following this. If Joffe wanted to create a big-money Tinseltown potboiler, why the hell did he mix the controversial Opus Dei into his plotting?
In the end viewers are left with a movie that’s neither this nor that.
Members of our CL School of Community saw the film together last night at the local cinema, and the only saving grace for me was hearing the judgments of my friends. While I seem to have taken a cynical film-reviewer stance in front of “There Be Dragons,” Julie and Elizabeth approached the film with open eyes and heart, and both reported being moved by the character of St. Josémaria (canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002). Both of my friends said that they want to learn much more about Opus Dei and its founder since seeing the film. If so, then “There Be Dragons” accomplished something.