Friday, March 8, 2013

"For Greater Glory" with Andy Garcia and Peter O'Toole (2012)

In 1917, as the United States went to war with Germany, Mexico had a Revolution. The new President, Plutarco Calles, had promised all kinds of land reforms, but by 1926 he was instituting some of the most draconian laws ever imposed on the citizens of Mexico. He outlawed the Catholic Church, making it a crime to worship in public and even in the privacy of one’s own home. To ensure that his edict was enforced he sent out troops to pillage the churches and hang the Priests.

Economic boycotts were used at first to bring down the regime, but this action only inflamed President Calles further, sparking even more killings.

Peter O’Toole plays the Priest who is executed for continuing to hold mass, and his death sparks a nascent movement, turning it into a full blown conflict between the Mexican people and their government. That conflict would echo around the world, moving officials at the Vatican to implore President Calvin Coolidge to undertake some sort of diplomatic role in the conflict just south of our border.

The League for Religious Liberty (LNDR) sprang into life, with soldiers and citizens working clandestinely to arm the citizens and take back their churches. With the aid of a sympathetic General Gorostieta, who is played by Andy Garcia, the group becomes powerful and threatening to the established government. The General is not religious, but is married to a very devout Catholic, played by Eva Longoria, who does not believe in violence and is torn by the actions of her husband, who believes in the freedom of worship.

Expertly written by Michael Love, this movie is as pertinent today as it was when the actual events took place almost 100 years ago. Able acting by all, including Eva Longoria, the film raises timeless questions about freedom and morality, as well as the responsibility of governments to protect their people, and not exploit them.

Based upon the true life events of the movement which became known as the “Cristiada”; which restored religious freedom to the people of Mexico; the movie calls to mind a question which still baffles us today. When is it right to fight against religion; and is it ever right to fight for it? 

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