There Be Historical Inaccuracies and Lame Storytelling in There Be Dragons

Any stir caused by this stilted historical melodrama is more likely to be over its controversial real-life protagonist than its cinematic merits, such as they are. There Be Dragons compresses, embellishes, and probably whitewashes true events in its depiction of how Catholic priest Josemaría Escrivá (Charlie Cox) founded Opus Dei in the midst of the Spanish Civil War. Writer/director Roland Joffé divides this narrative among three intersecting character threads: Escrivá’s travails under the anti-clericalism of the Republicans, who ultimately force him to flee Madrid; the machinations of his (fictional) childhood friend Manolo (Wes Bentley, wooden as ever), a spoiled Nationalist sympathizer who infiltrates a loyalist cell and bags himself a leftist babe (Olga Kurylenko); and, in the present day, Manolo’s grown son, a writer whose research into Escrivá’s death uncovers Dad’s deceit. Opus Dei’s affiliation with the subsequent Franco regime, and Escrivá’s support of Franco himself, are swept aside here, so haters are advised to dig up their Da Vinci Code DVDs and pass on Dragons. Its appeal for the rest of us is buoyed by cinematographer Gabriel Beristain’s attentiveness to the ravishing Argentinian locations, but the geriatric pacing, flat-footed Old Hollywood pastiche, and Joffé’s inexplicable penchant for tear-jerking Catholic mysticism make Dragons more punishing than a hundred Hail Marys.

 
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17 comments
Debbie
Debbie

I stumbled across this movie thinking it would be about the Spanish Civil War. As it turns out it is a hagiography of a man of very dubious character. The film had all the dramatic tension of a flat soda while Josemaria stumbles around trying to look perplexed and humble. I'd give this one a pass.

Stephen DiCarlo
Stephen DiCarlo

Are we to assume Mr. Holcomb has prayed 100 Hail Mary's to know that the movie is " more punishing than a hundred Hail Marys." or did we just get an insight as to the bias of his whole review.

Joscurtin
Joscurtin

Escrivá was born José María Escrivá, but changed his name to Josemaria. Later he added to his name to make it sound more "aristocratic" - Josemaria Escrivá de Balaguer. That not being enough, he appended to his name once more to make it even more impressive - Josemaria Escrivá de Balaguer y Albás. His latest foray into egocentrism was to have himself made a Marques, and he became Josemaria Escrivá de Balaguer y Albás, Marques de Peralta.When it came time for the cause of Escrivá to be considered for sainthood, the usual procedures were bypassed, and no one critical of Escrivá ever got to testify. Escrivá became a back-door saint, and the vast majority of Catholics have never heard of him.The egotism and self-centeredness of Escrivá and Opus Dei is obvious from their need to live in lavish surroundings, with women always in a subservient role. Why would an organization like Opus Dei, with only 3,000 members in the US, build itself a skyscraper in New York City for its national headquarters?http://www.emporis.com/applica...For a truer picture of the man Escrivá and the organization Opus Dei, read Maria del Carmen Tapia's book about her life in Opus Dei.

Enabler1
Enabler1

This review is obviously biased and wrong. I really enjoyed this movie and would watch it again.

Ihminen
Ihminen

I don't know a lot about cinema, but really liked it!

Mtm14
Mtm14

I concur, the film was fantastic, rivals the King's Speech for my favs this year. Powerful. I've not shed tears at a film in quite a while, very moving.

Lascriptguy
Lascriptguy

The film is really dreadful. Just saw it. The reviewer is right. The previous plants have to be from opus deity members or similar individuals who have a stake in the film or the topic.

Bengareau
Bengareau

After less than the first paragraph of this review I knew this has to be a "must see" film. If hacks like the schmoe that scrawled this dribble out don't like a film the has a religious theme to it, that means everyone should see it.

margret hamilton
margret hamilton

Interpretation of reviewer: It's the Catholic mysticism that really gnaws at your insides, hence, you will take the well-worned cynical approach to anything edifying in this feature. We've heard that song before, i.e. The Passion of the Christ was nothing more than a "gore fest" says the NY Times. It's ok guys. Catholics are used to persecution... and also failed overtures to the agnostics. Or are you not even willing (read: wise and honest enough) to acknowledge your Creator?

Weenliker
Weenliker

While you're probably correct about the reviewer's sentiments toward Catholicism (and for that matter most likely religion in general), it is silly to assume that a non-believer is not "wise and honest". Are you not even willing (read wise and honest enough) to acknowledge that there is no evidence to support your belief in Allah or Zeus or Mithra or Krishna or David Koresh or whoever? And by the way, mere existence is not proof of anything, except mere existence. The film was pretty good; I actually really enjoy films with mysticism and magic in them.

margret hamilton
margret hamilton

Thanks for your comment. As to your claim "there is no evidence to support your belief in Allah or Zeus or Mithra," et al., well that is a shame. As Cardinal Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) said to an interviewer who asked "How do you know there is a God and why does He allow so much suffering?" --- the cardianl replied "there are a thousand books and hundreds of saints who have been given staggering revelations for our edification, but now you expect it all explained in one paragraph?" I can assure you Mr. Weenliker that the empirical evidence for the Judeo-Christian God can stand up to the most diligent of scrutiny. Fatima, Portugal, Oct. 13, 1917 is beyond doubt. So is Zeitoun, Egypt 1968, read the NY Times articles on that concerning the Virgin Mary appearing before hundreds of thousands of Egyptians. So is Akita, Japan, 1973, irrefutable where a wooden of the Virgin Mary wept tears of blood 101 times, including before TV cameras and medical skeptics who did a thorough examination and replied "no known natural explanation exists." I could go on and on if you were interested.

Ween Liker
Ween Liker

None of your examples are proof of anything. Hindus have the same types of mass hysteria "miracles". I guess Krishna is real too? There is absolutely no EMPIRICAL evidence of your god or any other. Maybe you don't know what empirical evidence means?

artfromcal
artfromcal

There be Dragons is not a story of one man or a movement per se, rather the movie touches on what our lives would end up becoming in the absence of faith and reason. Life is a battle field, and what more that best describes it but the tragic events of the Spanish Civil War. There be dragons is a phrase used by explorers in the past in order to depict danger on their navigational maps. In our experiences, it meant that we have certain truths that we thought are hard to accept, but if we learn to face it with courage, such truths will set us free.

Thibaud
Thibaud

Escriva did not support Franco. Nor any other political leaders. He was a priest, not a politician. This is libel or ignorance.

Opus Dei was not affiliated with the subsequent Franco regime. Some of the members of the Opus Dei were affiliated with the subsequent Franco regime (half a dozen ministers) though not until the late 1950's (20 years after Franco's victory in the Civil War). They were decisive in convincing Franco to renounce fascism and modernize the Spanish economy. However, other members of the Opus Dei were affiliated with the opposition to the Franco regime (for instance : Rafael Calvo Serer (http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.... Opus Dei is not a political organization, its members are free to join any political organization they want, provided it helps them becoming better Christians.

I'd avise you to research a bit more about the Opus Dei before making those claims. You may start with their official website (they have one and it is not controlled by an albino killer monk ! Logical, since 97% of the members of the Opus Dei are laymen and exactly 0% are monks).

mildred
mildred

There be inaccuracies in your review. A shame that you couldn't take the time to even watch the film...

Schepisi
Schepisi

You are an anti-Catholic bigot! 100 Hail Mary's are not punishment! That prayer is scripture from the Gospel of Luke, you know, the Word of God.

I'm sorry, you are too sophisticated for my simple criticism, after all you use words like pastiche.

Hey writer, your inexplicable over attentiveness to the craft of writing, solely on the internet, in a poor attempt to be a professional writer falls flat-footed, although it is buoyed by your over-attentiveness to demonstrate your supposed intellect through vocabulary, while demonstrating ignorance of Catholic mysticism.

The gospel is folly to the wise of this world.

 

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