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June 05, 2012

"For Greater Glory" Cracks Top Ten In Limited Release

I saw this movie on Sunday, and am still writing a review. Overall, I'd say three stars.

Conservatives need to ask themselves why they're not seeing it. The show I attended, late afternoon on Sunday, was no more than 8% filled. About 13 people there (I counted) in a theater that holds around 150.

You can't bitch that Hollywood doesn't make conservatively-themed movies and then not show up to support it with cash-money dollars when someone does.

In addition, it's a good movie. It's got a lot of flaws (which I'll mention in my review), but the story is compelling.

If you don't know the story (and I bet few did): In 1927, an atheist takes over as president of socialist Mexico (the revolution had been ten years earlier) and begins, as they do, imposing a host of noxious anti-clerical laws. Socialists often hate religion from the jump, and have no modesty about the ambitious of government -- government, in their view, exists to make people better, including by coercive law, and in their view religion is a stupid superstition and therefore "making people better" means driving the religion out of them.

Beyond that impulse, they often believe the Vatican is reactionary/conservative, and despise the fact that "agents of a foreign power" have any capacity to challenge socialist government officials in the battle of ideas.

A rebellion rises up, with intellectuals and priests pushing an economic boycott to bring down the government, and riders out in the hillside taking a more... direct approach. Andy Garcia plays a gifted general (he defeated the bandit lord Zapata) now in soft-bellied retirement, overseeing a plant that makes... pink decorative soaps. Although he himself is an atheist, his wife and children are devoutly Catholic, and he supports religious liberty. In theory -- he just doesn't think anyone should make any waves about it.

The League for the Defense of Religious Liberty (yes, it was called that, or just "the League") hires him. And they do stress "hire" -- his compensation package is detailed. So this mercenary atheist general takes command of the disorganized rebels, and tries to shape them into some kind of effective fighting force.

So it's Braveheart in 1920's Mexico, with an overtly religious theme. Plus, lots of stuff about freedom. (A lot.)

I have problems with the film -- mostly structural problems with the script, big-picture problems, as opposed to carping about this line of dialogue or that -- but it's a big, worthy film, and it's about resistance in the face of socialist persecution and anti-religious zealotry, and freedom, and family, and yes, about faith too.

So why haven't you seen it?

Film is a business. Hollywood makes lots of gory zombie films because in 70 years only a handful of gory zombie movies have failed to make money. They're profitable.

So, make the sort of film you say you'd like Hollywood to make profitable. It cracked the top ten, but the "top ten" doesn't make producers' eyes pop.

Given the demographic of the movie, and the fact that theaters aren't packed to the rafters, the typical hassles associated with the theater -- unruly teenagers, long waits, bad seats -- aren't present. The only crowd noise I had to deal with in my screening was a couple of older men talking about socialism during the trailers.

Oh: I guess I didn't make it clear what kind of movie this is (and the limited advertisements didn't either). It's a war movie. It's about the Cristero War, and the war is depicted. Like, that thing about the intellectuals? That's the first 20 minutes. After that, it's war.

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posted by Ace at 04:06 PM

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