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'For Greater Glory': a bloody, inspiring religious fight in '20s Mexico
A movie review of "For Greater Glory," a powerful, visually elegant picture about a brutal civil war that pitted Catholics against the repressive government of Mexico during the late 1920s.
Special to The Seattle Times
'For Greater Glory,' with Andy Garcia, Rubén Blades, Mauricio Kuri, Santiago Cabrera, Peter O'Toole. Directed by Dean Wright, from a screenplay by Michael Love. 143 minutes. Rated R for war violence and some disturbing images. Several theaters.
"For Greater Glory" tells the tale of a brutal civil war. Battles are fierce and casualties high. Atrocities are committed by both sides. Children are tortured. Catholic churches are desecrated. Priests are shot by firing squads. Rebels are hanged from telegraph poles and left to rot to break the spirit of their supporters.
All of this actually happened in Mexico in the late 1920s in the conflict known as the Cristero War, when the repressive anti-Catholic policies of President Plutarco Calles, an atheist, triggered an uprising among members of the faithful. An estimated 90,000 people on both sides lost their lives. A number of the slain priests were canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000.
Much of this is depicted in "For Greater Glory." It's a powerful, visually elegant picture from first-time director Dean Wright. (Michael Love wrote the screenplay.)
Shot on location in Mexico, it is anchored by the performances of Rubén Blades, who plays Calles, and Andy Garcia, cast in the role of Enrique Gorostieta, a retired general hired by the rebels to forge them into an effective fighting force.
Blades plays Calles as a man of cold calculation, a reformist who sees the Catholic Church as a foreign presence and passes harsh anticlerical laws to severely restrict its power and influence in Mexican society.
Garcia's Gorostieta, though not a Catholic, is a man of conscience and compassion motivated to join the rebels by a quiet, deep-seated anger at the mistreatment of the Catholics by Calles.
Complex webs of alliances on both sides — the U.S. allies itself with Calles to protect its business interests in Mexico, while the anti-Calles forces are split between those advocating peaceful resistance and those favoring armed struggle — are presented with clarity.
The fight for religious freedom is bloody in this picture, and inspiring as well.
Soren Andersen: email@example.com