For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada

With a surprising cast for its apparent budget, a film score by James Horner and well-done cinematography, For Greater Glory still suffers from a lagging script. However, it’s worth seeing… because it’s free online…

…and also because while time passes slowly in the beginning, between short and wandering scenes that meander around the story’s central drama, it champions timeless principles and it does get better in its craft as the story progresses.

In 1920’s Mexico, President Plutarco Elías Calles takes it upon himself to enact a law that infringes on the citizens’ religious rights. Tension prior to this law had been steadily building, but it culminates into violence when the citizens defy their President, who answers by sending his troops into Catholic churches to murder the people they find there and destroy the churches themselves.

In turn, the people respond with a revolution lead by former General, Enrique Gorostieta Velarde.

Dean Wright‘s directorial debut doesn’t cut corners when it comes to
the actual filming, or the cast. Peter O’Toole (Father Christopher) may sometimes look like a senior citizen who’s lost in his own rest home, but the man can act.

There’s a particularly moving scene in which Father Christopher whispers a prayer as he stands in front of the firing squad about to execute him. It might look like he’s gumming peach purée, but really he mouths the words of a prayer to a child who looks on tearfully from the safety of a bell tower behind the firing squad.

Andy Garcia’s bravado gets a little thick, but he fits the bill for a powerful
leader as well as the surrogate father to José (Mauricio Kuri). Also to his credit, the novice director draws from his skills as a visual effects supervisor/producer which he exercised in the L.O.T.R. movies to create some great visuals and he captures beautiful landscapes in the master shots throughout the movie.

This “The Patriot”/”Machine Gun Preacher” blend might actually come across as a little something from the Hallmark Channel, but give it a chance, because the heart of the story is something that resonates. Here’s why:

With the revolutionaries divided over the fear of their government’s military strength and the realization that tyranny is more costly than death, they become united, not because they’re organized under Enrique Velarde’s experienced leadership and poise, but because inaction on their part means surrendering their livelihood and the livelihood of their loved ones.

Believe me when I warn you, this movie gets heavy. The president in this story
is a debased man, he sends his lieutenant with a penchant for torture on a manhunt for a young boy. I don’t give away spoilers, so I’ll say no more. But consider the words of Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes in “A Game of Shadows”:
“bad people do bad things because they can.”

No reason could
stop Calles’ murdering, but only the armed and organized citizens who knew what  to fear most and how to answer that tyranny.

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