I had a chance to speak with Andy Garcia yesterday about his new film, For Greater Glory, which tells the story of the Cristero War in 1920s Mexico. Garcia plays General Enrique Gorostieta, who was hired by Catholic rebels to lead their armed resistance against the virulently anti-Catholic regime of President Plutarco Elias Calles. link
What really struck Garcia about the story when he first read the script, he told me, was the way it “reeked of classic Hollywood epics, like John Ford used to make, like How the West Was Won.” The script reminded him of the kind of movies he loved to watch growing up.
He did say that the struggle for religious freedom—“the very essence of what the Cristeros were fighting for,” as he put it—is an ongoing struggle. “This is not just something of the past, this is something of the present.” The fight for religious freedom is ongoing all over the world, he added.
Garcia’s own experience as a Cuban exile is a constant reminder of that. Born in Cuba just before the Revolution, his family fled to Florida shortly after Castro came to power. The struggle for religious freedom is inextricably linked to our other freedoms, Garcia said, thus the importance of religious freedom is universal.
Garcia himself is Catholic, but seems particularly resistant to the idea that For Greater Glory is a “Catholic movie” in the parochial sense. The universality of the dramatic themes in For Greater Glory—heroism and sacrifice in the cause of human freedom—make them easy to champion, Garcia says, and for people everywhere to admire. He returns to the theme of universality again and again.
And well he should: For Greater Glory isn’t a Catholic movie for Catholics. It’s not even just a move about religious freedom.
The movie Schindler’s List tells a story of the Jewish people in a particular way, Garcia explained, but no one would think that movie was just for Jewish people…or that Braveheart was a movie just for Scottish people. “You don’t have to be Catholic to see [For Greater Glory]. You didn’t have to be Catholic to be in it. You don’t have to be Catholic to understand the importance of the story. It will resonate with everyone.”
As much as the question of religious freedom is on the minds of Americans today (and Catholics in particular) For Greater Glory never chases headlines. The film is mercifully free of the kind of propaganda—religious, political, or otherwise—that could so easily have ruined this magnificent and moving story. The true humanity of that story—the one thing Garcia hopes people are able to take away from this film—is allowed to speak for itself.
For Greater Glory is rated R (violence) and opens June 1.
A friend sent this to me today. Hadn't heard about it. Sounds like it might be worth checking out.