Yet that is what director Roland Joffe, of The Killing Fields and The Mission fame (who by-the-way considers himself an agnostic), appears to have done in next month’s release of There Be Dragons.
The movie is set during the Spanish Civil War and is the story of two childhood friends, Josemaria Escriva, who becomes a Catholic priest, and Manolo Torres, who when war breaks out, find themselves on opposite sides.
The official movie web site explains:
There Be Dragons is an epic action-adventure romance set during the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War. The story traces the lives of two young men, Josemaria Escriva (Charlie Cox) and Manolo Torres (Wes Bentley), childhood friends who are separated by the political upheaval of pre-war Spain to find themselves on opposite sides as war erupts. Choosing peace, Josemaria becomes a priest and struggles to spread reconciliation by founding the movement Opus Dei (work of God).In an article on National Catholic Register on a press conference the movie director held in Spain, Joffe gives some perspective on the movie and story:
Manolo chooses war and becomes a spy for the fascists. He becomes obsessed with a beautiful Hungarian revolutionary, Ildiko, who has joined the militia in pursuit of passion and purpose. But when Ildiko rejects him out of love for the courageous militia leader Oriol, Manolo's jealousy leads him down a path of betrayal.
As personal and national battles rage, the characters' lives collide and their deepest struggles are illuminated through the fateful choices they make. Each will struggle to find the power of forgiveness over the forces tearing their lives and friendship apart.
In a way, it was Josemaria’s very controversiality that made him interesting, Joffé suggested, adding, “I don’t think an uncontroversial saint is a very good idea. I’m not quite sure how you could be an uncontroversial saint, because … if you are a saint, that means you stand for something.”...
“Each saint is asked a different question by his period in history, and that question becomes the central thing of his life,” the filmmaker asserted. “I was very struck that, at a time when the world was splitting up ideologically, this man fought very hard for the idea of freedom of choice — not only freedom of choice, but the importance of choice — the importance of owning every choice you make in your life. And making your choices in such a way that you feel proud of them.”...
“Though science may try to tell us that we are some result of chemicals and electrical impulses and that we have no free will, what should we do? At the very worst, we have ‘free won’t’ — which means we have decisions about doing something besides not to do it. For all our lives, there will be choice, and there is something about us as human beings that is capable of exercising that choice.”
The capacity for choice, Joffé reflected, was also the capacity for saintliness. “When you think about a saint,” he mused, “you’re not really thinking about a sort of continuum. You’re thinking about lots of acts — lots of times when different things could have been chosen, but certain things were.The film opens in May and appears to be worth the money of the ticket: