BY KYLE & AIMEE MURPHY
For Greater Glory, formerly titled Cristiada, is a recent film set during the Cristeros War in Mexico. In the 1920s, the Mexican government led by President Elias Calles began to persecute the Catholic Church in Mexico, forbidding public Catholic worship. While the Catholic clergy and faithful continued to practice their faith, government forces destroyed churches and executed many of the faithful.
For Greater Glory is unabashedly pro-Catholic, showing the heroic resistance of Mexican Catholics both militarily and in martyrdom. Unlike most movies termed as Catholic movies, For Greater Glory is actually fairly well-made. The Mexican locations show well on film, and most scenes are directed well. While many production aspects are high, the dialogue does fall short in some places. In addition, my major critique of the movie is the acting of Andy Garcia, who plays Enrique Gorostieta. His dialogue is delivered with very little emotion behind it, and he seems uncomfortable in most scenes he plays. On the other hand, Mauricio Kuri plays the young Jose quite adeptly, and redeems the film and brings it to life.
The question raised during the movie is that of the appropriate resistance to take against the anti-Catholic government. The story mainly follows the Cristeros, those who consider themselves to be soldiers for Christ and the Church and who take up arms against Calles and his soldiers. Despite the fact that much of the film focuses on their rebellion, several other characters do disagree and argue for non-violent resistance through diplomacy, the law, and martyrdom.
While For Greater Glory brings up this moral question of whether armed resistance is an appropriate response to government suppression of liberty and faith, it does not delve deeply into the question. The movie does not take an official stance on the question of violent resistance, but the amount of screen time devoted to the war waged by the Cristeros does seem to glorify their armed conflict. The fact that must be noted is that the Catholic Church beatified and canonized only those who were strong in the non-violent conflict, or those who had repented of their action in armed or violent conflicts. At the end of the credits, there are vignettes of the holy martyrs of the Church, and it is evinced through the Church's wisdom that the most moral route to take lay in the non-violent path. As it shows, strength in spirit and faith in God was the most valuable asset in the conflict; as Aimee's great-uncle Saint Cristobal Magallanes Jara said before his death at the hands of the Calles regime, "May my blood serve to unite my Mexican brethren." The martyrdom of the faithful in junction with a strong armed conflict seemed to work together, but which served unity better? In the end, For Greater Glory is worth seeing for gaining knowledge and perspective on a little-known conflict, as well as a beautiful piece on faith, death, and the struggle for liberty.