Sunday, November 6, 2011

There Be Dragons

For the first time, I am blogging about a movie. Not because I have anything to do with it, but because I think it’s truly entertaining, educational and at the same time, very inspiring!

Thanks to the persistence of my mom, I found myself watching an advanced screening of THERE BE DRAGONS last October 1 at the Mall of Asia sponsored by Educhild.

The title sounded a bit weird to me having been told earlier that the movie revolves around the life of a saint. His name is St. Josemaria Escriva, who was named by Blessed John Paul II as "the saint of the ordinary." As I have mentioned in passing in a previous blog, I have some sort of devotion to him since I strongly agree with his mantra: that we don’t have to do ‘great’ things in order to become saints but rather we must find God in the simplest and most ordinary events in our lives.

I found out later that the title was given to unknown lands in the olden times that were yet unexplored and where dragons may be found, figuratively speaking. The movie revolves around the life of Josemaria and his childhood friend, a fictional character named Manolo. In the movie, you will see Josemaria persistently trying to fulfill his mission in the midst of a violent and dangerous Spanish civil war during the 1930s.

I do not intend to give away the story in this blog. You may get a synopsis of it and watch the trailer at I invite you to watch the movie yourself and experience what I felt watching it for the first time.

Honestly, I thought the movie would be quite dragging as lives of saints are usually portrayed as very pious, where it is easy to guess what comes next. Apparently, there were a lot of twists and turns in the story. The cinematography was excellent as well and I enjoyed the war scenes too!

One of my favorite scenes was when Josemaria’s friends surprised him with a birthday cake and entertained themselves with his worn-out shoes. It’s very touching how people can be genuinely happy with such simple pleasures in life despite being poor.


Here are some of the values that can be seen and reflected upon from the film.

Timelessness of friendship. Josemaria exemplified what could be the highest form of friendship -- that of giving without expecting anything in return, only wanting the best for your friend: God. Josemaria and Manolo started to take completely different paths after their seminary days where they were shown exchanging punches. Josemaria became a priest and Manolo a spy. But in spite of Manolo's animosity, Josemaria tried his best to keep their friendship. He would write him at least once a year until his death, although Manolo never replied. When Manolo's father died, Josemaria came to console him. Although Manolo gave him a cold shoulder, he kept his hope by giving him a Rosary. Watch out what happens with that Rosary!

Spirit of poverty. Both Josemaria and Manolo had rich families. But the business of Josemaria's dad went bankrupt. Because of that, Manolo's dad told him to keep away from Josemaria. The apparent poverty in the Escriva family only made Josemaria get closer to his dad, while Manolo's dad did not seem to find time for him. Josemaria's parents taught him not to base his happiness on material things but to place his heart on God, who is the source of true happiness. He brought this spirit with him when he founded Opus Dei and taught those who followed him the joy of being poor with his example. The short scene showing Josemaria looking for a pair of shoes while an old woman was eyeing a hat was particularly moving and telling of this spirit.

Strength of faith in God to pursue a mission. It was rather striking how an agnostic like Roland Joffe captured the faith of Josemaria. He said that he actually turned down the offer to do this movie until he chanced upon a DVD showing the real Josemaria talking to a young Jewish lady wanting to convert to Christianity. He advised her to be obedient to her parents and confessed to her that his first love is a Jew, Jesus, and his second is a Jewess, Mary. The open-minded, charitable and amiable character of Josemaria, which was rather different from the way he was being portrayed by some people, captured him and perhaps we could say, changed him. He began to research more about his life and wrote the script himself. He did a great job of capturing the faith of Josemaria which the saint himself described to be so thick that you can cut it with a knife. Josemaria believed that faith is a gift from God, and that could have given him all the strength he needed to pursue his mission in spite of the war, and the apparent opposition from "good people" who thought he was crazy founding Opus Dei.

Miracle of forgiveness. It is amusing how forgiving another person can be truly liberating. Try to follow how this "miracle of forgiveness" ensued between the lives of Manolo and his son, Roberto.

Towards the end of the film, I noticed that some of the people around me were moved to tears. Obviously, they were touched be the scenes in the movie. I felt inspired too, that’s why I decided to write about the movie in this blog.

Hopefully you guys can catch it too! Best if you can bring your friends and family. If your intention is to watch something entertaining and educational, I think this is a perfect movie to watch. At the same time, it can be your apostolate work to bring a friend to watch and hopefully be ‘inspired’ or ‘converted’. You don’t have to be all preachy. Let the movie do the talking.


It will be showing in six cinemas in Metro Manila from November 9 to 15: Trinoma, SM North, SM Megamall, Greenbelt 4, SM South Mall and South Festival Mall. Try liking their Facebook fan page here to be updated on its provincial release.

See you at the cinemas!