Wow.... I would most definitely not recommend watching this very powerful film right before bed. You won't sleep because "Vive Cristo Rey!!" will be ringing in your head.
For Greater Glory tells the story of the Mexican Cristeros War (1926-1929). I never even knew this particular conflict had happened until I first watched the trailer for this film late last year. This war was essentially the Mexican Catholics fighting to keep their religious freedom (and thereby other freedoms) against a tryannical and godless Federal government.
The film follows several different characters and groups of people, their stories all interconnected and weaving together to form a greater tapestry. There are really two main characters: Jose and General Enrique Gorostieta.
Jose, who starts the film out playing a practical joke on the local padre, becomes, even at his young age, an inspiration not only to General Gorostieta, but to many others who know him. One remarks (and this is proven to the full): "He is braver than most men." Jose's mantra is indeed, "Vive Cristo Rey!!"
Strangely enough for a man leading a fight for religious freedom is a man who is not religious (in the sense of being Christian)--a man whom even his wife calls an atheist--General Enrique Gorostieta. For all that, he knows the "talk" well (partly due to his wife's dedication) and he does not discourage the faith of his men. He rather encourages them in it, as evidenced by this line (it has to be one of my favorite lines of the movie): "You have to remember that men will fire bullets, but God will decide where they land! Vive Cristo Rey!"
General Gorostieta struggles with the notion of faith, God, and though it is not mentioned in such a way, providence. Speaking of which, the theology of this film, both spoken and implied, is fairly orthodox. There were of course, "Catholisms", but there really weren't any "bad theology!" red flags that lept out at me.
Among the other characters are the priest-general Father Vega, General Victoriano 'El Catorce' Ramirez, the men and women of the League for Religious Freedom (I believe that's right), Jose's family, and even an American ambassador.
This was the the first time I ever knowingly sat down to watch an R rated film. Before purchasing this movie, I was reading someplace about it and the gentleman remarked that he thought it had gotten an R rating because of it's protrayal of faith, freedom, and the willingness to die for it than for the actual violence.
In my opinion, the horror and violence of the time was dealt with very well--it was disturbing, but not overly gory or graphic. In fact, I think the fact that is was not overly graphic made it more potent. One gets the sense of horror, terror, and heartbreak without having to actually stare at it.
There were no really inappropriate scenes--the closest one might get is the brief shot of the ladies in their underclothing (more than what most women wear to the beach these days), putting strips of cloth with bullets in them around their middles.
There was really no language to speak of either...there is only one instance that I can remember--and of all people it was Father Vega!
This is a film that calls up many emotions--it is filled with courage, loyality, betrayal, love, hate, forgiveness, cruelty, heartbreak, pride, faith, self-sacrifice, and overarching all, a love of God and a willingness to fight and die for His name and the freedom to worship him without fear.
There is but one more thing that I want to say (and hopefully it is not really a spoiler--so beware, just in case): The ending of the film is not what we would call a "happy" ending. It is hopeful however, which is about the only reason one can finish film without feeling cheated. In retrospect, if it had had a happy ending, it would not have been so powerful. (It was, as far as I can tell, sticking pretty close to the actual history--so perhaps that is why.)
P.S. I most certianly do not recommend this for small children's viewing....
A Reformed Presbyterian girl who enjoys a good movie or a good book any ol' time.
Note: All images picked up online. No copyright infringment intended.