Medieval maps; unknown territories marked with the signage “hic sunt dracones”, “here there be dragons”.
Watching this finely filmed, but perpetually flirting with the melodramatic movie; deciphering the priorities of the plethora of themes: the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), the making of a modern saint, the egregious crimes of a sinner, and the ubiquitous, droning, love and betrayal issues kept an audience vacillating between the real and the fictional.
Written and directed by Roland Joffe (“The Killing Fields”, “The Mission”) the scenario focuses on two boyhood friends whose paths take divergent routes, mountains apart. Charlie Cox as “Josemaria Escriva” gives a sensitive, genuine, depiction of a young priest on the road to sainthood. Wes Bently as macho “Manolo” simmers sensuously as the turbulent, troubled spoiled friend on the road to perdition.
The crux of the film revolves around the military revolt against the Republican government in Spain and the atrocities inflicted on the clergy, primarily the Catholic Church by both the nationalists (Franco) and republicans; 500,000 thousand people died during this civil pillage which pitted brother against brother, families bifurcated by ideologies. 7,000 bishops, priests, ministers, nuns were murdered, slaughtered because of their power and dominance over the minds, souls of their followers. The plight of Josemaria, the torturous choices he is forced to make, contribute to the essence, legitimacy of “There Be Dragons”.
In 2002 father Josemaria Escriva (1902-1975) was canonized, beatified by the Catholic Church; joining the elite realm of sainthood. The first saints were all martyrs, (St. Francis of Assisi, St. Valentine, St. Stephens, St. Kerkyra ) killed because of their beliefs, sainthood a simple solution, reward for their devotion. In present day, the requirements have adapted to a new world. To achieve sainthood two miracles must be attributed to the individual after their death. Saint Josemaria founder of Opus Dei (finding God in daily life) is credited with the miraculous cures of a cancer -suffering Carmelite nun and Dr. Manuel Nevado Rey. Josemaria was a man who found godliness in living a simple life, discovering divineness in the common man, perpetuating goodness, always forgiving; forgiveness subdues, emancipates, slays the dragons within.