Faith, Media & Culture

Faith, Media & Culture


“There Be Dragons” and the true story of Opus Dei; Plus “Sing to Your Baby and headlines starring Michael Moore, Steven Tyler and Norma McCorvey

posted by John W. Kennedy

Movie Review:  There Be Dragons tells a riveting story of the Catholic Church literally under fire.
Synopsis: A journalist working on a biography of  the late Spanish priest (and Opus Dei founder) Josemaría Escrivá as he is considered canonization discovers a disconcerting story involving his own father. In a fictionalized saga revealed to the audience through flashback, he learns that his estranged dying father knew Escrivá as a young man — and of the strikingly different paths their lives took during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s.  Their diverging and, ironically, converging journeys serve both to tell a story of a Catholic Church literally under fire and as a parable on the healing power of forgiveness.

This excellent movie, especially when considered alongside the recent Of Gods and Men, suggests that films offering positive views of religious faith (and even the Catholic Church) are making a bit of a comeback in the movie industry.  If nothing else, There Be Dragons serves up a far less sinister view of Opus Dei (Latin for “Work of God”) than, say, The Da Vinci Code.  I can tell you that the English-language movie is masterfully written and directed by Roland Joffé and features strong performances all around, particularly by Charlie Cox (as the real-life Escrivá) and Wes Bentley (as his fictional friend/antagonist Manolo).

As for the film’s accuracy, I decided to seek the perspective of Brian Finnerty, the U.S. media relations director for Opus Dei.  Like me, he liked the movie but, unlike me, he brought a wealth of knowledge and understanding about its subject to the viewing of it.

To Finnerty the movie is “a wonderful reminder that the Church is blessed with many good and holy priests.” He is particularly pleased at the timing of its release — less than a week after the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

He notes that writer/director Joffé (who he has not met) describes himself as “a wobbly agnostic” but has created a film that depicts the Catholic faith in a positive light and finds something deeply attractive in the personal struggle of  a saint.

Finnerty says that, while Joffé is quoted as saying that he doesn’t view his movie as a Catholic answer to The Da Vinci Code, he (Finnerty) would encourage anyone who has read that book or seen Ron Howard’s movie adaptation of it to see There Be Dragons which he describes as “an artistic representation that is very well grounded in truth.”
View the film’s trailer here.
Here’s a profile of  Josemaría Escrivá produced by Opus Dei.

People in the News

Michael Moore claims U.S. “executed” Osama Bin Laden. The controversial documentarian says “I am a Catholic, and the position of the Catholic Church and the Pope is that we are 100 percent against the death penalty unless it is in self-defense. Look at the Nuremberg Trials. We didn’t just pop a bullet in the heads of the worst scum in history. We thought it was important to put them on trial and expose their evil. In a democracy we believe in a system of justice and we believe in a judicial system that gives people a day in court…and then we hung them.”

Steven Tyler on the trauma of abortion. The American Idol judge and Aerosmith legend is out with a new memoir called Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? LifeNews.com, meanwhile, is recalling an earlier book co-authored by the rock star in which he movingly recounted the trauma of aborting his child. Here’s the quote cited: “It was a big crisis. It’s a major thing when you’re growing something with a woman, but they convinced us that it would never work out and would ruin our lives. … You go to the doctor and they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch. And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated. In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done?”

Norma McCorvey makes her acting debut. The Roe of Roe v. Wade plaintiff, now a pro-life activist, will play a pivotal role in director Peter Mackenzie’s psychological thriller thriller Doonby. The movie, starring John Schneider, is said to have a pro-life subplot.

Here’s the trailer:

Finally…

From the Positive Media File: Sing to Your Baby on Mother’s Day. Grammy-winning musicians Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer are out with a 32-page book (with illustrations by James Nocito) and audio CD aimed at encouraging moms (and dads) to sing to their babies.  Featuring eleven new songs and something called “sing-plays,” it offers a different take on traditional lullabies in that, rather than seeking merely to lull an infant into sleep, it’s designed as a sort of coach to help parents strengthen their bond and communication with their children through music.

The new songs include titles such as “Love Is What I Feel You For,” “Little Bitty Boat,” “Baby’s Got a Giggle,” “Pretty Little Baby,” and “Rockin’ My Baby.” The package also contains a parent guide written by psychologist and educator Laura G. Brown that includes valuable tips for how to develop a baby’s learning skills and foster developmental transitions.

Cathy and Marcy, who have created live and recorded family-nurturing music for over 25 years, say using songs to build family bonds and open up communication between parents and babies has become a rewarding mission for them.

Check out their website here.  I’m told that, as of this writing, there’s still time to order Sing to Your Baby on Amazon.com delivered by Sunday. I assure you, I get nothing out of this — but it might make a unique Mother’s Day gift.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11No blog tomorrow. See you Monday.



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