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Film of the Month - October



Films are an important feature of popular culture but can they also be a vehicle for theological enquiry? Veritas thinks they can! Every month during the Year of Faith, we offer a Film of the Month, which we invite you to watch, reflect on and discuss. As an initiative for the Year of Faith, you might like to start a Year of Faith Film Club in your work, school or parish community, where these films can be discussed and shared. Film reviews are kindly provided by Fr John-Paul Sheridan PhD.


Film of the Month for October: There Be Dragons



In early map-making there was always a tradition of marking unknown parts of the world with the words, ‘here be dragons’, signifying places which must harbour strange a fantastical creatures. It signified the unknown in the midst of the known, and it is a perfect title for this month’s film. There Be Dragons is the second film to be featured in the Veritas Film of the Month by the English director and producer Roland Joffé. The Mission (1986) was the first film we studied this time last year. In fact a number of Joffé’s films could be the subject of film study, in particular The Killing Fields (1984), City of Joy (1992) and The Scarlet Letter (1995). For someone who describes himself as ‘a wobbly agnostic’, the religious and moral themes of many of his film would be certainly worth exploring. In an interview regarding this film, he said that he is ‘very interested in the idea of embarking on a piece of work that took religion seriously on its own terms and didn't play a game where one approached religion denying its validity’.




There Be Dragons is set in the recent past, during the Spanish Civil War. It tells the story of two men: the father of the story’s narrator and a Catholic priest, Josemaría Escrivá. Joffé has constructed the film in the mode of a Cain and Abel story, which might seem to be an over simplistic interpretation of both men’s characters: good and virtuous Josemaría and dark and troubled Manolo. The film starred an Anglo-Spanish cast, including Charlie Cox, Wes Bentley, Dougray Scott and Derek Jacobi. The film was also written by Joffé and should not be seen as an authentic biography of Escrivá. 


Initially he was interested in the project but later said that ‘Josemaría’s idea was that you find sanctity; you find your religious experience not only in liturgical things or in the Church, but in the very act of living in your daily life.’ Opus Dei was consulted regarding the film and some members of Opus Dei are listed among the producers, and there is nothing in the film what might cause controversy. The personality of the saint, played by Charlie Cox, comes across as very ordinary but also as a person deeply committed to his path in life and the early work of the emerging apostolate.


For a film synopsis and questions for reflection, please click here.


For the homily of Blessed Pope John Paul II at the beatification of Escrivá, please click here.


For the homily of Blessed Pope John Paul II at the canonisation of Escrivá, please click here.



Previous Films of the Month:

September: Babette’s Feast

August 2013: Mr Holland’s Opus

July 2013: Romero

June 2013: No Greater Love

May 2013: The Way

April 2013: Freedom Writers

March 2013: Of Gods and Men

February 2013: Song of Bernadette

January 2013: Brother Sun, Sister Moon

December 2012: It’s a Wonderful Life!

November 2012: Shadowlands

October 2012: The Mission


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