Holly wood has managed to make a movie where:
1. There is violence but it is not gratuitous or overdone with gory effects.
2. There is no side "love interest" story, except the strong love a man has for his wife and family.
3. Women are treated respectfully and maturely, without tight clothing or sexual innuendos.
4. And . . . holy cow . . . the Catholic Church is portrayed as the good guys.
I know! Who would have expected?!
This movie - with Andy Garcia in the main role - depicts the war against the Catholic Church by Mexican Presidente Calles (played evilly by Ruben Blades) and the armed rebellion, the Cristeros, that rose up when the government attempted to first regulate, and then outlaw, the practice of the Faith.
The performance by young Mauricio Kuri as Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio was superb - look for him in future movies. Not to spoil anything, but if you thought Jim Caviezel gave a helluva performance as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ when Jesus carried His Cross along the Via Dolorosa, you will marvel at Kuri's final scene. Wow.
Lovely, broad Western scenes, lush score - this is an old-time movie and well worth the time to see it.
Which I did last night at a special viewing. The Diocese of Knoxville arranged with a local art theater and bought up all the tickets for the 7:00 pm showing. Anyone could have a ticket (a donation towards the cost was requested, but not required) and so what we had was a theater packed with all Catholics, including the row behind me which was filled with the Sisters of Mercy and the Dominican sisters, including Sr. Mary Elizabeth Ann, the principal of my son's school, St. Joseph. And His Excellency - during the previews, those sitting near Bishop Stika, we were cracking up at his comments. At several times during the movie, as when Garcia's character was speaking about freedom, there were vocal "Amen!"'s. And at the end of the movie, a woman in the back yelled out the Cristeros' motto - Vive Cristo Rey (Long live Christ the King)! - which caused everyone to whoop and applaud.
At the end of the viewing, Bishop Stika stood at the exit to the theater, greeting and thanking all who came (did I mention he was a real mensch?). My husband remarked, "He's a good leader - he's getting his troops ready in case things get bad." You know, we Catholics are the minority here in Knoxville - only 2.5% of the Christian population - but I have found that many tend to hold their Catholic faith more seriously, being as many are converts from the Baptist and Methodist faith. Add to that strong leadership at the Diocese, and you can see how occasions as last night - reserving a movie theater for the faithful - come about.
Vive Cristo Rey!