A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that For Greater Glory, which sheds light on one of the bloodiest moments in Mexican history, doesn't shy away from depicting war-related carnage: Children and the elderly are beaten and shot point blank; countless others are seen with nooses tied around their necks and then hung from ceilings and telegraph lines, with their corpses shown motionless for many scenes. And that's just the beginning. That said, aside from some drinking, there's not much else of note, content-wise -- there's no sex, hardly any swearing, and plenty of acts of heroism. Bottom line? It's an inspiring story, but one that's sometimes hard to stomach.
What's the story?
Between 1926 and 1929, Mexican president Plutarco Calles (Rubén Blades) waged a war against Roman Catholic priests and bishops and their flock, shutting down their churches and sending soldiers to hunt, maim, and kill anyone who dared defy him. Tens of thousands of citizens -- including a young boy named Jose (Mauricio Kuri), who developed a strong faith thanks to a kind-hearted priest (Peter O'Toole) -- banded together to defend their religious freedom in what is now known as the Cristero War. It was a gory and heart-wrenching battle, leaving thousands of Mexicans dead, the countryside littered with their bodies. Leading the charge is a retired army general (Andy Garcia) who confronts his own questions about God as he fights to restore everyone's right to believe.
Is it any good?
Sweeping in its scope and epic in its storytelling, FOR GREATER GLORY makes no apologies for aiming high. It has an important tale to tell, and it will tell it with as much gravity as it can muster. And it's this earnestness that protects the drama from some of its weaknesses -- clunky dialogue, for starters -- and turns it into a shockingly affecting, thought-provoking watch. Bring tissues, because some of the characters, especially Jose, will break your heart.
But while it's understandable that the filmmakers wanted to make clear how brutal this moment in history was, there's an overdose of violence. It's almost enough to cause post-traumatic stress disorder. No one is spared, not the child at the heart of the story, and not viewers, either, who must suffer through one assault after another. Is all the carnage necessary? It's highly debatable. Had they edited some of it out, For Greater Glory would have been a leaner, meaner, and still affecting revelation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the Mexicans defied the government to honor their faith, even when threatened with imprisonment or death. Why do you think they did that? Teens: Have you ever fought hard for something you believed in?
Talk about For Greater Glory's many brutally violent scenes. How does this kind of violence compare to what you might see in a horror movie? Which has greater impact?
Which characters would you consider role models? Why?
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