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Cristiada - Film About an Unknown War Box Office Smash in Mexico

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/19/2012 (5 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Very few people in or outside of Mexico know about the Cristero War

"This is an international story for the world," said Academy Award® nominee Andy Garcia, who headlines an international cast in FOR GREATER GLORY. "It's a story that needs to be told." Garcia plays General Gorostieta, the retired military man who transformed a roughshod group of Mexican Catholics into a formidable adversary in their fight against the Mexican government's attempts to eliminate the Catholic Church. The Cristero War of the 1920s rocked North America and resulted in thousands of Catholics - including priests - being martyred.
 

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
5/19/2012 (5 years ago)

Published in Movies

Keywords: For Greater Glory, Mauricio Kuri, Andy Garcia, Peter O'Toole, Cristero, Cristeros, Cristiada


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Mexico recently was given a visual depiction of an uprising in their nation that few have ever talked about in recent memory - Cristiada, or the Cristero War. The film, "For Greater Glory," depicts this dark time in the country and has been met with an overwhelming response at the box office.

The Maximus Group reports that the epic movie FOR GREATER GLORY opened in Mexico April 20 with the title of CRISTIADA and raced to the No. 1 spot in gross for all admissions at the box office - and No. 2 overall behind only the 3D release of another epic film, Titanic. CRISTIADA took in $1.06 million over opening.
 
The film held on to the No. 2 spot April 27-29, bested only by the blockbuster superhero film The Avengers, and has taken in more than $2.2 million at the box office. FOR GREATER GLORY opens June 1 in the U.S.

For those who know little about this war, a studio briefing provided the following information:

"The powder keg was lit in 1926, when newly elected President Plutarco Calles, who felt the Catholic Church was too powerful in Mexican society, intensified a growing crackdown on religious practices in Mexico.  In June of 1926, President Calles signed the fateful "Law for Reforming the Penal Code," aka "Calles' Law," which severely restricted religious freedom.  Priests and nuns, who were already denied the right to vote, could now be heavily fined simply for wearing church attire; and they could go to jail merely for exercising their right to free speech or for criticizing the government in any way.
 
"Calles made it clear that he intended to aggressively enforce the new laws and he began a program of seizing church properties, exiling clergy and closing convents and religious schools across the nation.  Suddenly, priests were on the run and citizens were left without church services in their communities.
 
"At first, Catholic groups attempted to fight the brutal restrictions through peaceful means.  There were economic boycotts and behind-the-scenes negotiations, but all proved fruitless.  In August of 1926, 400 armed rebels shut themselves up in a church in Guadalupe and engaged in a deadly firefight with federal troops, surrendering only when they ran out of ammunition.  When Guadalupe's parish priest died in the melee, the sacrifice enraged many and drove more young men and women to join the highly motivated resistance.
 
"By 1927, the country had fallen into a fulminating civil war.  The rebels, many of them farmers, artisans and students, had meager resources of ammunition and food, while the government forces were heavily armed and well supplied.  Many thought the uprising would be easily and overwhelmingly suppressed by federal troops, but as several homegrown leaders emerged from the countryside including Victoriano "Catorce" Ramirez and Father Vega, they repeatedly stunned the government with successful raids and savvy tactics.  The battle raged on and atrocities mounted on both sides, with numerous civilian deaths.
 
"Several months into the battle, the rebels realized they needed a more targeted strategy.  Hoping to change their fate, they recruited retired General Enrique Gorostieta - a renowned military mastermind who had become a businessman after leading federal troops in the Mexican Revolution -- to take command of the Cristeros.  They did so despite the fact that Gorostieta was renown as a man of skeptical faith.  Yet Gorostieta quickly became a fervent supporter of religious freedom and inspired new passion in the growing ranks of fighters, even as his guerilla-style tactics began to wear away at the government's stalwart defenses.
 
"In 1928, Calles' term as President came to an end, but the new President, Alvara Obregon, was assassinated just two weeks after taking office - and the war waged on.  By this time, General Gorostieta had unified the disparate rebels into a united and loyal army some 50,000 strong.
 
"The devotion of the Cristeros was fully embodied in 1928, when the 13-year-old volunteer José Luis Sanchez was captured and killed for refusing to renounce his faith.  (Later, José would be beatified by the Pope; another 25 Cristero fighters were canonized.)
 
"On June 2nd, 1929, General Gorostieta made the ultimate sacrifice in a Jalisco firefight, but by that time the tide of the war was rapidly beginning to turn."

"This is an international story for the world," said Academy Award® nominee Andy Garcia, who headlines an international cast in FOR GREATER GLORY. "It's a story that needs to be told." Garcia plays General Gorostieta, the retired military man who transformed a roughshod group of Mexican Catholics into a formidable adversary in their fight against the Mexican government's attempts to eliminate the Catholic Church. The Cristero War of the 1920s rocked North America and resulted in thousands of Catholics - including priests - being martyred.
 
FOR GREATER GLORY also stars Golden Globe winner Eva Longoria, Oscar® winner Peter O'Toole, Eduardo Verástegui, and Mauricio Kuri as Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio.

The film opens in U.S. theaters on June 1.

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