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Movie Review

There Be Dragons

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and combat sequences, some language and thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Biography Drama
2 hr.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
May 6, 2011 (wide—258 theaters)
DVD: January 10, 2012
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films

Spanish Civil War

controversial Opus Dei founder, Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer

Roman Catholic sainthood, saints

saints in the Bible

justice in the Bible

justice of God

Just One

life of faith

power of forgiveness

forgiveness of sin




dark family secrets

world’s injustice



woman’s search for love and meaning

Featuring: Charlie Cox … Josemaria—‘Stardust
Wes Bentley … Manolo—“American Beauty
Dougray ScottRobert—‘Mission Impossible 2
Geraldine ChaplinAbileyza
Unax Ugalde … Pedro
Olga KurylenkoIldiko—‘Quantum of Solace
more »
Director: Roland Joffé—“The Killing Fields,” “The Mission
Producer: Antena 3 Films
Mount Santa Fe
more »
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films

“Even saints have a past.”

This is the story of two very different men, Josemaria and Manolo, living through one of the worst wars ever encountered in history, the Spanish Civil War. Watch as the film follows these two lives in a tale that answers the question, “Does God still listen?”

For the second time in my history as a reviewer for this Web site, I was so impressed with a film that it left me speechless. I cannot describe all the heart pounding emotions I felt. This movie literally and figuratively took my breath away. At one point, I forgot that this film is based on true events, I was so involved. The performances by all the characters are phenomenal. The music is perfect. The camera work is well done. I commend director Joffé for his excellent artistic design.

Objectionable material

Violence: Moderate to Heavy. There are several scenes of war violence; people are seen being shot and killed. There is also a scene where a child (in school) is disciplined with a whip. There is a very brief fight in a seminary courtyard between two characters. A church is set on fire and various objects are destroyed. There is a scene of rioting and the breaking of glass windows. There are a couple scenes where explosions occur, as well as one where bodies are seen hanging from a piece of wood.

Profanity: Moderate. I counted two instances where God’s name is taken in vain, Jesus’ name is taken in vain once, five instances of d**n and d**nit, one of sh*t, two a**, h*ll (2), and b*strd (2). Other vulgarities include the terms “balls,” “give yourself to others” and “pr*ck.”

Sex/Nudity: Mild. There are two scenes where it has been implied that people have slept with each other. There is also a scene of childbirth.

Other: There is a scene where a mother is heard screaming over the death of her baby. Two characters are seen dying. A couple characters are seen smoking. Lastly, there is a scene where the viewer can see cuts on a young girl’s wrists.

Despite the moderate to heavy amounts of objectionable material, there are many positive, redeeming elements in this film. One of the themes that stands out is forgiveness. Forgiveness is not an easy concept for some to grasp. There are many Biblical passages that show God forgives us of our sins when we truly repent of them and humbly seek His forgiveness. Acts 13:38 states,

“Therefore my friends I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you” (NIV).

And again, in Matthew 26:28, Jesus stated the following at the Last Supper.

“This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (NIV).

I can happily recommend this film to Christian adults and teens, to which it is geared toward. I do, however, stress caution, as this movie contains a goodly amount of violence, profanity, and a mild amount of sex/nudity. Again, I commend Mr. Joffé in his direction of this film and hope to see more films from him in the future.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This movie based on the life of St. Josemaria Escriva is portrayed from a respectful and prayerful spirit, unlike some other movies that may be about holy things but come from a secular, twisted worldview (Da Vinci Code). About half of the movie is about Josemaria and half is an anti-parallel in the life of his friend who chose to reject God.

This friend, though a fictional character, is devised from the lives of several people Josemaria actually knew. Several other liberties are taken in straying from the actual story of Josemaria’s life, but they are not detrimental to the meaning of the story. I would not recommend bringing children to the theater, but it is definitely a thought-provoking story meant to inspire holiness in one’s daily life and struggles.

It is a great film. There is obviously fighting since it is set in a war time, and there are several scenes depicting blood and fatal wounds. A priest is shot in the street. There are a couple of swear words and a reference to “balls.” There is an implied extramarital relationship resulting in a pregnancy.

***SPOILER:*** Josemaria’s friend shoots the woman he loves in the head, because this is what she wants. This is portrayed three times in different ways.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Grace, age 18 (USA)
Positive—This movie was very good. There is very little cursing… and the special effects were very good. The acting was, also, top notch. I brought my family along, which consists of teen age girls, and they, too, loved the movie. There was nothing morally offensive. The movie was able to tell the story without showing too much. I give it 2 thumbs up. I am a conservative Christian and highly recommend this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Joseph, age 41 (USA)
Positive— I LOVED this film!! It has to been the cleanest Hollywood movie I have ever seen! (2nd to “The Passion of the Christ”). There are no dragons, though there are spiritual dragons of evil. The true story of Catholic Josemaria Escriva chooses the life of peace and forgiveness. His ex-best friend Manolo, chooses the life of jealousy, hatred, and revenge.

With the help of his friends, Josemaria disguises himself to serve Mass to others (even though he rather dress as a priest, but his life and family’s life depend on it) to escape the Communist hatred of destroying the churches and killing people who serve God. During parts of the film, we see a couple who are in the 1970s.

Robert, the adopted son of Manolo takes his girlfriend and himself to see Manolo in the hospital who’s dying. After knowing the truth of his dead biological father and mother’s death, Robert finds it hard to forgive Manolo. After spending the night in the hospital, he and his girlfriend see a light in Manolo’s room——it is little Josemaria and forgives Manolo for his sins (note; Robert does not see Josemaria).

Robert forgives his father and writes the story of Manolo’s and Josemaria’s life. This movie was perfectly directed by a jewish man named “Roland Joffé.” And the acting was very well and the action was superb! I wish I could write more about the story, but you have got to see this movie for yourself!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Anna, age 19 (USA)
Positive—I was humbled by this film. I have to say this had to be the cleanest movie I have seen in the 21st century! It was perfectly written, acted, directed, and the action scenes were awesome! The budget for this film was not stingy, and I hope people watch the film. There were a lot of good morals, several funny parts, and guidance.

The only misguidance in here showed a guy in bed with his girlfriend a couple times. There was no nudity shown, and they were clothed.

This film also shows forgiveness in the hardest states. I wish I brought more people to see this film, because after seeing this with my family I wanted more people to hear about this to give it more rating (since it’s not very popular). I highly approve of this film. Though I wouldn’t think young children should watch it, because of the violence and action.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Emma, age 21 (USA)
Positive—This was a pretty good movie. I’m glad it wasn’t too depressing. I really enjoyed the parts about Josemarias, and almost wish the whole thing could have been about him! But the other characters weren’t bad either.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)


Comments from young people
Positive—This movie is way better than it looks. I was humbled at how much I liked this film, because I was trying to find a way out of watching it, because I wanted to watch a different movie in theaters. But my dad told me it would be good, so I did. I liked this movie a lot! The action was good, the plot was great, it sent a great message about forgiveness, and it wasn’t cheaply made, the quality was fine. I would recommend this film to anyone (except for children, because of the violence). You won’t regret seeing this film if you do.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jessica, age 17 (USA)
Positive—Awesome! This is the most entertaining religious movie ever! The plot was strong, intriguing, and a true story. The morals were excellent. Very rarely do I find a good action movie that doesn’t make Christians bad. There are probably two cuss words, at the most. There aren’t any sex scenes, and to my relief, no one took the Lord’s name in vain. The movie shows a man who made bad decisions, but through it all, kept his rosary that his friend (Josamaria) gave him. I won’t tell you everything about the movie, but I’ll tell you that it’s a great movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Reggie, age 16 (USA)