The cast includes Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Peter O'Toole (in a cameo role as a murdered priest, the octogenarian is splendid), Ruben Blades and Mexican star Eduardo Verastegui. This is serious stuff.
The movie depicts the Mexican Cristero uprising against the military dictatorship of President Plutarco Calles between 1926 and 1929. Calles was an ardent anti-Catholic in a nation dominated by Catholics. At his command, Catholic churches were ordered shuttered, and Mass was outlawed. Many priests were murdered.
The most famous moment in the struggle, not depicted in the film, was the martyrdom of Padre Miguel Pro. Calles ordered a firing squad to shoot him in 1927, with the heart-wrenching final moments (Pro kneeling in prayer and then standing, his arms extended in the sign of the cross as bullets shattered him, and then shot point-blank when the fusillade didn't kill him) photographed by order of the "presidente." Padre Pro was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988.
I was shown the early trailers because of the family connection. My grandfather Will Buckley Sr. was a strong supporter of the Cristeros'. A devout Catholic with business interests in Mexico and an ardent love of that country -- so much so that he planned to move his family there -- Buckley provided materiel aid to the impoverished peasants. Some things we know to be true. He was targeted for assassination; his oil leases were expropriated by the government; he was expelled. Others are in question: that there was an actual attempt to kill him (another version has it that the assassins turned and offered him assistance should he want someone capped); that a train he hired to smuggle in arms from El Paso (maybe) became lost, wandered about at night and ultimately found its way back to El Paso and the weapons were confiscated; and that his heirs also were banished -- but don't tell my cousin who has been practicing law there for decades.
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