There Be Dragons is a historical epic written and directed by Roland Joffé, a British filmmaker well known for directing The Mission, The Killing Fields and Captivity. It is a drama set during the Spanish Civil War which features themes such as betrayal, love and hatred, forgiveness, friendship, and finding meaning in everyday life. The film was released on 6 May 2011. It includes the story of soldiers, a journalist, his father, and a real life priest, Josemaría Escrivá, later canonized as a recent Roman Catholic saint, the founder of Opus Dei.
The movie stars Charlie Cox (Stardust and Casanova), Wes Bentley (American Beauty and Ghost Rider), Rodrigo Santoro (300 and I Love You Phillip Morris), Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius and Little Dorrit), Geraldine Chaplin (Talk to her), Golshifteh Farahani (Body of Lies and Darbareye Elly), Dougray Scott (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Desperate Housewives), Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace and Max Payne), Unax Ugalde (Che Part 1: The Argentine and Bon Appétit) and Lily Cole (Rage and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus).
Director Roland Joffé said There Be Dragons is "a story about people trying to find meaning about their lives." The epic film tells the story of a Spanish journalist, Robert, who is mending relations with his dying father, Manolo, who took part in the Spanish Civil War. The journalist discovers through his investigations that his father was a close childhood friend of Josemaría Escrivá, a candidate for sainthood, with whom he had a complicated relationship. Manolo became a soldier during the Spanish Civil War and became obsessed with a beautiful Hungarian revolutionary, Ildiko. She rejects him and gives herself to a brave militia leader Oriol. Manolo becomes jealous and takes a path of betrayal.
The film includes the early life of Josemaría Escrivá, a modern-day saint and the founder of Opus Dei, an institution of the Catholic Church which teaches that ordinary human life is a path to sanctity. Escrivá, who died in 1975, was canonized by John Paul II in 2002. Joffé, who initially shied away from the project, was "ultimately intrigued by the chance to dramatize the life of a modern-day saint, particularly considering Escrivá's 'liberating' view that a path to God could be found in an ordinary life."
There Be Dragons is a drama which explores themes such as betrayal, forgiveness, friendship, and finding the meaning of life in everyday life. According to Joffé, they are "making a film about love, human love and divine love, about hate, about betrayal, about war, about mistakes, about everything it is to be a human being." The theme of forgiveness, says Charlie Cox, who plays St. Josemaria, is "always going to be a key when you're talking about Christianity at all, especially if you’re talking about a man who is canonized." Josemaria, Cox adds, "understood that the reason one must forgive is because that hatred and that anger and that resentment lives in you."
Joffé, a self described "wobbly agnostic" who was nominated for the Academy Award for his film The Mission which deals with a Jesuit mission in South America, said that he is "very interested in the idea of embarking on a piece of work that took religion seriously on its own terms and didn't play a game where one approached religion denying its validity."
"Reconciliation matters" is the main take away message that Joffe expects from the viewers. Life, he said, is an opportunity to love: "It's a choice, and in making that decision you become free. You do not become free when you hate. The weird thing is when you really love, you feel it like a breath of freedom, you think ‘Oh my God, I’ve chosen this, and it’s beautiful’.” He emphasized that Christianity is about love and the teaching of St. Josemaria "encourages a spiritual relationship with God in 'very simple things', in cooking a meal, being with one’s family, or even having a fight." Joffé states that this is "a film about what it means to be a saint in this day and age."
The title refers to its theme exploring the unknown territories of hatred, guilt, and forgiveness, said the producer Ignacio G. Sancha. "There be dragons" is a shorter version of the phrase "here there be dragons" from the Latin hic sunt dracones, an ancient way of denoting in maps a place where there is danger, or an unknown place, a place to be explored.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlie Cox ... Josemaria
Wes Bentley ... Manolo
Dougray Scott ... Robert
Unax Ugalde ... Pedro
Olga Kurylenko ... Ildiko
Pablo Lapadula ... Isidoro
Golshifteh Farahani ... Leila
Rusty Lemorande ... Father Lazaro
Ana Torrent ... Dolores
Alfonso Bassave ... Jiménez
Jordi Mollà ... José
Rodrigo Santoro ... Oriol
Geraldine Chaplin ... Abileyza
Alejandro Casaseca ... Jaime
Yaiza Guimaré ... Pilar
Directed by Roland Joffé
Produced by Roland Joffé
Ignacio G. Sancha
Guy J. Louthan
Written by Roland Joffé