Most movie goers likely haven’t heard of the Cristero War, the Mexican uprising against draconian government measures designed to stamp out Catholicism during the 1920s.
Pablo Jose Barroso, producer of “For Greater Glory,” can relate. The Mexico native knew very little about this horrific chapter in his country’s history before embarking on the film’s production.
Barroso’s film stars Andy Garcia as a faith-challenged general leading a holy rebellion against the Mexican government. The movie pulls few punches, including harrowing visuals of priests hanging from telephone poles and a heroic pre-teen suffering at the hands of government thugs.
The reality was far “worse than what we portrayed,” Barraso tells Big Hollywood of a story he says has been “written out of the history books.”
One critical scene in “Glory” involves a character being killed in gruesome but quick fashion. In reality, Barroso says the actual person was stabbed 14 times and his jaw was shattered to prevent him from praising the Cristero movement in his final breaths.
“For Greater Glory” arrives in theaters just as a series of lawsuits against the Obama administration’s alleged assault on religious freedom hit the courts. Barroso dubs the timing “amazing,” and says it’s a key reason why films like “Glory” matter.
“It’s amazing that we keep doing the same mistake over and over,” he says.
The producer doesn’t think we’ll see a scenario as drastic as the one retold in “Glory,” but the lessons built into the film don’t necessarily tie only to one particular faith.
“It’s not only the Catholic Church … it’s everyone that has a conscience and has the ability to choose who they worship and also what they do or don’t do,” he says.
Barroso and his team had to dig deep to unearth information about the Cristero War, but when they tried interviewing relatives of the key figures from the era they found people were hesitant to retell these stories – at first.
The producer also had help from Garcia, who dove into the material and did his own research to help the project.
“The main thing was, he was so moved about the story,” Barroso says, adding Garcia even lent his advice to first-time director Dean Wright.
“For Greater Glory” is told in English despite the Mexican setting, but Barroso says the decision came down to making sure as many people didn’t miss the chance to learn an important chapter in modern history.
“English is the language for all the movies … any other way wouldn’t be wise,” he says. “If we want to really show this part of history to the world, it needs to be what it is.”