A movie based on the life of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei, has begun filming in Argentina under the direction of Roland Joffe, director of "The Mission" and "The Killing Fields."
The film "There Be Dragons" is a film set during the brutal Spanish Civil War in the second half of the 1930s, Catholic San Francisco reports. It is expected to be released in summer or fall 2010 and has a budget of about $30 million.
Joffe also wrote the screenplay for the film. He told an August 23 press conference that he has creative freedom over the project and had earlier rejected an offer to film an Opus Dei-provided script.
Discussing St. Josemaria, he noted that the priest "made no attempt to influence the people he worked with in terms of their politics."
"At that time, that’s pretty heroic. That’s a time when almost all human beings were faced with making extraordinary choices."
Joffe told the press conference that filmmakers found themselves making a film about love, both human love and divine love, and also about hate, betrayal and mistakes.
"I don’t know if there’s anybody who wants to live his life without meaning. So it’s also a story about people trying to find meaning about their lives, and that’s a powerful kind of story," he added, Catholic San Francisco reports.
The director said that fiction is "a way of understanding the truth" and acknowledged that he took "certain liberties" if the changes could communicate the personal issues of the time.
He said he was taken with St. Josemaria’s idea that a way to God is found through everyday life.
Alluding to the controversy over Opus Dei, a Catholic prelature which was negatively portrayed in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, Joffe said he has been to many Opus Dei centers and has met many members in his research. He has yet to counter "anything odd-seeming," he reported.
Fr. John Wauk, an Opus Dei priest and professor of literature and communication of the faith at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, was asked by Joffe to serve as an advisor on the film.
Joffe said Fr. Wauk explained what he knew about St. Josemaria and what it means to be a priest, for which the director was grateful.
"There Be Dragons" features actor Charlie Cox in the role of St. Josemaria Escriva. Cox previously worked on "Stardust" and "Casanova." Wes Bentley plays Manolo, a friend of the priest.
Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko plays Ildiko, a Hungarian woman who sides with the Republican movement defeated by the rightist coalition lead by Gen. Francisco Franco.