Founder of Catholic Opus Dei group focus of movie

Wed Nov 4, 2009 4:27pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - If Opus Dei had a rough ride in the blockbuster movie based on Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code," it looks set for an altogether more sympathetic portrayal in another film that deals with the Catholic organization.

British director Roland Joffe, renowned for Oscar-nominated "The Killing Fields" and "The Mission," is making "There Be Dragons," a film set during the Spanish Civil War that focuses in part on the life of Opus Dei founder Jose Maria Escriva.

Principal photography is complete, and Joffe is now in the editing room aiming to have the movie, which stars Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, ready for theatres by autumn next year.

Joffe originally intended to turn down a project which, owing to its religious theme and Opus Dei's controversial profile, promises to draw closer scrutiny than the average film.

In The Da Vinci Code, Opus Dei was cast as a secretive cult that resorted to murder to defend a fictional, 2,000-year-old Catholic cover-up. It has also been criticized by church liberals suspicious of its power and reach and by estranged members telling of coercion and corporal mortification.

But when he saw a video of Escriva addressing a large crowd, Joffe changed his mind.

The priest, who was made a saint in 2002, was asked by a Jewish girl if she should convert to Catholicism. Knowing it would upset her parents, Escriva told her that she should not.

"One of the things that impressed me a lot about Jose Maria was the fact that he saw that saintliness didn't require that you withdraw into a religious order, it didn't require that you become a priest," Joffe said on a recent conference call.   Continued...

<p>The H1N1 flu virus (red) in an image courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. REUTERS/Handout</p>