Sunday, September 18, 2011

Of Saints & Sinners: There Be Dragons

"In a child's heart, many seeds; who knows which will bloom"

With strong shades of The Kite Runner, Writer-producer-director Roland Joffe (The Mission) delves into the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s to produce a stirring missive on faith, betrayal, shame, forgiveness and redemption.

The story actually starts in the 1980s, with a writer trying to piece together the strands of myth concerning a Catholic priest who braved both the Fascists and the Communists in doing good and ministering to the locals, the movie's main sub-plot.

The priest, we learn, is the childhood friend of a Fascist who has infiltrated the ranks of the Communists, seeking to avenge the death of his industrialist father. On the way he also falls in love with the paramour of the Communist leader.

Their adult paths scarcely cross and Joffe weaves a comp,ex yet compelling tapestry as the son slowly uncovers the sins of the father. In a film world where war scenes have overblown, technologically dictated snoozefests, the conflicts here retain the full measure of immediacy and urgency. The film's religious thread, while strong, never overwhelms, and the characters always come off as flesh and blood human beings rather than one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs.

Oscar Wilde is quoted in the movie ad saying "every saint has a past;every sinner a future." the two types meet, meld and transform each other in this slept-on gem of a movie.

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