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20th century El Salvador, like 16th century England, is enduring bloodshed and havoc. Insurgent Communist rebels compete with paramilitary squads and the oligarchy for control of the tiny Central American nation. Priests and the flock they lead are caught in the middle. Those who cry for justice are photographed and marked for extinction because they speak the language of Marxism.
Archbishop Romero recognizes that Marxists and the ruling oligarchy are merely obverse sides of the same coin-- ideologies who rule by force contrary to the the rule of God.
He is equally harsh with Communist sympathizers as he is with the paramilitary squads who rape, torture and execute advocates of justice and human rights.
Like a nail driven into wood, Romero meets each new situation, bewildered at first, but rising to the occasion with increasing faith, anger and determination.
In one scene, he arrives at a church which has been turned into an army barracks. He announces that he has come to remove the Blessed Sacrament. A belligerent soldier responds by unloading a round of bullets into the tabernacle and shatters the crucifix hanging above the altar. Romero stands transfixed, astonished at the utter desecration, then leaves. He pauses outside where a crowd has gathered, unsure as he himself is what he will do next.
Suddenly, collecting his courage, he wheels around. He brushes past the insolent soldier and stoops to gather the consecrated wafers in trembling hands. The soldier fires another round above Romero's head.Read more ›
This movie portrays the story of a quiet, bookish man who stood in the gap between the machine of dehumanizing globalization and the children of Jesus. We watch him wrestle with discovering an authentic Christian response to the injustices and oppression prevalent in El Salvador. We see him reprimand all those who would practice violence, whether as military authority, rebels, or institutionalized violence that robs people of their humanity and ability to feed their families.
The movie was filmed in Mexico, not Hollywood. Raul Julia deserved an Oscar for his performance as Romero. Mexican extras bring a feeling of authenticity that could not have been realized in Hollywood. The telling manages to avoid most of the "splatter" depictions of violence that most box office draws include, and by so doing, makes the violence even more heinous.
This is a powerful story, whether you are Christian or Pagan, Marxist or Capitalist. It is superbly told. This is the story of a person finding his authentic place in the midst of a struggle for justice.
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The movie depicts Oscar Arturo Romero from his new appointment as El Salvador's archbishop until his murder while saying Mass in 1980. Between those endpoints Romero experiences the poverty of his people and their suffering at the hands of the military government. More and more, he takes an active role in opposing the brutalization of his people, opposing also his bishops who preferred to deal with purely spiritual matters. But Romero's vision of the gospel doesn't let him off so easy. To live as a follower of Jesus means encountering the Cross. Romero comes to see that avoiding "politics" means abandoning the poor and oppressed to their tormentors.
Raul Julia does a creditable, if somewhat plodding job of portraying the Archbishop. Julia doesn't quite get down to the interior fire that drove Romero to a date with martyrdom. Romero's real speeches are fiery and poetic, qualities that Julia's Romero does not seem able to capture.
In spite of its shortcomings, "Romero" delivers a stirring portrait of a man who risked all, opposing his institution's placidity in the face of evil, challenging its reluctance to engage the world as well as his sacrificing own inclination to live quietly.
This 1989 film, though filmed in English and starring a major cinematic figure (the late Raul Julia), was certainly not a typical Hollywood production. It was reportedly produced by the Paulist Fathers and funding in part came from donations by concerned Catholics. It's a "small," film but certainly compelling. Some have lamented the film's relative predictability. But, of course, screenwriter John Sacret Young and director John Duigan were limited by the actual facts of Romero's life. There may have been ways of putting a little more punch into the plotline, I suppose, but overall the facts of Romero's life are riveting enough.
In the classic social drama, the political awakening of the hero is a pretty standard theme. Think NORMA RAE or THE CHINA SYNDROME or COMING HOME from the 1970s (the last gasp of social consciousness in American film, it seems). As in those films, the hero Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador is something of a political naif. A bit timid and bookish, he is promoted to the archbishopric because he seems among the least likely clergy to rock the boat.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Romero is a powerful movie that speaks to the abuse of power and the strength to stand against that abuse. Read morePublished 1 hour ago by John W Huxtable
Political thriller, with a moral backbone. The actor used Romero's actual glasses during filming, a nice touch.Published 9 days ago by Mike C
Excellent view of life in El Salvador. Kind of at a loss of over what time frame it was.Published 14 days ago by Steve Macy
It is simply a wonderful work of courage and hardship, where governments, the U.S. and El Salvador, conspired together to destroy 60,000 lives in eight years. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Stephen baccari
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