There Be Dragons (2011)

Roland Joffe, the director who brought us the highly acclaimed and deeply spiritual film The Mission has returned to his roots with the epic movie There Be Dragons, a powerful story of war, tragedy, love and redemption. Set during the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War (1930s), it tells the story of two childhood friends who become separated during the political conflict to find themselves on opposite sides as war erupts. One chooses the path of peace and becomes a priest while the other chooses the life of a soldier driven by jealousy and revenge. Each will struggle to find the power of forgiveness over the forces that tore their lives and friendship apart. [official synopsis]

Planned for release in theatres worldwide in Spring, 2011.
Trailer and behind-the-scenes video below

Charlie Cox (Stardust) - Josemaría Escrivá
Wes Bentley (The Claim) - Manolo
Olga Kurylenko (Centurion) - Ildiko
Rodrigo Santoro (Love Actually) - Oriol
Dougray Scott (Ever After) - Robert, son of Manolo
Geraldine Chaplin, Derek Jacobi , Charles Dance, Michael Feast, Lily Cole, Golshifteh Farahani, Robert Blythe

The film is both written and directed by Oscar-nominated British filmmaker Roland Joffé (The Killing Fields, The Mission, City of Joy, The Scarlet Letter). Joffe said that it's a " story about people trying to find meaning about their lives." The epic film tells the story of a present-day Spanish journalist, Robert, who is mending relations with his dying father, Manolo, who took part in the Spanish Civil War. The journalist discovers through his investigations that his father was a close childhood friend of Josemaría Escrivá , a candidate for sainthood, with whom he had a complicated relationship. Manolo became a soldier during the Spanish Civil War and became obsessed with a beautiful Hungarian revolutionary, Ildiko. She rejects him and gives herself to a brave militia leader Oriol. Manolo becomes jealous and takes a path of betrayal.

The film includes the early life of Josemaría Escrivá, a modern-day saint and the founder of Opus Dei, an institution of the Catholic Church which teaches that ordinary human life is a path to sanctity. Escrivá, who died in 1975, was canonized by John Paul II in 2002. Joffé, who initially shied away from the project, was "ultimately intrigued by the chance to dramatize the life of a modern-day saint, particularly considering Escrivá's 'liberating' view that a path to God could be found in an ordinary life."

According to Joffé, they are "making a film about love, human love and divine love, about hate, about betrayal, about war, about mistakes, about everything it is to be a human being." "Reconciliation matters" is the main take away message that Joffe expects from the viewers and that this is “a film about what it means to be a saint in this day and age."

Why the title? It refers to its theme exploring the unknown territories of hatred, guilt, and forgiveness explained producer Ignacio G. Sancha. "There be dragons" is an abbreviation of "here there be dragons" from the Latin hic sunt dracones, an ancient way of denoting in maps a place where there is danger, or an unknown place, a place to be explored.

Behind the Scenes...


  1. This looks like a really good film. Thank you for the heads up.

  2. Interesting film, though I must say Spanish Civil War took place between 1936 and 1939 (hardly early 1900s), and that Escrivá de Balaguer and the Opus Dei are not really beautiful subjects to make a film about, at least a film of these caracheristics.

  3. @Audrey,
    You're welcome, I'm intrigued by it!

    I corrected the date that the synopsis had wrong and respectfully disagree with you. I think that the life of a modern saint would make a very interesting film!

  4. Well, Opus Dei is considered a sort of a cult in Spain. Besides, his founder and his followers are politically in the extreme right. Opus Dei is not well considered in Spain, that's why I said that.

  5. @Anon (a name would be preferable),
    I think that the active members of Opus Dei in Spain might disagree with you about it not being "well considered". As far as it being considered a cult, I think if that were the case, the Catholic Church would be hesitant to declare its founder as a saint.

  6. Look at this list of members and you will see that there are more Opus Dei people of the left than of the right.

    Members are quite varied:

  7. I'm sorry I post as Anonymous, I don't have an account. My name is Concepción, I'm from Spain, and unfortunately, I know what I'm talking about. My family suffered the consequences of being inside Opus Dei, which I will not tell here in respect for them. It's true they're not well considered here, but the opposite thing. Their name is fearful. And I don't know if you really know about the Catholic Church, but they tend to declaire saints to all kind of people, whether they deserve it or not. In fact, there were many voices against Escrivà de Balaguer being made a saint.

    @Anonymous: The list you posted proves my point. The Spanish members of Opus Dei are mostly people of the right, in fact, most of the politicians members of the Opus Dei were Franco's men. You should check the link I posted earlier, you will see their ideas about women, other religions and so on.
    Believe me, I'm Spanish, I know what I'm talking about. I lived it myself. I feel very sad someone made a film about that man as if he was a good person when he was not.

    (I'm sorry for my possible mispellings, English is not my mother tongue).


  9. 'Anon' and 'Anon',
    Personally, I don't think that this comment section of a 'blog for period films' is the optimal place to enter into a debate about the merits or faults about Opus Dei. I realize that there is controversy surrounding the organization (fanned by the fiction written by Dan Brown) but as for myself, I would like to see the movie especially after hearing the comments made by director Roland Joffé. If either of you wish to discuss this, do feel free to use my email!

  10. It looks like an interesting film, but it will be strange to see non Spanish actors playing the part of Spanish characters... Specially if you are Spanish like me.

    I'm sure it will cause controversy here as Civil War is still a painful subject for us. Two of my own greatgranparents were in prision for long years and some other relatives were killed during the war...

    It will depend on how everything will be treated in the movie, but I'm sure one side or the other will be unpleased as there are still plenty of supporters of each side...

  11. Pearl gatherer,
    I recall reading something about how the director hoped that the film might heal some of the division caused by the war. Sorry to hear about your grandparents and relatives.

  12. Actually it's not that strange, most Spanish families have some relatives who died during the war or were taken to prision after it. That's the way it is...

    I really hope this movie doesn't end up causing controversy. It is actually an interesting period (it's only we attach too many feelings towards it)

  13. I hadn't heard about this! You just made my day!

  14. I thought this was a beautiful movie. It made me want to find out more about the Spanish Civil War. I thought the Escriva part was well played. I especially like the movie when I figured out that Roberto was played by the actor who was the prince in "Ever After". Yummy!

  15. I hope you can see this I can't get it to work everytime I try and comment.

    Have you seen the film yet? I really want to see it.

  16. @Anonymous
    I've not seen it yet. Hoping that it comes to our cities soon!

    Sorry you couldn't comment earlier. I know a friend's blog has had that problem but I didn't know anyone had that issue here.



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