One can expect film critics to lose their senses when the subject of a film touches on religion. With few exceptions, film critics are ardent secularists who don't get religion. Thus, there are (as expected) reviews of For Greater Glory that sneer about its failure to acknowledge the real reason the Cristeros rebellion ended; namely, that the US ambassador brokered a peace treaty in order to protect US interests in Mexico. Trouble is, that actually is the message of the film and it is one of the notes that is not quite right. In history, the peace treaty ended much of the persecution, but not all: the Calles government that led the persecution broke the treaty agreement and rounded up 3000 disarmed Cristero leaders and assassinated them. However some of the Cristeros kept on fighting, although in much diminished numbers. About 7000 took part in a Second Cristero Rebellion from 1934 to '39 under the Lazaro Cardenas regime. Cardenas was not as tough as Calles and killed hundreds where Calles killed thousands.
Some of the reviews are glowing, such as Fox News and the Seattle Times. However, as you might guess, the San Francisco Chronicle is not pleased. Some critics are even skeptical about the seriousness of the Cristero rebellion. Maybe they should ponder the historical fact that there were 4500 priests in Mexico when the war stared and less than 500 when it ended. The balance were killed, exiled or fled.
Well, Raul Lequizamon, an Argentinian friend living in Mexico reports that the reaction to the Mexican version of the film, called Cristiada, evoked the same left/right passions when it came out last month. "The 'intelligentsia', especially from the UNAM (national university in Mexico City) and other state universities was very negative about it and said that it is just Catholic propaganda for next general election." The Christian universities (now allowed again) had a different opinion.
Film critics in the US as well as Mexico probably also are breaking on ideological lines. Funny how critics don't think a film they disagree with find fault with the production quality, while fans of a film's message (and, face it, most films do have a message, one way or another) rave about the acting, exciting pace, etc.
Some critics complain that the film, though an epic, is too long and emotionally nuanced, others that it fails to cover all the distinct trends and developments in the historical story. Well, it's hard to do both!
Dr. Leguizamon says that the episode where President Calles meets privately with Gen. Gorostetia is an invention, undoubtedly for dramatic purposes. He also notes that the Mexican Revolution of 1910-17 was an even bloodier era, ending the lives of about a million people in a much smaller population. "It seems," he says, "that we Spanish descendants are very prone to solve our differences by the use of arms!"
They're not alone. What is terrible is when religion--or anti-religion--is the motivation.