Although the events transpired nearly a century ago, the movie’s focus on religious freedom is one that resonates today– especially as we debate the government’s ability to put restrictions on religious institutions.
But the new film isn’t simply about a discussion or a debate. It’s about a government making laws against religious freedom and executing those who ignore them.
In a recent roundtable interview, Glory director Dean Wright talked about the movie’s theme, the story behind the motion picture and which cast member co-star Peter O’ Toole compared to Katharine Hepburn.
Although Glory is Wright’s directorial debut, the filmmaker has worked behind the camera for nearly three decades. He served as the visual effects producer for Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and received an Oscar nomination for his work on 2005’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.
With a background in visual effects, Wright knows how to use visual motifs and camera angles to tell a story. And he noted that many of his visual decisions in Glory attempted to “reinforce the overall theme in the film” which involves both the ideas of faith and sacrifice.
“For Greater Glory” focuses on General Gorostieta, an atheist portrayed by Andy Garcia, who is recruited to lead an unorganized army against an overbearing government. As the war wages on, a plucky young man named Jose (Mauricio Kuri) joins the fight and inspires the general on and off the battlefield.
In telling the general’s story, Wright wanted to be honest about the general’s personal faith. The general didn’t go to fight for the Church, nor was he a strong believer himself. But he did believe in something. After talking to the generals’ family for the production, Wright told us that the general “believed in religious freedom … and that’s what he went to go fight for.”
The director added that the general might have had other motivations as well.
“He was a glorious general and had incredible victories,” he says, but after retiring from combat, he might have believed that his best days were behind him.
He was “looking for meaning in his life,” Wright said, and he might have searched for that by returning to the battlefield.
While engaged in war though, the general finds motivation in an unlikely place: in the eyes of a child. And after a long casting process, Kuri was chosen to play the young soldier. After originally auditioning for a smaller role, the director asked Kuri to comeback for another test and when he came back, “he just blew us away and I just knew it. I knew it. That was Jose.”
On the set, Kuri received a lot of support from the legendary O’Toole who appears in several scenes with him. Off camera, Wright noted that O’Toole’s assistant informed him that the eight-time Oscar nominee had privately said the teenage actor reminded him of a young Katharine Hepburn.
For Greater Glory arrives in theaters nationwide June 1st.