an Interview        withR ol a n d Jo f f é
There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé                                                   2                      ...
There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé   3ROME, JAN. 1, 2011 ( ThisSpring, a movie will be released ...
There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé                                                                         4...
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There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé                                                                          ...
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There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé                                                                        8Z...
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There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé                                                                 16calmly ...
There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé                                       17Appendix IISome useful linksAbout...
There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé                                                           18About the con...
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There be Dragons by R. Joffe


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On January 1, 2011, the news agency Zenit published an interview with Roland Joffé, the director of the forthcoming movie "There will be dragons". The movie is set during the Spanish Civil War and features themes such as saintliness and betrayal, love and hatred, forgiveness and violence, and finding meaning in everyday life. Joffé explains in some detail the role of Saint Josemaria as one of the principal characters in this movie.

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There be Dragons by R. Joffe

  1. 1. an Interview withR ol a n d Jo f f é
  2. 2. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 2 St. Josemaría Escrivá, Civil War and Forgiveness Interview With "There Be Dragons" Movie Director Roland Joffé By Jesús Colina
  3. 3. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 3ROME, JAN. 1, 2011 ( ThisSpring, a movie will be released that willfeature as one of the leading characters St.Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, withthemes of war, love and forgiveness.ZENIT spoke with Roland Joffé, the directorof the new movie, "There Be Dragons," whois also known for directing the films "TheMission" and "The Killing Fields."The forthcoming movie is set during theSpanish Civil War and features themes suchas saintliness and betrayal, love and hatred,forgiveness and violence, and findingmeaning in everyday life.ZENIT interviewed Joffé at the beginning ofthis year that marks 75 years since theoutbreak of the war, about the story behindthis film and the highlights an audience canexpect.
  4. 4. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 4ZENIT: What does the title -- "There Be "There Be Dragons" is about the very different choices that people take at those turning-points -- temptations, if youDragons" -- refer to? like -- and how hard it is, and yet how necessary, to escape cycles of hatred and resentment and violence.Joffé: Medieval maps labeled unknown territory with thewords "Hic sunt dragones" -- "here be dragons."Because I didnt really know what was coming next when Istarted, researching and writing this screenplay, or how itwould quite end, "There Be Dragons" seems like a very apttitle -- I was going a little off my map into uncharteredterritory, into themes of what saintliness might be, themesof religion and twentieth century politics and into the pastof another country.I was struck by Josemarías statement that God is found in"everyday life," and that everyday life, in his case, was theSpanish Civil War.I wondered: How could one find the divine in war? Butthen the same question can be asked of all the fundamentalchallenges in life, and how we face them: How we respondto hatred and rejection, or the desire for revenge andjustice -- all those dilemmas are heightened in wartime.Those dilemmas are, in a sense, the "dragons" of the film -- turning points in our lives where were faced with potent Charlie Cox as Saint Josemariachoices, choices that are going to affect our future.
  5. 5. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 5ZENIT: The movie is set in the context of the compassion -- and a firm, individual, and yes, heroic resolve not to be caught up in prevailing hatreds, but toSpanish Civil War, which is in a certain sense fight them with unremitting love.the paradigm for violence that leads to moreviolence, and violence that makes no sense.Faced with a scene such as this one -- a sceneof fratricidal violence -- is there room forhope?Joffé: Yes -- but its extremely hard. So many horrible,horrendous acts between people seem unforgivable,unredeemable, impossible to move beyond.But forgiveness is possible! Cycles of violence can behalted, as President Mandela demonstrated in SouthAfrica. Forgiveness has been possible for many heroicpeople in Rwanda, and offered and taken by many bravePalestinians and Israelis.Josemaría also claimed that ordinary people were quitecapable of being saints -- and I think this kind of heroicforgiveness is what he was talking about.The inexhaustible possibility of forgiveness is what offersroom for hope. But the price is high: It takes a deep senseof what it is to be fully human, a deep feeling for Saint Josemaria in 1939
  6. 6. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 6Most of the action in the movie takes place during the his father Manolo was a childhood friend of Josemarías,Spanish Civil War, but it flips between that backdrop and and was in the seminary with him -- though their lives took1982. dramatically different paths. Robert and Manolo are estranged, but the film brings them together at the same time as the terrible truth about the past is revealed. So this is also about a father and a son, and the truth that needs to be faced in order to overcome what is between them. This is very much a movie about love, about the strength of its presence and the arid and terrifying world that we inhabit in its absence. Civil wars are most appalling because they pit brother against brother, family against family. By the end of the Spanish Civil War, half a million people had died. A civil war is a powerful metaphor for a family. As in civil wars, family members take sides and split up; old resentments become sources of hatred. We dont forgive our aunt for doing this, we dont speak to our father because he left our mother, we dont speak to our mother Wes Bentley as Manolo because she went off with a man, or we dont speak to ourThere are many generations involved in this story: The son because he chose a different profession than what wepast casts a shadow over the present. What connects them expected. Those are the civil wars of our everyday Robert, a journalist asked to do a story about Josemaría "There Be Dragons" is about both kinds of civil war.Escrivá at the time of his beatification. He discovers that
  7. 7. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 7Essentially weve all got to choose whether to hang on to Love doesnt, cannot, always come easily. It cant comeour resentments or find a way of conquering them. with a sense of superiority; it can only come with a senseLife can be seen as a series of injustices, of rejections and of humility and shared humanity. And yet it has a powerfulhurts, or as full of opportunities, of chances to conquer beauty. It says: "Yes, step out of yourself. You think youthose dragons through the overwhelming desire to replace cant forgive?" Well, you wont know if you can forgivehatred with love and connection. until youve done it.Many people have it in them to make that heroic choice. And how do you forgive? You forgive by empathizing.They realize that they can make a choice to be free. They You forgive by being that other person. By abandoninghave the strength of character to understand that hate is a demonization, by not saying, "Im better than that person, Iprison. could never do that," but by looking at that person and saying, "That could be me."No one who hates can be free. Havent we seen so manyexamples of this in the years since the First World War? So yes, there is room for hope -- even in the most painful,On the other hand, when people choose to love, the tragic and appalling circumstances, where hope seemsimpartial observer can feel it in them -- the sense of impossible.freedom, of compassion, of giving.Finally, we all face this choice. Even Robert, the agnosticand materialist, is asked to choose between love and hate --to, in a sense, fight the world with love, or as Aline puts it,"to fight God with love."So this is what this movie is about for me. Forgivenessunlocks whats been frozen. It touches everything humaninside the one who is forgiven as it touches everythinghuman in the one who forgives.
  8. 8. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 8ZENIT: Does this movie speak to believers, up with jealousy and resentment. The love that Manolo craves and eventually receives is again another veryor to nonbelievers? particular kind of love. These different kinds of love all come together like aJoffé: "There Be Dragons" takes faith seriously. spiders web of individual threads, and each thread seemsIt takes sainthood seriously. But its appeal goes well separate, but then the realization dawns that they are allbeyond a religious audience. part of a greater whole, attached to the same thing, and leading to the same point, to the same center.The question presupposes a separation that is actuallyphony. We all live in a troubled world; we all deal with thepain and joy of everyday life, and though we may bringdifferent interpretations of reality to bear on thisexperience, we all in the end inhabit the same torn andtroubled world.This is a film about believers and non-believers. I wasdeeply touched by Josemarías sense that we are allpotential saints, his belief that everyone was finallycapable of slaying their own dragons.I hope people watching the film will see in it their ownstruggles with their own dragons, and recognize his pointthat no saint ever became a saint without struggle. Olga Kurylenko as IldikoThe film is also about many forms of love. Ildikos love forOriol is a particular kind of love. Her love for making a In the end, all these different strands of love that look sobetter world is another kind of love. Manolos love for different will come back to one fundamental point: "Is thisIldiko is yet another type of love, even though its bound love greater than my self-love?" Thats a rich question.
  9. 9. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 9And much politics of the early twentieth century was ZENIT: How much of the character ofengaged in it. Josémaría Escrivá, who is now a saint in theHowever, it poses yet another question of deepercomplexity. If this passionate love is based on an ideal, or Catholic Church, is based on fact, and howon an idealization, if it is accepting of only one model of much is based on fiction?human behavior, how does it avoid sliding into bigotry ordemonization? Since the Enlightenment this has been amajor question. Joffé: Of all the characters in the movie, Josemaría is the only one that existed in history, the only one about whomIn the cause of the love of the greater good, many acts of there are plenty of records and evidence.gross humanity have been committed. It seems to me thatonly by understanding the tragic fallibility of all human I believe that the representation of Josemaría that we havebeings and all human endeavors can we find a path to in terms of his kind of lovingness, his sense of humor --understanding and that deep empathy, that sense of which undoubtedly he had -- was brought out by the eventsoneness with others, that offers freedom from of his life and that its actually very close to who he reallydemonization and cycles of unredeemed violence. was.This is not a Catholic movie, but its about a key theme in I wanted to find an honest viewpoint in portraying hisChristian theology and in all Christian churches, as well as character, and to take his faith at face value, as he did. Iin many other religions. suppose the convention with saints is to see them, in weird opposition to the whore with the heart of gold, as men withAll religions understand that human beings, in their hearts of lead; but thats just a comfortable convention.relationships with each other, play out divine choices --choices that profoundly affect others and the world around In fact Josemarías story is that of a man who goes throughthem. That interconnectedness is the basis of love -- what the extraordinary step of simplifying his life around a purewe do for or against others affects us and them because we and powerful love for God. This love for God becomes anare all bound together. organizing principle that gives him a shape and a kind of simplicity and strength.
  10. 10. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 10 We have to find this love deep within ourselves, understanding the dark beauty of our own and other peoples frailty. In a profound sense that seems to me to be what the story of Christ demonstrates. If we are believers we still have to find this love deep in ourselves and offer it to God and his rich creation. If we are not believers we must still find it and offer it to other human beings regardless of politics or race or religion. Rodrigo Santoro as OriolBut that doesnt make him dull or flat, because this loveexisted in the real world, and the fruit of that existence inthe real, often cruel, harsh world, must for any honest manbe doubt: doubt in God and doubt in goodness. This doubtis deeply, profoundly fertile.Love is not spoon-fed to us, as a sine qua non. It has to befought for. Its what we as human beings have to bring tothe table.
  11. 11. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 11ZENIT: Did you have previous ideas about In the background, however, the DVD was playing and a moment in the story catches my eye, which is Josemaríahow to represent the Spanish Civil War, or addressing a large group of people, maybe in Chile, orsome of the characters, such as St. Josemaría Argentina, Im actually not sure where it was, and a girlEscrivá? raises her hand and says, "Ive got a question to ask."Joffé: I didnt know much about Josemaría before I wasasked to film the movie.What actually happened was that at one point one of theproducers of the movie had come to Holland to persuademe to the do the movie. And he brought various books andmaterials with him that included a DVD of Josemaría.We had a very, very nice dinner together, and I walkedhome thinking: "I dont really want to do this. Ive gotanother project that I really want to do that is set in Indiaand Ive worked a long time to get this ready." In otherwords, I was thinking that it was a very, very nice offerand I really appreciated the meal, but I should say no.It was a summer evening so I went into the garden, had aglass of white wine, put the DVD into my DVD player, The Jewish girl mentioned by Joffé asking herand sat at my computer to type a little letter saying: "Dear question (July 5, 1974 in Chile)X, thank you so much. I appreciate that youve come all And Josemaría says, "Yes, please."this way, but I really think you should look somewhere And she says, "Id like to convert to Christianity."else."
  12. 12. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 12And he says, "Yes?"And she says, "But my parents are Jewish and they are notvery happy about the idea."Josemaría, without batting an eyelid, says: "Oh my dear,no, no, honoring your parents is very, very dear to God.God doesnt ask you to dishonor your parents, make yourparents unhappy. Absolutely not! What you feel in yourheart is what you feel in your heart. No, no, no, dont upsetyour parents -- dont make your parents feel bad. Theresabsolutely no need for that."I looked at that moment in the video and I thought tomyself: "What a wonderful moment. What a kind ofunexpected and wonderful moment, particularly from anorganization which everybody thinks its bound to say theopposite." Saint Josemaria answering the question of theI looked at my computer and I thought, "Wait a minute." I Jewish girl (July 5, 1974 in Chile)turned the DVD off. I stopped the letter. I went into myscreenplay mode and I wrote a scene where Josemaría Instead of the first letter I was going to write, I wrotemeets a man whos dying, who he knows from before, who instead: "Dear X, Im really interested in doing this project,tells him hes Jewish and thinking of converting. providing Im left to follow my own devices, and youre not expecting me to follow any party lines, and if youI wrote the whole scene, all the while thinking: "I really accept the fact that Im not very bright and Ill do the best Iwant to see that in a film. But Im never going to see it in a can, but I have to follow my own truth. If thats okay, Ifilm if I dont do this film, am I? Where would it fit into would really love to do this project."any other film?"
  13. 13. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 13That is pretty much what happened. I had no real that Britain, for instance, had been through and absorbedpreconceptions of Josemaría, some knowledge of course, for a hundred years.but mostly I had this moment I experienced with the DVDthat sparked my interest in doing the movie.I was presented with a story about a man that I read, andrealized I really respected this man. In fact, more thansimply respecting him, I felt that that he enshrinedsomething in his struggle that would speak to all humanbeings in a rather wonderful way, and thats the story Iwanted to tell, and thats what the movie is about.The Spanish Civil War, of course, was equally complex todeal with. It would have been easy to take sides, but thatwould have betrayed the central thrust of the way that Iwanted to tell this story.History is notoriously partisan, written by the victors andrewritten by the vanquished. Many will simply believe the A scene from the movierumor or myth that they find most palatable and I am sure Industrial revolution, stark class ideologies, plus in Spainwere going to battle some opinions about what Opus Dei loss of empire and economic instability -- in Spain thingsis or was, about who Josemaría was, and what the Spanish were drawn starkly, more in black and white. It wasCivil War was really "about." actually very easy for Spanish society to fracture and veryI wanted to show what was going on in Spain during the easy -- in the thinking of the time -- to take ultimate andcivil war without partisanship. In fact Spain was going utterly opposing views about social justice, the role of thethrough, in a very condensed period of time, something Church, and so on.
  14. 14. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 14Eventually, as is the nature of these social tensions, the ZENIT: Did working on this film influencemore extreme views started tugging the others apart. Asthe center weakened, the two opposing poles began to get you somehow in your personal life?stronger.Both sides in the Spanish Civil War had ideals and a sense Joffé: Let me answer the question in the following way:of their own virtue. In common with similar political Im not really very religious but I was asked to write aboutmovements in the rest of Europe, people on both sides of a man who was.the political divide began to demonize the other. I had to take a step back and say: "When I write aboutBut what in Europe became national divides in Spain Josemaría, I must take at face value -- utterly, honestly,remained fratricidal and left psychological scars that are and truthfully -- everything that Josemaría is telling me hedeep and hard to heal. What was happening in Spain was stood for, that his life was about, and that his religiouswounding and complicated and really split families in a experience was about. I must read about religiousmost painful and harrowing way. experience without prejudice, honestly; and just let it lookBrother chose differently to brother, but does that mean at me in the face."theyre no longer brothers? If it does mean they are no I read a lot about religious experience. I was moved andlonger brothers -- if were willing to kill our brothers for delighted to find how many scientists ( in particularthe sake of what we believe -- then what does that ask physicists) were deeply involved in experiencing God, andabout the value of our choices? I was moved to find that the divide between science and religion that has become so much the current thinking of our time was in fact false. I came to understand the great discovery of modern physics that our sense of reality is based on the models of it we make in our brains, but that there are therefore many models of reality.
  15. 15. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 15Many of them are insufficient to explain all things, but Appendix Isuitable to explain some; they offer us a new way ofunderstanding what in fact reality or realities may be andthat this understanding in no way precludes the idea of A translation of the dialogue mentioned byGod or a spiritual dimension to the grand universe that we Joffé of the Jewish girl with Saint Josemariainhabit, but rather that the way that science has led us toredefine and reinterpret what is real offers us also a chance on July 5, 1974, Tabancura, Santiago deto reinterpret and redefine the spiritual. ChileI probably wont know for a few years how this experiencehas affected me. I think something profound takes a little Jewish girl: Father, I am Jewish, but I believe in thebit of time to reveal itself for what it really is. catholic religion. I would like, my most fervent desire is to be converted to Catholicism, but I am a minor, and myTherefore, I found a very odd thing out of filming "There parents wouldnt let me.Be Dragons," which is that, rather than this being a lonelyexperience, which I thought it might be, I found it Saint Josemaria Look I am going to tell you somethingextremely engaging and not lonely at all. that will make you very happy, I - and I learnt it from this son of mine here - I have to tell you that the greatest loveTo suddenly think, "Well let me lay aside my simple of my life is Jewish, Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, of your race.answers and just live with the question," was to me And the second is Mary most holy, virgin and mother,wonderfully compelling and made me feel very, very close mother of that Jewish boy, my mother and yours. Do youto this process of living in a way I dont think Ive felt like that? Then I tell you to be very good with yourbefore. And Im not sure now where that might lead. parents, to be patient, to pray. Dont show any sign of rebellion. Is that clear? Yes Father! And our Lord of Nazareth, Jesus the Jew, Jesus the king of all hearts, and all wills, will move your parents to let you
  16. 16. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 16calmly and serenely follow the way you have already Love your parents a lot, agreed?found hidden in your soul, that vita abscondita cum Yes Father!Christo in Deo, Allright? And in the mean time, learn the doctrine of Jesus Christ, and pray, pray my daughter, Your baptism of desire, you have it already. Pray, and never a word of criticism of your parents. Because that is quite clear, you have to love them with all your heart, and show it with deeds, agreed? Yes Father! You will be a good daughter of Christ, if you are a good daughter to your parents. Saint Josemaria during the get-together on July 5, 1974 in Chile.Yes Father!Yes?Yes Father!
  17. 17. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 17Appendix IISome useful linksAbout There be dragons, including trailer: On Saint Josemaria
  18. 18. There be Dragons, an interview with Roland Joffé 18About the conversation with the Jewish girl, Final remarksoriginal version (Spanish): This presentation can be found on: CSR: Culture Science and Religion Group: CSR: Dragon This presentation is edited by Alfred Driessen