There Be Dragons (… and There Be Free DVDs)

To celebrate the DVD release of “There Be Dragons,” Catholic Exchange is giving away five DVDs of the film. Details are provided at the end of this article.

“In order to love and serve God, it is not necessary to do extraordinary things. Christ asks all men without exception to be perfect as His heavenly Father is perfect (cf. Mt 5:48). For the great majority of men, to be holy consists of sanctifying their work, to sanctify themselves in their work, to sanctify others with work, and also to find God on the road of their life.” ~ St. Josemaria Escriva, Founder of Opus Dei

Ever since I was a child, I have loved reading stories of the saints. I find inspiration in their practice of heroic virtue and comfort in the fact that ordinary people can become extraordinarily holy. As an adult, I am particularly interested in the lives of modern saints. I think it’s fascinating that people who have flown in airplanes, watched TV, and actually lived and breathing during my lifetime (or shortly before) are now canonized saints.

Based on this interest, I jumped at the opportunity to screen the film “There Be Dragons,” a fictionalized account of the life of St. Josemaria Escriva (who would celebrate his 110th birthday this week if he were still alive). The story is relayed in flashbacks through the recollections of Escriva’s childhood friend, Manolo (Wes Bentley). Manolo’s painful memories are unearthed when his estranged son Robert (Dougray Scott) begins to research a book on Escriva (Charlie Cox) and discovers that his father briefly attended a seminary with the saint. Against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, father, son, and saint face the titular dragons of their intersecting lives.

Although “There Be Dragons” did not set any box office records or receive critical acclaim, I found the film absorbing. I’ve watched several other saint biographies that depict their subjects as literally glowing with heavenly light, so it was refreshing to see the very human portrayal of St. Josemaria. He made mistakes, he had doubts, and he even gave a fellow seminarian a bloody nose.

Unlike some small-budget, Christian-themed movies, the production quality and acting are excellent. At times the picture was too dark, and it was difficult to see exactly what was going on in certain scenes, but the film overall is very professional.

Parents should heed the PG-13 rating as this is not a movie for children due to mature themes and realistic wartime violence. Older teens might enjoy watching an account of a saint who died shortly before they were born and seeing how he navigated the political and cultural landmines during a time of extreme conflict between left and right, much like our present age.

I appreciated the fact that this film was not just a biography of a saint of our times. The use of Manolo, Robert, and other fictional characters helped to develop the themes of loyalty, betrayal, and forgiveness while contrasting the increasing virtue of Josemaria with the descent into vice of his childhood friend. Although the film hints at the controversy of Opus Dei, the organization founded by St. Josemaria, it is not the focus of “There Be Dragons.” Perhaps this movie might inspire viewers to learn more about this colorful saint of our own time.

If for no other reason, “There Be Dragons” is worth seeing based on its positive portrayal of forgiveness. According to Joaquin Navarro-Valls, a former Vatican spokesman, the producers of the movie “are daily receiving messages of thanks from people who see the movie and decide to return home after years of separation, from spouses who are reconciled, from parents and children who have come to accept one another again, from others who return to God after a long time of being distanced from him.”

“There Be Dragons” is being released on DVD and Blu-ray on  January 10. The film is rated PG-13 for violence and combat sequences, some language and thematic elements.

*Catholic Exchange readers have an opportunity to win one of 5 free copies of the “There Be Dragons” DVD. Simply leave a comment on this article, and you will be entered in the contest. Remember, you must first log in or register as a new user in order to leave a comment. Deadline for entering is January 16 at midnight Pacific Standard Time. Winners will be notified through their registered email addresses, and the names be posted in the comment section below on January 18. Be sure to check back in case the email didn’t get through your spam filter. If winners do not respond with a mailing address by January 23, then a new winner will be selected.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • abbaschild

    This sounds like a wonderful movie! I am anxious to see it. It is so refreshing to hear stories of people who have lived in our generation, dealt with our problems, & became saints!!! (or are on their way to becoming saints such as Mother Teresa & John Paul II). Gives us all encouragement & hope! Also, watching a movie that deals with forgiveness is greatly needed at this time.
    I am proud to be a Catholic & proud to see movies that proclaim our Catholicism to the world!

  • Ramon

    I can’t believe this film is finally available on DVD. It seems that I have been waiting a life time to see this film again after I viewed it in the theaters last year during its limited release. Along with The Great Miracle that was out in October of last year. There Be Dragons was one of the files that have helped to keep me motivated about being Christian and have helped motivate me to continue on the path to heaven. I have and continue to strongly recommend this film to everyone I know and meet. Five stars and 4 thumbs up. 🙂

  • jeanm

    I am so happy this movie is coming out on DVD. I am a longtime admirer of St. Josemaria Escriva and would love to have a copy of the DVD to share with family and those in my community. Thank you for this wonderful offer!

  • kvancura

    I, too, recommend this movie to adults; some of the situations promote immoral behavior. However, not only is the message of forgiveness a wonderful one, as a movie I felt it was very engaging.

  • Joseph Bear

    Thanks for the review. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie. It’s always good to know about movies that project a positive view of the Church and her people.

  • tree

    I really wanted to see this movie but never made it. Good to know it’s out on DVD. Thanks.

  • niamh

    Saw the trailer on u tube months ago and it looks great! It has not come out in the cinemas in Europe so would love to have the chance to hold a get together viewing of it with friends. A super way of making holiness real and accessible and tells a good story. Can’t wait to see it! 😉

  • Brian

    I have not seen this movie yet but would enjoy seeing it with my family. It sounds like an excellent movie.

  • fmarion

    It sounds like a great thought-provoking movie. My adult daughter and wife and I would enjoy seeing it.

  • bwseiter

    Very excited to see this. I’d love to share a copy with friends that might not rent it otherwise.

  • It is great to see a movie the older kids can watch and not roll their eyes at. We will have to have an older kid movie night and then a separate one for the younger ones that they will appreciate!

  • yblegen

    During the Coming Home Conference held in Columbus, Ohio in October 2009, I got to the the preview and was spellbound. I couldn’t let go. First of all, I knew nothing about the Spanish Civil War. It was very powerful. As soon as it came to the movies, I took anyone I knew to see it. Glad the DVD is finally out. It’s a movie that takes more than one sitting to absorb.

  • lizrog

    I heard about this movie on the radio and was so excited, but never saw signs of it again. My husband and I would love the chance to see it!

  • Looks like a film I’d love to share with the high school kids in our parish Youth Ministry program.

  • rgalassi

    I was able to see this film at a viewing in Milwaukee last spring. It was incredibly captivating and surprisingly well done! I very much appreciated the emphasis on the emotional struggles St Jose Maria Escriva. I would LOVE to show this to my students.

  • bemoore

    Interesting article. Coincidentally thinking about how we all have an opportunity to live saintly lives if we stay centered on Jesus this morning before reading the article.

  • We loved this movie. St.Josemaria has been a part of my life since I was born thanks to my parents. I remember him from being a blessed and to the day when He became a saint! My father was blessed enough to meet him. St.Josemaria is our role model in our home to become a saint in the little things of everyday!

    God Bless!

  • servant

    Excellent! I’ve been anticipating the release of this film on DVD for quite some time and am glad to see that it is now available. I think it’s very important for people – particularly in our time – to have opportunities to see portrayals of canonized saints as actual human beings who shared similar struggles and setbacks as anyone else.

  • shannoncandler

    I too am very inspired by the lives of the saints and think this one would be especially good for me and amy husband to watch. I love the quote at the beginnning of the article!!

  • waynergf

    I’ve put it at the top of my movies-to-watch list! 🙂

  • kellyzita4

    I’m looking forward to seeing it too. =-)

  • krby34

    I will be watching this film with several of the adults I have had through the RCIA recently for the same reason you talk about for young adults. It is valuable to see well done examples of facing the dragons in our modern life in a saintly way. I also look forward to sharing it with my 15 year old son. Thank you for making me aware of this movie!

  • nanhood

    My sister and I were going to travel to St. Louis to see this movie when it was released, but our plans fell through… I am so excited that it is out on DVD now, and can’t wait to see it!! The next on my agenda is, The Way, which I did see, and will be released the end of March!
    Thank you for this opportunity to win this wonderful disk!

  • David Loftus

    Thank goodness for DVDs. Here in the wilderness of South Texas very few movies like this ever get to the theaters. And thanks for the review Peggy!

  • walt71

    Sounds like a very interesting film.

  • I had hoped to catch this movie in the theater, so I’m excited for its DVD release. Though I’m not currently a member of Opus Dei I’m a big fan of St. Josemaria and have friends in the organization. The historical setting also fascinates me. My grandfather fought in the Spanish Civil War but would never speak about it.


  • dbtx

    Sounds like a very good movie.

  • gawidow

    I took of my teenagers to see this. My 14 year old son thought that it was the best movie he had seen in a long time. He still talks about it. Every movie he has seen since he has commented on how it wasn’t as good as “There Be Dragons”. I know he will want to see it again. My 16 year old daughter found it disturbing. It is definitely more of a guy movie with all the war scenes.

  • mommad

    It sounds wonderful, and we would love to show this for the young adults in our parish! Thank you for the opportunity.

  • jmjgo

    Am excited this film is finally available on DVD. Our town is too small for these type films to come to theaters. I was able to see the trailer online and am glad the life of another saint is depicted on film, as well as, the incorporation of historical aspects, in this case about the Spanish Civil War. Having lived there for a few years and getting only snipets of the conflict and visiting the Valley of the Fallen, this just might stir up a new interest to do more investigation. These kinds of historical fiction films make spending time in front of a screen justifiable ! I use the “In Conversation with God” meditations every day, so am looking forward to seeing another aspect of the inspiration for these books.

  • chobbs

    I missed the movie in the theater because it only ran one weekend. I am so looking forward to seeing it and sharing it with the ladies in my Bible study group, Women of Grace.

  • soulanddivinity

    I thank God that there are many inspired people to tell the stories of those many saints, faithful Catholics and defenders of the faith through media. Movies are a great way to evangelize those who may not know Christ! I hope that I am able to see this movie because unfortunately I had a ministry event when this movie was being shown in my town last year.

  • sgreve

    Can’t wait to see this movie… St. Josemaria Escriva is one of my most favorite saints. His quotes used in the meditations “In Conversation with God” bring new perspective to the life of a child of God. I can’t wait to share this movie with my children.

  • Rita Foran

    I have been wanting to know more about St. Josemaria Escriva. I would love to see this DVD.

  • tanu6

    I would love to see this movie. I haven’t had an opportunity as I live in Mexico. However, two years ago during Christmas, I was in Lujan, Argentina, where part of the movie was made. I fell in love with the Basilica of Lujan, built in honour of the Virgin of Lujan, as well as the whole area and I would really like to revisit it through the movie.

  • mbland

    I missed seeing the movie in theaters and am excited that it’s coming out on DVD.

  • chaco

    I’m not familiar with this saint but I definitely love to share in the experiences of the fellow faithful. Guadalupe is a favorite devotion of mine and I’m sure it was instrumental in the making of this saint.

  • phoenix63

    Great to hear there are movies being made that let us see modern day saints and heroes of the faith. That really makes it easier to connect with them, especially a younger audience that have so few examples of virtue in the vast majority of movies and tv shows available today.

  • sciencehenry

    I have been wanting to see this movie for awhile. I have a very active life as a teacher, and I am very active in my parish so I don’t see a movie unless I am sure it will be worthwhile. Thanks to your review, I believe that this is one I should put on my “must see”list.

  • lambmomma

    Sounds like a great family movie night movie! We are always looking for great catholic movies for our family – thanks for the review – can’t wait to see it!

  • The winners for this contest are listed below and should be receiving their notification email shortly. If you don’t see it, check your spam folder or send your mailing address to me at

    Per the contest rules above, winners must reply with a mailing address by Jan 23rd or a new winner will be selected.

    Thank you for participating and look for more contests in the future!

    Congratulations to the winners:

  • I have mailed out 4 DVDs but still do not have the mailing address for the person with the user name CHACO. I have sent multiple emails to the address you have linked to your user name but your one reply did not include your mailing address. Please send an email to with your mailing address by the end of today, Jan 23rd, per the original contest rules and the notification emails I have sent, or I will regrettably have to choose another winner. I hope to hear from you today!