If you’re anything like Empire, then you’ll know only the following about Catholic Church organisation, Opus Dei:
a) It was featured in The Da Vinci Code, involved Paul Bettany flogging himself, and looked slightly shady
Naturally, there’s more to it than albinos hitting themselves with homemade switches and Alfred Molina scheming to do whatever the hell it was he was doing (we’ve tried to banish The Da Vinci Code from our minds as best as we can, but it keeps provoking 3am sweats), and Opus Dei is keen that you should know that.
Which is why they’ve recruited Roland Joffe, director of The Mission and The Killing Fields, to make There Be Dragons, a biopic of Opus Dei founder, Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, which promises to give the much-maligned organisation, erm, a fair crack of the whip.
Escriva, who died in 1973, is the most recently deceased Saint (he was canonised by Pope John Paul II in 2002). He founded Opus Dei, which was ‘a new lay movement through which Catholics might learn to sanctify themselves without abandoning secular life’ (thanks, Wikipedia!), in 1928. It became a prelature in 1982, and now has around 87,000 members around the world.
He’ll be played in There Be Dragons (an abbreviation of ‘here there be dragons’, a phrase used to denote a move into dangerous territory) by Stardust’s Charlie Cox, while Olga Kurylenko continues her eclectic post-Bond career by also joining the cast.
Though it will be interesting to see if the movie touches upon any of the controversies that haunted Escriva at certain points of his life, including alleged statements about Hitler and Spanish dictator General Franco that were less than condemnatory. However, it appears that these were mere storms in a teacup, and were dismissed before his canonisation.
Still, given that Opus Dei is funding the movie, there’s always a danger that There Be Dragons could turn out to be, essentially, a feature-length promotional video that starts with the words, ‘You! Yes, You! Would you like to know more about Opus Dei? Then follow me!’). But representatives of the organisation, on the film’s set, have spoken to The Hollywood Reporter and given assurances that Joffe has a free hand.
Of course, that remains to be seen. It’s also unclear which Joffe will turn up – the gifted director who took potentially tricky subject matter in The Mission and turned it into a sumptuous epic, or the guy whose last two films have been a tawdry torture porn rip-off (Captivity, in 2007) and a demented drama featuring the unholy combination of Mischa Barton and t.A.T.u. (2008’s You And I).
Filming is taking place in Lujan, near Buenos Aires, which is standing in for 1930s Madrid.