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Archbishop Romero Movie Essays

Oscar Romero

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Oscar Romero was at first a quiet,

ordinary priest in the democratic country

of El Salvador. But things change once

newly appointed Arch-Bishop. Romero

quickly finds out the way the country is

run by the military. The poor people of

Salvador are missing and being

executed by the military. Romero tries to

stop these events through the power of

the Church.

Raul Julia plays Oscar Romero the soft

spoken priest turned Arch-Bishop. His

character goes through a

metamorphoses from beginning to end

that eventually gets him killed. The one

moment in time that really changes the

way he acts is the death of Father

Grande. Fr. Grande was a preacher to

the poor or anyone who wanted to listen

to the Word of the Lord. By the killing

and torturing of people Romero gets

very angry and says STOP! In one

scene while in prison listening to a

priest get tortured, he doesn’t

understand why one human being would

do this to another. We are all human and

why should their life be taken away if

they have done nothing.

The Church in this movie are people

very strong in their faith and stand up for

what they believe in. For example, When

the people of one city walk right into a

church that has been taken over by the

military. This shows their willingness to

die for God. Other acts show the people

of El Salvador courage and deep faith.

I thought that this was a very good movie. The

strong imagery and sadness that these events really

occur in El Salvador and other countries like it. The

words of Romero were inspiring, the way he

presented himself after every bad act by the military

he just turned the

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Oscar Romero         Things Change         Poor People         Other Cheek         El Salvador         Other Countries         Grande         Preacher        

123helpme.com/search.asp?text=other+cheek">other cheek. The pictures were

probably the most disturbing thing in the movie.

People with half of their face gone, limbs in all

different positions, just hit me like Wow! How could

a person do this and then live with themselves. The

strength of Oscar Romero gave me chills down my

spine. His acts of generosity, kindness, bravery and

sacrifice he truly did live the way God wanted him.

The assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, in 1980, provoked at the time the usual international reaction of shock and protest, which is to say, it was ignored by most people and quickly forgotten by many of the rest.

Such atrocities have become routine in many of the nations of Central and South America, and although it is comforting to dismiss them as the anarchic behavior of corrupt and bloodthirsty Latinos, there is often the hint of the unholy hand of the CIA somewhere in the shadows. America, land of the free, has an uncanny habit of picking the wrong side in Latin America.


Romero was shot to death while celebrating mass. He was, at the time, not only the spiritual leader of El Salvador's Catholics but one of the most outspoken critics of the government - a government portrayed in this film as little more than a holding company for the economic exploiters of the country. But Romero was not always a critic, and the movie follows his career from the day when he is selected as archbishop because he is considered a "safe" and "moderate" man who will not rock the boat.

The radicalization of Romero is shown in terms of his responses to a series of personal experiences. He counsels trust, but then he sees deception. He would like to consider the government honest, but he is lied to. He sees the evidence of murder and repression, and he cannot ignore it any longer. His conscience eventually requires him to speak out against a government that is denying basic human freedoms to its citizens.

Romero is portrayed in the film by Raul Julia, who plays him as a reasonable, thoughtful man, slow to anger, willing to see both sides.

This is a Romero who must have seemed like a safe choice to the rulers of El Salvador and their sponsors. His conversion into a critic of the government is seen almost entirely in theological, not political terms; he takes his stands not because he is a leftist but because he is a Christian.

The movie was produced by an agency of the Paulist Fathers, a Roman Catholic order of teachers and communicators, and it was financed in part by Catholics (although it is not an official church production). Perhaps that is why it sees Romero as essentially a religious, not a political man.

The issue of "liberation theology" is not addressed as such in the movie - perhaps in deference to the establishment of Rome, which in Latin America very much believes in rendering onto Caesar that which is Caesar's (sometimes, this movie hints, in preference to rendering onto God that which is God's). But there is no doubt what the film, and Romero, believe in: free elections, the right to form labor unions, land reform, free speech, freedom from unreasonable search, seizure and murder.

The film has a good heart, and the Julia performance is an interesting one, restrained and considered. His Romero is not a firebrand but a reasonable man who cannot deny the evidence of his eyes and his conscience. The film's weakness is a certain implacable predictability: We can feel at every moment what must happen next, and the over-all trajectory of the film seems ordained even in the first few shots. As a result, the film doesn't stir many passions, and it seems more sorrowing than angry. Romero was a good man, he did what his heart told him to do and he died for his virtues. It is a story told every day in Latin America.


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