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Monsenor: The Last Journey of Oscar Romero

Release Year:      2010
Studio:      First Run Features
Format:      Colour; NTSC; Subtitled; Widescreen
Rated:      Not Rated
# of Discs:      1
Running Time:      98 minutes
DVD Release Date:      March 20, 2012

Directors:      Ana Carrigan, Juliet Weber
Actors:      Archbishop Oscar Romero, Father Rutilio Grande, Eliud Porras, Ricardo Urioste, Manuel Quijano
DVD Features:      In Spanish with English subtitles; Bonus Materials: Comprehensive study guide
E:Top Picks Rating:      10/10

First Run Features Write-up: 
In 1970s El Salvador, one man was the voice of the poor, the disenfranchised, and the Disappeared, willing to stand up to a corrupt government. Appointed Archbishop in 1977, Monsenor Oscar Romero worked tirelessly and in constant personal peril until the day he was assassinated in 1980.

Using the power of the pulpit, Romero delivered messages of hope in weekly sermons which became national events. Encouraging direct action against the often violent oppression, Romero’s speaking touched millions and impacted political events in El Salvador that still have meaning to this day.

With rare recordings and film footage and a wide range of interviews from those whose lives were changed by Romero, including church activists, human rights lawyers, former guerrilla fighters and politicians, MONSENOR is a timely portrait of one man’s quest to speak the truth even as doing so cost him his life.

Jon Ted Wynne Review: 
One of the most spiritually profound and moving films to come along in ages, MONSENOR: THE LAST JOURNEY OF OSCAR ROMERO is a low-key but cumulatively powerful documentary. It is a long overdue examination of one of the 20th-Century’s most significant and possibly most overlooked Christian martyrs, Monsenor Oscar Romero of El Salvador.

Standing up alongside Gandhi as an exemplary example of passive resistance to injustice, Romero’s legacy in El Salvador continues to this day.

Filmmakers Ana Carrigan and Juliet Weber have created a heart-felt, moving, deeply personal yet somehow also objective portrait of a man whose principles and beliefs they clearly admire. Numerous interviews with Romero followers are enough to persuade the viewer that their subject was truly an inspiration. Hearing excerpts from his own recorded diary further cements this impression, thereby adding to the sense of outrage many felt at his murder by the corrupt Revolutionary Government Junta. How, for example, could anyone live their life on a daily basis serving others with humility, selflessness and caring when they are fully aware that their own life is in constant peril? Oscar Romero was such a man.

In El Salvador in the 1970s, assassination, along with disappearances, torture and terrorism, was the norm. The fact that Oscar Romero knew it was only a matter of time before he was killed serves to illustrate his deep commitment to his people through the Liberation Theology he preached so powerfully. He surely knew his actions could have only one outcome in a country so politically committed to subduing and exploiting its citizenry. There is a reason why Romero is currently under consideration for Sainthood by the Catholic Church.

The political implications in this film are not pleasant to consider. Romero was critical of the United States’ support for the military government. President Carter ignored Romero’s written entreaties that the U.S. cease their support of the corrupt government. Just how much of a hand did the United States have in Romero’s death? This question isn’t asked but it is clearly implied. It’s a sobering thought.

In 1989 Raul Julia starred in a biographical film depicting Archbishop Romero’s life and death. Though a fine subject for dramatized biography, this outstanding documentary reminds the viewer that there is nothing more powerful than the real thing.

Romero’s life and martyrdom are an inspiration. Thankfully, so is this documentary.