The memories of the Civil war are vivid in Spain, and a new movie, There Be Dragons explores them. Roland Joffe, an agnostic, (The Mission, The Killing Fields), directed it. He is aiming for a Palm Sunday, 2011 release. The movie is intense. 

The plot is that two friends who grow up and take different paths, one a soldier and killer during the war and the other Josémaria, who founds Opus Dei. 

Americans know almost nothing about the Spanish Civil war, although it was the dress rehearsal for World War II. At most they have read For Whom the Bell Tolls. 

Any war is terrible, but a civil war in which friend kills friend, neighbor kills neighbor, brother kills brother is perhaps the worst.


Political violence increased in Spain throughout the 1930s – murder became a favored political weapon. Before the 1936 elections, both sides announced that they would refuse to accept the results if the other side won. The Left narrowly won and began an orgy of church burnings and killing. Franco and the generals led a Nationalist armed rebellion against the Leftist Republic and began an orgy of killing. 

The German Nazis and Italian Fascists backed Franco and bombed Guernica and Barcelona; the Communists backed the Republic and soon began killing their Socialist and Anarchist allies. Franco won and killed scores of thousands of leftists – and some priests who tried to stop the Nationalist atrocities. 

Will Spain ever really recover? 

Will other countries go down the same path, or I should say, continue to go down that path? We have seen Cambodia and Rwanda and Bosnia. Where else can it happen? Can it happen again in Europe, or here? Human nature contains dragons, and they may one day devour us.

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