Movie screenshots courtesy of Dominican Province of the PhilippinesTHE THOMASIAN community now has a “reel-life” evidence of how the Order of Preachers became the stronghold of Catholic faith.

The Dominican Province of the Philippines gave tribute to the Dominican order, which is set to mark its 800th anniversary in 2016, by producing the first full-length feature film on St. Dominic de Guzman.

The film, Dominic: Light of the Church (Lumen Ecclesiae), premiered last December 11 at the Medicine Auditorium and zeroes in on the life of St. Dominic de Guzman and the beginnings of the religious order he founded.

Starting from the childhood of St. Dominic, the film tells the story of a boy who grows up and studies in the monastery of Palencia, Spain at such a young age.

His journey of preaching starts when he accompanies the Bishop of Osma to travel to the kingdom of Castille. There, he encounters heretics who erroneously preach the word of God.

During a meeting with the bishops in Rome to counter the growing sect of heretics, the bishops agree to send Dominic to lead a mission of preachers who will travel across Europe, using the concept of Vita Apostolica. The preachers embrace three principles: evangelical poverty, passionate love for souls, and close study and preaching of God’s Word.

Like the Apostles, the band of brothers, rallied by St. Dominic, start their mission, bringing only their staff and travelling robes and sandals. For their food, they depend on the generosity of people to whom they preach. To better cover more ground, the group of clergymen split up and eventually call themselves the Order of Preachers.

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Cinematography is top quality due to the use of high-technology equipment. But the film could have enhanced its realism had the dialogue been in authentic Spanish and French rather than in English. In any case, the actors are obviously continental Europeans and have a difficulty speaking in English.

Despite the panoramic shots of landscapes, the cinematography and editing tend to linger too much, so that the audience may lose sight of the narrative.

Still, the film is faithful to the main points of the life of St. Dominic.

Spiritual experience

For Fr. Christopher Jeffrey Aytona, O.P., executive producer the film is the product of “Divine Providence”.

The idea for the film was hatched during the 40th anniversary of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, when the movie on the life of the founder of the Order of Preachers to mark the eighth centenary of the Dominicans was proposed and approved.

“I was thinking of what would be a good proposal for the activities of the Dominican Province of the Philippines and I thought that there hasn’t been a movie of St. Dominic made before,” said Aytona. “I sent my proposal to the Roman Curia (the administrative department of the Vatican) and they approved.”

Although the film’s technical crew is all-Filipino, including first-time director Fr. Marcelino Saria, O.P., the production got assistance from Dominican establishments all over the world.

Aytona said the production of the movie was a spiritual experience.

“After every shoot, we felt like we were in a recollection,” Aytona, a UST Communication Arts graduate, said. “The production seemed like a two-month retreat for the staff with St. Dominic as our retreat master.”

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Aytona said the crew shot the film in places where St. Dominic actually travelled in his preaching, in order to give audiences a feel of the authentic.

But the production was not totally problem-free because of limited resource. It was also difficult looking for actors.

“We went to Madrid to look for actors, especially for the main character,” he said. “The mayor there even helped us look for actors and even put up posters for an audition.”

Aytona said the movie seeks to bring a new perspective to the life of St. Dominic.

“The purpose is to introduce St. Dominic (to the younger generations),” he said.

The movie seeks to make St. Dominic relevant to the times, he added. Robin G. Padilla

1 COMMENT

  1. I am really glad to learn about the this film on St. Dominic. There may be a number of order of preachers but everyone should preach Jesus Christ; who he is and what he has done for the mankind. Believers around the world preach Jesus; why has has done for and what he has done on the cross for us. It is a nice discussion. bollywood clips

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