This excellent drama depicts the last three years in the life of the Salvadoran bishop who became archbishop in 1977 and was assassinated on March 24, 1980, in San Salvador's Divine Providence Hospital Chapel. In this stirring work written by John Sacret Young, creator of the China Beach television series, and directed by Australian John Duigan, we see the radicalization of a moderate Catholic intellectual as he is exposed to the violence and human suffering in his country.
Raul Julia puts in a well-modulated performance as this man of God who is emboldened to take a stand by shocking events, including the death squad assassination of a colleague (Richard Jordan), the murder by torture of another priest (Alejandro Bracho), and the killing of a young woman leader of a Christian base community (Lucia Reina). Although Romero begins his service as archbishop with the support of the rich and powerful Catholics of El Salvador's ruling class, including the wife of the Minister of Agriculture (Ana Alicia), near the end of his life he has evolved into an outspoken advocate of the poor and oppressed peasants.
Time and time again, the Archbishop celebrates the Eucharist in the face of terror, demonstrating how faith can be a source of renewal and can create strength through solidarity. Romero signs his own death warrant when he makes a radio broadcast advising military conscripts to follow their conscience if ordered to terrorize the poor.
Romero was the first theatrical film produced by Paulist Pictures. Father Ellwood Kieser described the film as the drama of "a mouse of a man who became a tiger struggling for justice and defending the rights of his people. He knew his defiance of the military and denunciation of the oligarchy would cost him his life. Yet he chose to go ahead. His is a story of contemporary Christian heroism." We agree.