I must admit, I had a semester's worth of Jesuit exposure while at the Ateneo de Manila University but I didn't use that opportunity to explore who St Ignatius of Loyola was... Except to know that the campus was named after him. So when I saw Tony's shared post about a movie on the saint's life, to be shown at the Ateneo High School, I wished that the movie have a wider release... Because I couldn't watch on the school's film showing schedule. Wish granted... I heard that the film was to be shown in selected cinemas this week. Naturally, I took the first opportunity I got. (I went to the cinema right after I dropped by the French school).
I don't think that what follows are spoilers because the story is widely published. So here we go: The movie was about the life of Iñigo before he established the Jesuit order. Like many of the other saints, he wasn't such a straight-laced guy at the beginning... In fact, he was a soldier who hungered for death in the battlefield. He almost got what he wished for when Pamplona was overrun by the French. But he survived and was brought back to Loyola to recuperate. He didn't fully heal, though. With a limp that made him virtually useless in battle, he opted to live the life of a hermit, a beggar, and a nurse to the sick. His faith was forged through spiritual exercises, meditations which he prescribed to whoever listened to him. Of course the more conventional Church leaders had to verify if what he was teaching was following Church teachings. A tribunal in Salamanca found him innocent on charges of heresy but guilty of preaching without enough prior education. And so the movie ended with him embarking on a journey to Paris to study (theology, I assume). Eventually, he and his companions in the Jesuit order became missionaries to the rest of the world through educational institutions.
The movie is such a fascinating take on St Ignatius' journey... Paolo Dy handled the material really well, almost like a gift or a piece of treasure. It helped that the movie was shot in Spain, giving it a rich atmosphere. It also helped that Ryan Cayabyab's musical score, performed by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic under the baton of Gerald Salonga, added texture to the scenes. Yes, this movie had a lot of talented Pinoys behind the lens... Oh, only just the best of them. I was so impressed by the quality of the work that I watched til the last of the credits rolled and the screen faded to black... Even when I knew there'd be no post-credit scene. Plus it wasn't just me; many audience members sat through the credits too. Finally, it definitely helped that the guy who played Iñigo (Andreas Muñoz) was handsome, easy on the eyes, and looked like a saint (based on how saints are commonly portrayed in paintings and sculptures).
My favourite scene in all this? When Jesus appeared during the end of Iñigo's meditation, bringing peace to the soldier's mind. The latter felt he was unworthy but Jesus comforted him, whispering, "I loved you first."
Ad majorem Dei gloriam.