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For Greater Glory (Cristiada)
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
James Horner

Co-Orchestrated by:
J.A.C. Redford
Randy Kerber
Jon Kull

Co-Produced by:
Simon Rhodes

Notable Solo Performances by:
Clara Sanabras

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
October 2nd, 2012

Also See:
The Four Feathers
Black Gold
The Legend of Zorro
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Tailor of Panama

Audio Clips:
2. The Death of Padre Christopher (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

7. "Men Will Fire Bullets, But God Decides Where They Land" (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

11. Jose's Martyrdom (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

13. Cristeros (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release.


For Greater Glory (Cristiada)
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Buy it... if you seek to supplement your James Horner collection with more of his predictable historical drama mode, this time highlighted by distinctive female vocal solos of gorgeous lament.

Avoid it... if the last thing you need is yet another chapter in a continuing nightmare of Horner self-referencing that is worthy of ridicule for its fundamental stagnation of substance.

For Greater Glory (Cristiada): (James Horner) While Mexico's dominant Catholicism is accepted by today's society as a basic facet of that country's society, relatively few realize that the Christians of Mexico fought in a popular uprising during the 1920's to preserve their faith. An atheistic Mexican president acted upon anti-Catholic provisions in the 1917 Mexican Constitution to quell the influence of the Church in Mexico, his armed forces killing Catholic officials and destroying churches at will. In 1927, a rebellion of the people resulted, with nearly 100,000 killed in the resulting war. A peace brokered in part by Americans brought the conflict to an official end in 1929, but rural persecution continued throughout the 1930's. The 2012 film Cristiada, shot in English and recognized instead as For Greater Glory internationally, dramatized several individual stories against the backdrop of the conflict to teach about its events through an unambiguously pro-Catholic lens. The directorial debut of special effects master Dean Wright, For Greater Glory is inspired by Jean Meyer's 1976 book "The Cristero Rebellion" and took three years to produce in Mexico, luring a few international stars in the process (including Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, and Peter O'Toole). The narrative follows several rebels in their efforts to fight federal forces, most of them meeting unfortunate ends. The movie received only mixed reviews, partly because of its rather overwhelming Catholicism for some (one reviewer twisted this focus into a positive by suggesting the film as a potential antidote for American President Barack Obama's "anti-religious" efforts regarding contraception in 2012), and it failed to recoup its budget despite performing well in Mexico upon its debut. For composer James Horner, the project represented yet another opportunity to write music for an obscure docudrama, a habit of his personal choice since shunning most blockbuster movie opportunities in the 2000's. His music for projects such as Black Gold and For Greater Glory offer lushly romanticized London recordings to these historical ethnic struggles, likely representing a fair portion of the production budgets for their respective films. Horner's stylistic approach to these occasions isn't radically different from his normal output; in fact, they tend to recycle from his previous scores more often than not. Still, it remains a pleasure to hear one of the industry's "old guard" composers expanding upon the sound of orchestral traditions in this day and age.

As applicable to most Horner scores since the 1990's, there is a sense of familiarity to his work that will guide nearly all opinions about it. No exception is For Greater Glory, which churns through countless Horner techniques and motifs from the past thirty years without shame or restraint. Remarkably little in this work is fresh, and even those portions that are seem reminiscent of other composers' achievements. To a Horner detractor, For Greater Glory is yet another chapter in a continuing nightmare worthy of ridicule for its fundamental stagnation of substance. Conversely, those who appreciate the composer's lush romanticism and propulsive action styles will find the score a very worthy addition to their Horner collections. All will recognize the players involved. The full London orchestra is accented by the composer's typical exotic woodwinds and, in this case, the acoustic guitars from his "Zorro" scores. Chimes denote both the bells of Catholic churches when tolling and his more typical sense of gravity when rolling. Snare drums rip away with Glory in the rearview mirror. The children's ensemble voices have moved away from the cooing of Horner's early days and lightly chant in a Titanic-like processed way. A Paraguayan harp has less of an impact than hoped. The most notable textural element of For Greater Glory is the application of solo voices. In The Amazing Spider-Man shortly following this score, Horner utilized a boy soprano and operatic female with the emphasis on the former; in For Greater Glory, that formula is switched, with two notable boy soprano performances but a plethora of very alluring contributions by Clara Sanabras that dominate score's identity. Her tone is reminiscent of that heard in the concluding "Todavia Cantamos" performance in Shaun Davey's The Tailor of Panama. These performers tackle structures that will recall a wide range of other Horner scores in every part of the work. The three major themes are stock manipulations, one of which obnoxiously identical to a previous score. The battle music in "Ambush," "A Bullet on the Floor," and "Cristeros" remains effective despite their derivative and generic nature. Snippets ranging from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to Glory, The Mask of Zorro to Avatar, and beyond are littered throughout For Greater Glory. There's even a foreshadowing nod to the main theme of The Amazing Spider-Man at 5:26 into "General Gorostieta." Distracting as these references may be, it's remarkable that For Greater Glory still stands in the end as a satisfying reprise.

As mentioned previously, there exist three major themes in For Greater Glory, as well as two motifs of danger that intertwine frequently. It's difficult to label any one of the frequently recurring themes as the "main" identity, for Horner alternates their usage in nearly equal quantities. All three are clearly delineated in succession in "Just Another Chapter of History (Closing Credits)." Arguably the heart of the score is the religious theme of hope that brackets the score and features the melancholy female vocals in most of its recurrences. Secondary is a love theme that is a dead ringer for The Four Feathers, proving, like Avatar and others, that Horner is simply obsessed with his ideas from that score. Developing later into a dominant identity is the rebels' victory theme, a series of descending phrases of high drama that sound like the interlude sequence of several other Horner melodies. Most memorable is the religious theme, though, climbing the musical ranks to emulate the aspirations of the freedom fighters and featuring a lovely and heartbreakingly lush interlude sequence of typical Horner melodrama from the 1990's. Its opening bars have a vague resemblance to The Prince of Egypt, however. Aided by tolling chimes, the solo female vocals introduce the idea at the outset of "Entre La Luz y El Pecado," a cue that continues the theme with the children's ensemble after a preview of the love theme. Continued solo renditions in "The Death of Padre Christopher" include an urgent performance at 3:07 and one of solace at 8:06. Disillusioned versions in "We're Cristeros Now" open the cue and return at the 1:13 mark. The theme is manipulated with disturbing children's voices in the first half of "The Dead City" before straight forward woodwind brevity; the troubled vocals are revisited in the middle of that long cue. That usage is heard again at 0:55 into "Jose Saves Catorce," followed by a solo horn rendition. The theme's most impactful performances come in "Jose's Martyrdom," in which the female solo opens the lament and is followed at 1:56 by a broader and slower performance by all vocal elements together. The boy soprano sequence for the themes' interlude in this cue is not to be missed. "Death" begins in similar fashion to the previous cue, but the religious theme of hope morphs into the victory theme quite effectively before returning to its roots at the 1:37 mark. During the battle in "Cristeros," a noble brass version of the idea interrupts the ruckus at 5:52. Finally, the theme brackets the "Closing Credits" in both solo and string formats, closing the score in the same way it began. As is usually the case, the mourning female element is nothing less than gorgeous.

The second of the three major themes presented by Horner in For Greater Glory is the "Goro and Tula" love theme represented best by a soft, suite-like arrangement in that cue. The composer changes the progressions of this obvious reprise from The Four Feathers with only a twisted accent of one note in its second phrase at times. Its introduction at 1:07 in "Entre La Luz y El Pecado" will induce justified eye rolls, though by "Men Will Fire Bullets, But God Decides Where They Land," the maturation of the idea from exotic flute at the start of the cue to the massive ensemble performance over timpani rolls at 3:24 will overcome some of those misgivings of origin. The idea subsequently builds out of the religious hope theme over Glory snare rhythms at 1:25 into "Jose's Martyrdom" and equally pulsates (this time with voices as well) at 4:13 into "Cristeros." The exotic flute solo of the theme in that cue, as well as the several tender renditions in "Closing Credits," are redemptive. Thankfully, the rebels' victory theme is less taxing on the memory, Horner introducing it at 2:32 into "We're Cristeros Now" but wisely saving its major development for later. It congeals in "General Gorostieta" at 4:01, its longer lines supported by rhythmic string figures from Star Trek II. This performance also introduces a massive major/minor key shift after the theme to denote agony in the score. Dramatic strings and exotic woodwinds convey the idea at the start of "The Dead City," including another stark major/minor shift. Two full and melodramatic statements of the rebels' theme exist at 0:53 and 2:40 into "Men Will Fire Bullets, But God Decides Where They Land." Some flair from guitar assists in building the theme's heroism at 2:41 into "Ambush" and Horner weaves it in and out of the religious hope theme at 1:07 into "Death." The "Cristeros" battle cue features an optimistic reference to the theme on strings at 3:48 before a slower, pronounced statement of victory over resounding drums at 6:13, a highlight of the score. Its place in "Closing Credits" comes at 3:50, exotic flute and strings yielding to the children's ensemble in full. It should be noted that two uniquely upbeat themes function as singularities in the score as well. A buoyant idea for solo horn reminds of Horner's children's scores at 1:11 in "The Death of Padre Christopher" (with a downright beautiful expression just prior to the attack) and another interesting thematic reference (suggesting, of all things, Horner's Celtic scores, but without the region's instrumentation) out of the blue at 1:34 in "A Bullet on the Floor," featuring the somewhat abrasive mix of the children's choir. The innocence lost in the former, brief idea is more understandable than the somewhat awkward latter diversion.

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As expected, Horner can't let the occasion slip by without some references to his favorite representations of danger and evil. Two of these flourish throughout For Greater Glory, often paired together for maximum effect. The dreaded four-note motif of evil, most famous from Willow and a staple of Horner's career, is joined by a menacingly descending three-note motif that sometimes utilizes a rising fourth note to reset itself in a rhythm. You hear them previewed at the end of "Entre La Luz y El Pecado" before they explode in "The Death of Padre Christopher." In that cue, the descending three-note motif is heard twice at 0:53 before joining the other idea over the top at 2:38 and 4:41 in full evil mode. The descending idea ends the "Goro and Tula" suite on an understandably down note before exploding with the four-note motif in a massive outburst at 2:35 into "The Dead City." The four-note motif is brutally rhythmic in "Jose Saves Catorce" and the three-note descent answers in the middle of "Ambush" under accelerating snare and children's voice rhythms. The four-note motif of evil continues its role as a rhythmic pace-setter thereafter, at 1:22 into "A Bullet on the Floor" and 1:03 into "Cristeros." As in "Goro and Tula," the descending three-note motif closes out "Cristeros" and "Closing Credits" with reminders of dangers still to come. Horner often uses this technique in For Greater Glory, accurately suggesting more turmoil to come for Mexico. Overall, the score is respectfully beautiful and rhythmically engaging where necessary. He wisely lays off the bulk of the stereotypical Latin influence that defined his "Zorro" scores. The guitars' integration into the religious hope theme in "We're Cristeros Now" does remind of The Legend of Zorro, however, and even steals a few bars from that score's famous most cue, "The Train." Thereafter, the guitars only really make an impact in "Ambush," where they accent the rebels' theme well. When presented on the belated album, For Greater Glory features a number of very long cues, allowing the themes to develop into each other quite well. The opening and closing tracks do feature a few minutes of "tailing off" at the end, Horner filling space with quiet tolling and bass string whole notes. But the score as whole is typically very engaging and will impress any collector of the composer's works. From an analytical perspective, it is tempting to award For Greater Glory a three-star rating, for it accomplishes very little new for Horner outside of the lovely female vocals. But the composer once again executes his comfortable techniques with precision, overachieving for a relatively unknown film and resurrecting fond memories of his greater victories. As such, it scratches out a fourth star for listeners more forgiving of Horner's choices. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For James Horner reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.13 (in 98 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.19 (in 187,897 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.21 Stars
Smart Average: 3.2 Stars*
***** 51 
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*** 36 
** 26 
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    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 78:25

• 1. Entre La Luz y El Pecado (4:09)
• 2. The Death of Padre Christopher (10:10)
• 3. "We're Cristeros Now" (3:23)
• 4. Goro and Tula (4:32)
• 5. General Gorostieta (9:22)
• 6. The Dead City (8:03)
• 7. "Men Will Fire Bullets, But God Decides Where They Land" (4:23)
• 8. Jose Saves Catorce (3:22)
• 9. Ambush (4:49)
• 10. A Bullet on the Floor (3:07)
• 11. Jose's Martyrdom (4:06)
• 12. Death (2:22)
• 13. Cristeros (8:40)
• 14. Just Another Chapter of History (Closing Credits) (8:05)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from For Greater Glory (Cristiada) are Copyright © 2012, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/16/12 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2012-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.