Brimstone & Glory – Movie Review

Brimstone & Glory
Release Date: 2017

Last night I walked out of the Missouri Theater with a big dumb grin on my face. It was hard not to feel like a child in awe after a film that essentially delivered on the fairytale promise of what watching fireworks is like for the young.

Brimstone and Glory depicts the town of Tultepec in Mexico during it’s annual festival for San Juan de Dios, the patron saint of fireworks manufacturers. Tultepec is the capitol of fireworks in Mexico, and that makes it pretty high on the list world-wide. The whole town seems to walk on eggshells in the excitement leading up to the event. The danger associated with the preparation of live incendiary is readily apparent. The whole town feels like it could ignite, both literally and metaphorically.

Brimstone and Glory spends about half of its running time in that state of inertia. We watch as fathers cautiously watch their sons pack explosives, learning the family business. We see the point of view of a man as he climbs the tall matchstick like tower that will ultimately be lit on the day known as the “Castles of Fire”. Paper thin sculptures of bulls are built on spindly metal and wood skeletons to run in the parade of the bulls that takes place the following day.

Forgive the pun, but the whole town seems ready to explode.

And when it does, the cameras capture what can be described as nothing less than magic. Never were slow motion shots from drones better employed than to capture the blazing marvels that are those castles of fire when they spark with energy. The whole second half of the film is nothing short of a visual feast. You can’t help but be entranced.

For those that are wondering, no, Brimstone and Glory doesn’t depict or even reference the 2016 mishap in Tultepec, where the market place for fireworks tragically caught fire. It seems that event occurred later. But the danger is present throughout this film nonetheless. The film seeks to heighten your awareness of this danger at every step, but also goes to great lengths to explain why the people of Tultepec do this anyways. It’s in their blood. It’s in their soul. Watching this film, it’s difficult not to feel it in your soul as well. I know I’ve added this event to my bucket list. But even if I never manage to witness the spectacle first hand, Brimstone and Glory has given me at least a taste.

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