Review this movie
Mar 5, 2011A beautiful film. Probably helps just a bit if you're Catholic, but the ecumenical spirit among the priests & their Muslim neighbors is refreshing. Finally, we see monks/missionaries/priests in a positive light. Amazing courage in the face of irrational danger. Of the 30+ people in my theater, maybe 8 walked out before it was over - it can be a little slow at times. But it works! Inspirational.
Apr 20, 2011The most spiritual and uplifting movie in quite a while. And if you don't like spiritual then how about charity and duty to one's fellow man. It's probably too slow paced for many young people but not for those who are wondering about their souls. Eight Trappist monks have to face up to the probability that their lives are in mortal danger if they stay in their monastery in Algeria, which is being ripped apart by a civil war between a secular Muslim government and extremists. How they come individually to their decisions is explored steadily over the movie's length. We see how they live and most importantly how they interweave almost seamlessly with their Arab neighbors. As they abjure from proselytizing and offer medical, farming, and other social needs they are respected. But they are Christians and they are foreigners and the extremists view them with at least a very jaundiced eye, and at most with evil intent. This is not a movie about terrorists, nor a movie about Frenchmen, but about faith and a deep sense of duty to that faith. It's not a movie just for Christians or even Catholics, it's a movie for all faiths and creeds as it speaks to the fundamental question of our role on earth: what is our purpose?… Collapse
Jul 6, 2014Of Gods and Men explores a variety of complex religious themes and ideas through the re-telling of a true story of a group of French monks caught up in the Algerian civil war. The film is not a simplistic showcase of good versus evil but is instead a deeply human tale of tolerance, fear and strength. No character falls into the trap of caricature, even the terrorists have depth and motive. The believability of the characters creates a realness that makes the film a more powerful emotional experience.
The film begins by introducing us to the monks. The monastery in which they live is a quiet place and their routines consist of tending to the gardens, reading, praying and interacting with the Muslim townsfolk. Importantly one of the monks, Luc (Michael Lonsdale) acts as the town doctor. The relationship between the monks and the townsfolk is one of mutual respect and friendship. The cinematography is gorgeous, capturing the natural beauty of the landscape and the simplistic beauty of the monastery.
The monk’s peaceful existence is shaken when word reaches the town that Islamist militants are taking over the countryside. The slow pace of the opening half is so calming that when violence breaks out the audience shares the peoples shock and worry.
It becomes immediately apparent that the monk’s lives are in danger. The monk’s world slowly comes crumbling down around their epicentre which is the monastery. The French government and Algerian officials urge them to escape while the town’s people plead for them not to abandon them. The group of monks is dividend on what decision to make. Difficult questions cause repressed raw emotions to bubble to the surface. Is it okay to accept help from a corrupt government? When is it acceptable for the Sheppard to leave his flock? What good does martyrdom do?
The group is rightly afraid and sometimes the fear takes control. Lambert Wilson (playing Christian) delivers a fine performance as a man struggling with leadership in a harrowing situation. The first confrontation scene is truly terrific, with trembling Christian putting on a brave face, a combination of fear and determination.
It is hard not to be emotional for the second half of the film. The monk’s moral presence is felt ubiquitously. In every act of violence or cruelty, whether on screen or off, the monk’s sadness permeates from the screen. The honesty of the characters naturally draws the audience’s empathy. There is a specific scene which I will not reveal in which the worldly combines with the spiritual that results in one of the most powerful emotional climaxes I have ever seen.
I highly recommend viewing this film regardless of one’s religious beliefs or background. The film shows both the good that can be achieved through belief as well as the bad. Luc quotes Pascal to remind us that “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction”. The message the film preaches transcends any specific faith as it is one of love, peace, acceptance and harmony.… Expand
Feb 14, 2013I've heard that of Gods and Men is a boring movie, especially in reference to certain interminable scenes of rituals of daily monastic life. Psychological rituals are things you do again and again to reduce anxiety. Anthropological rituals are means of creating cohesive groups. Are we getting closer to the meaning of life? A Zen quote: "A finger pointing to the moon is not the moon". The rituals in this film are potentially signs pointing to the far more complex signified of the daily ritual enacted between the french Monastary and the Algerian town surrounding. The townspeople rely on the monastary for medical care, and more abstractly, just to be there. Holy men are supposed to keep what is holy holy. When the mujahadeen come, the head monk Christian says they are not allowed into the monastery. When they demand medicine, he says there is no medicine for them. There are no guns allowed in the monastary, and the medicine is for the townspeople. What is holy must be kept holy. But they'll be back. The monks have to decide if the ritual is holy enough to die for. There's a vote; it's split between monks who want to stay and those who want to leave. Christian is undecided. "We are like birds on a branch," says one monk to a townsperson birds who don't know if they will fly away or stay". The townsperson responds: "We are the birds; you are the branch. If you leave, we lose our footing." Falling birds: the unholiness of it is intolerable. Christian decides to stay, and tries to persuade the rest of the monks to do the same. You do not know if he is doing the right thing. Ambiguity is usually not cinematic. In this movie, it is. amm http://www.circularsongs.com … Expand