Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.
In 1996, in Algeria, eight French monks of The Monastery Notre-Dame de l'Atlas of Tibhirine have a simple life serving the poor community that was raised around the monastery. During the Algerian Civil War, they are threatened by terrorists but they decide to stay in the country and not return to France. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When Luc leans against the painting, his face and left hand touch it noticeably higher in the close-up than during the preceding shot. See more »
Should it ever befall me, and it could happen today, to be a victim of the terrorism swallowing up all foreigners here, I would like my community, my church, my family, to remember that my life was given to God and to this country. That the Unique Master of all life was no stranger to this brutal departure. And that my death is the same as so many other violent ones, consigned to the apathy of oblivion. I've lived enough to know, I am complicit in the evil that, alas, prevails over ...
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Depending on your prejudices and perspectives this will be either wondrous to behold or deadly dull. At opposite ends if you're an impatient atheist you won't get much out of this maybe apart from admiring all the languorous panoramic views of bits of Algeria, contemplative chanting and emotive acting. Maybe! If you're a tolerant Christian it will be an engrossing journey full of deep inner meanings, rustling cassocks and dogs barking in the unidirectional distance. Maybe not! One side can fume at perceived do-gooders soft on Evil - whatever that might be, the other will rejoice in the perceived moral and intellectual superiority of their religion - whatever that might be. I try to tread the Middle Way: a well meaning well made film of a group of men saddled with a big problem: religions.
True story of a band of monks minding their own business and their flock while getting gradually caught up in civil war, their inner anguish over whether to stay or leave and of course, ours. Christianity might have progressed slightly since the Dark Ages, but it still seems overall the motto of religion is Gotta Kill the film reaffirms the view it's so much easier to destroy than create, these monks tried to create good around them but as usual were beaten by the forces of Satan. When will the world's working class or people with no money at all stop killing the world's working class or people with no money at all? What difference did the murder of tens of millions of old men make to the battalions of our Betters in WW2? The monks' inter-relationships were well shown, tender respect at (nearly) all times but imho unfortunately and unintentionally occasionally bordering to those evinced by the 7 Dwarfs to each other in Snow White. A lot of little things happen and add up during the 2 hours (reminiscent of some of Akira Kurosawa's classics), one of the most poignant for me being Christian's spectacles steaming up with the emotion at being part of the simple camaraderie at the supper table. The film's end was poignant too but the real ending was only alluded to, as it probably wasn't on-message! Forgive my flippancy but I know for a solid fact true believers are too holy to be nasty to me and true deniers shouldn't care at all.
The copy I watched had small arty Times font English subtitles but not too irritating. Was it worth the time and cost to me or not? Yes - remember it's a true story - it's thoughtful and thought provoking, maybe not in ways it was meant to but the only thing I can advise to do is settle down and see what you think. If you're in a somnolent posture you probably won't make it to the end though!
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