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|Index||70 reviews in total|
70 out of 88 people found the following review useful:
French monks in a catholic monastery Algeria have to decide whether to stay or go back to France., 10 September 2010
Author: Vehrlah from Zürich, Switzerland
This film appealed to me in several ways. I liked the direct, intimate
approach in the way it was filmed. It was very refreshing to see hymns
used as a big part of the soundtrack, very different as to what you
usually hear :)
In the cinema where i was watching the film, the average age must have been a lot higher than usual, and a few seats away, someone was even quietly singing along with some of the hymns, very bizarre feeling in a cinema!!
I liked the fact that they treated the subject of faith and the possibility of coexistence of Christianity and Islam, as well as the differences, in a very simple, every-day-life-way.
What was new to me was the visualization of fraternity. This aspect was a big thing throughout the whole movie. It is one of the things i least understood about priests and monks until now. It was amazing to see this feeling i have never personally experienced come alive on the screen and sort of being able to feel it myself.
I also liked that they used 'real' people and not pretty Hollywood types, but i suppose that is normal in a production like this.
I liked that a lot was left unspoken, unexplained and open for various interpretations.
The scenes i liked best was the one where: *the abbot was at a lake to find inspiration for his tough decision. *the 'last supper' with the close-ups of the monks' faces and the ballet music *the terrorist and the abbot talk about the birth of Jesus *the ending (usually i don't like abrupt and vague endings like these, but in this film it was bearable and befitting, because in real life it is also still unknown what exactly has happened).
49 out of 63 people found the following review useful:
Subtle, tender, and honest, 10 February 2011
Author: jimharvey87 from United Kingdom
Chris Morris's debut Four Lions (2010) found fame in it's irreverent
portrayal of Islamic fundamentalism in Yorkshire: the headlines that
accompanied Brass Eye (1997-2001) successfully carried on into a
low-key marketing campaign in that debut feature. Beauvois' film isn't
so much a farcical account of the spiralling contradictions of
religious extremism. But it does share its preoccupation with exactly
how far one, or rather a small community, can go to devote themselves
to their beliefs.
The film is located in the 1996 Algerian Civil War, and tells the true story of a monastery under threat from the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria (GIA). Dom. Christian (Lambert Wilson) takes it upon himself to express their intentions to ignore the threats, and continue their mission of goodwill. This is disputed by the group throughout, whose dilemma forces some of them to question their allegiance to God, and jeopardise their own health (as with the outstanding Michael Lonsdale's, Luc). Coping with the sacrifices involved in such an all-consuming faith is key to the themes here ("We're not here for martyrdom" reminds Christian), and it's difficult to recall a more delicate, understated study. An excellent example of Beauvois' achievement, both visually and performance-wise, is the kiss Luc places on the mural of Christ. Moments like this underline the dependency they all share on one thing alone: their religion. It looms over them, both haunting and cradling them throughout, like the vast, unspoiled skylines which constantly diminish them beneath - Caroline Champetier's cinematography is key to the affect created.
Tranquil moments like Luc's, where the viewer is allowed in such close, personal space, are almost unsettling in the access that's granted. The beauty achieved in these meditative scenes is all the more striking as we're reminded that these men are nearing the end of their lives. Death is always present from direct representation (as with the brutal throat-slitting of the Croat workers) to the indirect (the technique of cutting from the most tranquil scene to the loudest, most destructive scene).
The film is an anti-thriller in its treatment of fear and terror - the key moment occurs before the half-way point, and the viewer is left fearing for a reprisal for the duration. Beauvois' alternative narrative, featuring a fairly clear split down the middle, also featured in his previous Don't Forget You're Going to Die (1995) and To Mathieu (2000). Similarly, more recently, Mia Hansen-Love's Father of My Children (2010) involved a number of characters picking up the pieces in the wake of death. French colonialism in Algeria is only once directly attacked, when the police chief demands they leave. However, when viewed in a similar light to, say, Hidden (Cache, Michael Haneke, 2005), the occupation these men choose, the service they provided, the sacrifice they made, could too, easily be forgotten. So while the terrorism fears, today shared globally, are a focal point, a narrative of this kind reminds one not to forget the horrors of the past.
Of Gods and Men is testament to a thriving New French Cinema. Thought-provoking, rich in content both (formally and thematically), it's difficult to find fault with a film that so meticulously justifies its choices: the landscape is artwork, the tone is perfect, and the performances are achingly affective throughout.
38 out of 48 people found the following review useful:
An inner poetry and reverence for life, 13 March 2011
Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.
As Vivekananda has said, "The intensest love that humanity has ever
known has come from religion, and the most diabolical hatred that
humanity has known has come from religion." Both of these elements are
present in Xavier Beauvois Of Gods and Men, the story of seven Roman
Catholic French Trappist monks kidnapped by radical Islamists from
their monastery in the village of Tibhirine in Algeria during the 1990s
Algerian Civil War. The film depicts the sacrifices people of good will
in both religions are willing to make for each other, and that the
separation between religions is not an unbridgeable gap.
Winner of the Grand Prix at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Of Gods and Men stars Lambert Wilson as Christian, Prior of the monks, and 79-year-old Michael Lonsdale as a world weary medic who treats up to 150 Moslem villagers each day. The film derives its title from the Book of Psalms, Psalm 82:6-7 quoted at the beginning of the film: "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes." Filmed in Morocco, the film shows the daily life of the Trappist monks before the terrorist threat becomes real.
Though a large part of their day consists of contemplation and devotion, living in close contact with the Muslim population allows them to interact with them in a positive way, healing the sick, selling honey in the nearby markets, and caring for the aged. In addition, daily chores such as cooking, gardening, loading wood for the fireplace, and cleaning take up a large part of the day. Soon word gets around about the murder of European workers on a construction site by the terrorists and the monks recoil in horror when they learn about the stabbing of a woman riding on a bus by Islamic fundamentalists simply because she was not wearing a veil.
The Algerian government asks the monks to leave for their own safety but Christian tells them that their calling is to serve the people of the community and he insists on remaining, though he is willing to let the other monks decide. The issue becomes suddenly more immediate when a group of fundamentalists show up at the monastery on Christmas Eve demanding medicine for their wounded colleagues. Though the request is refused, Christian quotes the Koran to their spokesman Ali Fayattia (Farid Larbi) and they end up shaking hands, though the Prior senses rightly that they will be back.
When all agree that they will not abandon the monastery even at the risk of death, the dramatic high point of the film is reached when the monks recreate the Last Supper by sitting around a small table drinking wine and listening to a recording of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet. As the camera pans from face to face, we can observe a beatific smile on some faces and tears on others, demonstrating an inner poetry and reverence for life. The monks are not Christian moralists but spiritualists confronting the extremes of the human condition, characters who point the way to overcoming despair.
The monks, like the Curé de Torcy in Bernanos' Diary of a Country Priest, love poverty "with a deep, reasoned, lucid love as equal loves equal", expressing the eternal struggle of the spirit to know Christ and to come to terms with his anguish. The heroes of the film are not saints. They are flesh and blood human beings, full of ambiguity and fear, but never far from compassion and humility, willing to offer us the possibility of a world transformed by grace.
44 out of 60 people found the following review useful:
I was taken elsewhere by this film, 30 September 2010
Author: adrean-819-339098 from Australia
At the strong recommendation of the panel of 'Le Masque et La Plume' I
went to see this film.
I was struck by, as others have said here, the fraternity that existed between the priests. I thought the most interesting aspect of the film was the relationship between the priests. At times you can feel the tension because of the strong decision they had to make. Also it being 7-8 men living together it was interesting to see the different personalities in a group environment; you have the natural leader, the introverted, the brave, the scared etc.etc.
I imagine like most people who've seen this film the performance by Wilson Lambert was very touching. He was totally believable as the cloister's leader.
Unfortunately the church is undergoing a very hard time in regards mostly to child abuse, it's nice to have a reminder of the positive aspects. I myself went to a catholic school with some Brothers and a monastery on campus. I have a very positive image.
Particular favourite scenes are when they prepare and sell the honey at market and of course when they listen to Swan Lake and enjoy a glass of wine.
31 out of 46 people found the following review useful:
A magnificent, innovative and brave film, 6 February 2011
Author: Thomas Williams from London
The plot of this film can be summarised as: Christian monks live peacefully in Muslim country, political situation changes, monks have to decide whether to leave or to stay. Boring, you may say, nothing happens, you may say and, in one sense you'd be right. But..... The point about this film is not the plot. What this film acknowledges is that the real drama of human existence is internal, the real action in our lives takes place inside of us and the real journeys that we make are in our minds and our souls. This is a film about relationships, between different communities, between individual members of the same community, between individuals and God and between individuals and themselves. This is a film about identity and place - two things we all have in common, like it or not. Personally, I found the religious aspect of the film intriguing. We live in a world in which religion is, again, being used to justify momentous acts. An analysis of how that works and what it means has to be relevant. But even if you are not interested by this, or are, as I know many people are, turned off by the mention of the words "religion" or "God" what the film does is to allow it's audience to begin to look behind these literal concepts at how the spiritual (whatever that might mean to you) functions in our daily lives. So, 9/10. 10/10 is very tempting but the film is not perfect. It would probably be boring if it was and a very definite recommendation. Oh, and by the way, it has some beautiful scenery, some stunning and innovative cinematography and some crackingly good looking men.
18 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
A powerful, touching and luminous chef d'Oeuvre., 14 April 2011
Author: jonhamms from Canada
Des Hommes Et Des Dieux is a poignant movie about a part of our society. Unfairly knocked out of the Oscar short list representing Algeria by considerably mediocre ''Hors La Loi'', this movie is a powerhouse. What is really entertaining and amusing in a bunch of elderly people talking about society and morals? Xavier Beauvois is compelling and imposing, we believe in every single character, we believe in their honestly, their humanism. By being a so-called teenage/adult myself i really enjoyed this movie. The humanity and the authenticity of Beauvois's tale is breathtaking, the actor lead and supporting are true and brutally honest in their performance. This is the kind of movie that will spice up conversation around the world; this movie should have gotten nominated in the Oscar's because it is my favourite foreign movie this year so far. Thumbs Up to Xavier Beauvois, the actors and the humanity of this epic story.
23 out of 36 people found the following review useful:
Painterly film exploring the purpose and power of faith, 3 December 2010
Author: Framescourer from London, UK
I liked the control of this film's ambiguities. At first I thought it
was set in France. Then, perhaps, a Balkan country. Only later does the
film reveals itself but not before one has confronted several
assumptions about the rightness or wrongness of there being a monastic
order at the centre of a largely Muslim community.
During the film the seven monks are obliged to consider their practical role, their higher purpose and their own strengths as men, individually and collectively. We are told next to nothing of their back story and must work from their characters as revealed in the situations in which they find themselves - tending the sick, and facing the political and physical threat of the internecine attrition of local Muslim factions.
The performances operated along an axis that has the sage, worldly but ageing Michael Lonsdale (Luc) at one end and Lambert Wilson at the other, giving a career-watershed performance as Christian, the youthful, scholarly, faith-secure leader of the group. The film's ascetic design affords ample opportunity for beautifully composed shots that recall late 17th century Italian church allegories or the martyrdom-piety of Carl Dreyer's Joan of Arc. This is particularly the case in a memorable, exquisitely filmed Antonioni-like extended- denouement sequence which scrutinises the group as they eat supper after making the key decision of the film.
In addition to the performances of Lonsdale (creating a character on a continued trajectory from the worldly-compassionate servitude shown in Frankenheimer's Ronin) and the excellent Wilson, I admired director Xavier Beauvois' restraint in not laying on the piety too heavy and in pitching the pragmatism of the self-sufficient monks just right. The film doesn't preach. If anything, in its austerity it can seem a little remote for a Western audience. Still, the cold and hardship, like much else in the film, rings true. 7/10
7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Top-notch Performances, 3 March 2012
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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 terrorist but they decide to stay in the country and
not return to France.
One night, the extremists break in the monastery and abduct seven monks. A couple of months later, they are found dead in controversial circumstances.
"Des hommes et des dieux" is a film based on a true story and supported by top-notch performances. The official and non-official versions of the death of the Tibhirine priests can be found in Internet. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Homens e Deuses" ("Men and Gods")
16 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
A Conflict of Faith, 12 February 2011
Author: johno-21 from United States
I saw this last month at the 2011 Palm Springs International Film Festival where it won the FIPRESCI Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It has also won in that same category by the National Board of Review and was France's official submission to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film although it didn't make the short list. Making its debut at the Cannes Film Festival it went on to win the Grand Prix Award there. This is set in 1996 and is based on the events of a true story that took place during the struggle for power by different Islamic guerrilla groups and the government in Algeria. Caught in the middle are a group of French Roman Catholic Trappist Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance operating the self-sufficient monastery of Tibhiirine in the Algeian highlands and helping the people its nearby village. The monks have been largely left alone by the area guerrilla fighters but when their leader is killed he is replaced by an even more brutal leader and the threat to their existence is imminent. They must decide to stay or go. From writer/director Xavier Beauvois this is a dark film that moves slow in it's two hours. Great cinematography from veteran photographer Caroline Champetier with a beautiful production design by Barthélémy in converting an abandoned monastery in Morroco that hadn't been used in 40 years for the setting. Lambert Wilson leads the ensemble cast as the Christian the leader of the monks with veteran actor Michael Lonsdale as the monastery and village doctor. This film is about 30 minutes to long and too artistically clichéd for my liking. Lots of audiences and critics love it but I would only give it a 7.0 out 10
9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Remarkable, moving drama, 19 May 2011
Author: Red-125 from Upstate New York
Of Gods and Men (2010) Des hommes et des dieux (original title)
directed by Xavier Beauvois, is a powerful drama about good, deeply
trying to live a truly caring, peaceful life under difficult circumstances.
A small group of French monks have lived in a monastery in Algeria for many years. They are clearly different in a cultural sense from the surrounding community. However, their simple life and acts of charity are welcomed and accepted by the Muslims in the adjacent village.
The plot revolves around the threat of death from militants in the region. The Algerian revolution has succeeded in forcing out the French colonial forces. The Algerian government and army officials want the monks to leave and return to France for reasons of safety. The monastery is seen as a remnant of colonialism, and is therefore the target of nationalistic and religious violence. The problem revolves around the questions, "Will the monks stay?" and "What will happen if they do?"
Lambert Wilson plays Christian, the elected leader of the monks. He does an outstanding job of portraying a man who could have succeeded as a leader in almost any undertaking. However, he has chosen monastic life, and now his leadership has become a matter of life and death.
Veteran French actor Michael Lonsdale plays Luc, an elderly physician who can barely walk, but can still heal. The acting is uniformly excellent. In fact, the acting was so good that my wife and I had to remind ourselves that this is a movie, and these men are actors,not monks.
The music, mostly chants sung daily by the monks, was superb.
This is a very powerful film. We saw it at the excellent Little Theatre in Rochester, NY. If you can't see it in a theater, the movie should work almost as well on DVD.
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