Of gods and men

Of gods and men

Des hommes et des dieux

DVD - 2011 | French
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Eight French Christian monks live in harmony with their Muslim brothers in a monastery in the mountains of North Africa in the 1990's. When a crew of foreign workers are massacred by an Islamic fundamentalist group, fear sweeps though the region. The army offers them protection, but the monks refuse. Should they leave? Despite the growing menace in their midst, they slowly realize that they have no choice but to stay, come what may.
Publisher: [United States] : Sony Pictures Classics, 2011.
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (123 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.

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c
CaptainHecto
Oct 12, 2019

The two best aspects: First, the early depiction of the monks' solid integration into the life of the local Algerian community (Michael Lonsdale is superb here). Then, the anxiety and inner turmoil of each individual monk as they collectively wait for what may happen (none is a seeker after Christian martyrdom, and that is all to the good). But I'm not sure so much time was needed to present the should-we-stay-or-should-we-go debate: the film's pace is markedly better before we reach that point. The ending is handled artfully, with a memorable final shot.

r
RainbowRabbit
Mar 31, 2018

I saved the movie ‘Des Hommes et Des Dieux’ to watch on Good Friday, and how appropriate a timing that was. Nine Trappist monks of the monastery in the former French colony of Algeria lived in harmony with the largely Muslim population, until some were kidnapped and assassinated in 1996 during the Algerian Civil War. The monks were aware of the danger that they faced. Each faced the threat as an individual, and had to choose for themselves whether to stay or to retreat to safety. Each chose not martyrdom, but to be true to the person he was. Amid the drama, we hear them chant in the Gregorian style, and pray the psalms, and get on with their day-today activities of reflection, service, and work. While some may skip the religious parts of the film, the text of the Gregorian chants and the psalms comment on the situation in which the monks find themselves, and help reveal their inner struggle. The movie is very slow from beginning to end, but is beautifully shot and the premise was dramatic enough that I kept with it. Finally, I caught on to the anguish each monk experienced as they came to understand what their lives meant. These men stayed the course not from some noble spiritual high-mindedness, but out of their own personal truth that they wanted to live out. We come to understand better the life of the dedicated Religious, but also adire the courage of doctors, aid workers and other volunteers who put themselves in harm's way knowingly for the good of others. Perhaps this applies also to our first responders here in our home and native land. I cannot recall a film that took me so deep into a spiritual experience. Perhaps the most comparable film would be 'Dead Man Walking.'

An absolutely gripping movie. Tension throughout: will the Muslim fanatics in Algeria's islamist vs. secularist civil war capture these harmless monks or not? Spoiler alert: the worst happens!! Extremely sad portrayal of innocent men who become collateral damage in a war that is not of their making. Nine French Christian monks live in a monastery in the Atlas mountains of Algeria, independent from France since 1962. An islamist party has won the recent national elections, but the government, backed by France, has refused to recognize the result. Civil war has broken out, with horrific atrocities committed by both sides. The monks do not seek martyrdom, but are reluctant to abandon the nearby villagers, who rely on them for medical help, food, and employment. Incredibly convincing acting by a stellar cast of French and Arab actors, especially Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale (yes, they are French!)

r
Ron@Ottawa
Jan 30, 2015

8 Christian monks, driven by their faith, chose to stay behind in their monastery in Northern Africa despite a surge in violence and killings in that area. The plot is supposed to be base on a true story. Although I fast-forwarded the parts related to their religion rituals, which didn't interest me, I still find this slow, meditative film very engaging. Highly recommended for a thoughtful viewing. In French with subtitles.

j
Jane_Sm
Dec 22, 2014

Brilliant, timely, haunting ...

c
chapellofamily
Apr 30, 2014

An excellent film! No wonder it won the Grand Prix Award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.

hania4987 Feb 02, 2014

an absolutely incredible movie about faith and community. It's shot in a documentary style and focuses on the monastery of Cistercian monks living in northern Algeria. It was very interesting that they were presented (without the typical cynicism against faith or spirituality) as real people with a calling and commitment. There were many powerful scenes in this very quiet movie, but my favorite one is the one in which two of the monks are conferring with some of their Muslim neighbors. The monks are trying to decide whether to stay once the terrorists start their campaign. The monks say they are like birds on a branch not knowing whether they were coming or going. The villagers tell them that "you are the branch and we are the birds" who look to the monks for their foundation. A must-see movie.

tessbrown Feb 14, 2013

Nicely done. I know it was going to be in French so I had to rely on the sub-titles and the limited French I have acquired from my French-immersion sons. I am a strong Catholic and can relate to the monks in the story.

u
uncommonreader
Oct 25, 2012

This tells the story of a small community of Catholic monks living in Muslim North Africa. There are excellent relations between the monks and their neighbours, who want them to stay despite recent terrorist attacks against Bosnian workers. Eventually, they are taken hostage. The story is told in a very non-judgemental way.

m
MeReneG
Jan 29, 2012

A very good, deeply moving (albeit slowly-paced), powerful film about real-life events in the mid-1990s, during the Algerian Civil War. Beautiful indoor and exterior (Morocco substitutes for Algeria) cinematography. // When hostilities threatened, these Trappist monks were forced to grapple with their convictions and choose whether to leave the country or stay. Their decisions to stay ultimately led to the abduction and death of all but two (who managed to hide and escape capture). // The film is based largely on the 2002 book (The monks of Tibhirine) by John Kiser; the voice-over near the end of the film (when the hostages are together in a room) is based on writings by Father de Cherge which were found, at the monastery, after his abduction. // Although the hostages died in captivity, there has been speculation that the Algerian military may have been involved (accidentally or intentionally) in their demise -- which had initially been attributed to murder by their captors.

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