Of Gods and Men [Des Hommes et des Dieux]

"Essential"

Of Gods and Men [Des Hommes et des Dieux] Review


With very little action, this film builds almost unbearable tension by carefully examining some moral questions in a precarious situation that's based on true events. And in the process, it becomes one of the most important films in recent memory.

Christian (Wilson) is the leader of a group of eight French monks living in a Catholic monastery in rural Algeria. Their only mission is to pray and serve the local people, and over the generations they have become an integral part of the community. When fundamentalist tensions spill into violence in the country around them, they have a difficult decision to make: abandon the people and flee home to France or stand up to the injustice. Opinions are split, but they opt to seek an answer together. And their decision could cost them their lives.

Based on real events from the 1990s, the film examines a series of huge issues as it quietly weaves together the story. Most obvious is the way various characters grapple with extremism, from the government officials who are embarrassed for their nation to the terrified locals trying to get on with their lives. The priests and imams take a more philosophical view, of course, pointing out that passages in the Koran tell Muslims that Christians are their brothers and that killing neighbours is a sin punishable by death.

Even more interesting is the way the film approaches the priests themselves.

Their camaraderie is beautiful to watch, as they watch and listen to each other and to the community, offering subtle encouragement and any assistance they can. So when the threat against them becomes hideously real, their reaction is understandable: they band together in a quest to do the right thing. And the confrontations they enter are seriously scary.

Director Beauvois assembles this with an almost wordless script and scenes in which it everything that's happening is beneath the surface. But the suspense is building constantly, with sudden explosions of violence are incredibly intense. The emphasis might be on the priests' piety, but this is shown as something both personal and practical. It's certainly nothing like the radicalised, narrow-minded Christianity that grabs headlines in America.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Box Office Worldwide: $41.4M

Budget: $4M

Production compaines: Why Not Productions, Armada Films, France Télévision, Cinémage 4, Cofinova 6, Soficinéma 6

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Xavier Beauvois

Starring: as Christian, as Luc, as Christophe, as Célestin, Jacques Herlin as Amedée, Loïc Pichon as Jean-Pierre, Xavier Maly as Michel, Jean-Marie Frin as Paul, Abdelhafid Metalsi as Nouredine, Sabrina Ouazani as Rabbia, Abdellah Moundy as Omar, as Bruno, Farid Larbi as Ali Fayattia, as Le terroriste, Benhaïssa Ahouari as Sidi Larbi, Idriss Karimi as Hadji, Abdellah Chakiri as Le colonel, Goran Kostić as Le chef de chantier croate, Stanislas Stanic as Ouvrier croate 1, Arben Bajraktaraj as Ouvrier croate 2, Zhour Laamri as La femme de Sidi Larbi, Raouia as La villageoise, Farid Bouslam as Ahmed, Fadia Assal as La femme de Nouredine, Maria Bouslam as Saloua, Soukaïna Bouslam as La fille de Saloua, Rabii Ben Johail as Terroriste 1, Saïd Naciri as Terroriste 2, Hamid Aboutaieb as Terroriste 3, El Alaoui El Hassan as Le berger

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