Of gods and men

Of gods and men

DVD - 2010 | 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. Includes bonus features.
Publisher: Culver City, Calif. : Sony Pictures Classics, c2010
Edition: Widescreen
Branch Call Number: DVD FOREIGN OF
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (123 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in


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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!)

Jan 02, 2017

"Of Gods and Men" truly spoke to us about the decisions we have to make when faced with life or death. The film is very touching and the pace of it gives us time to identify with the various humans and see things from their own perspectives. Even though these men were exceptionally dedicated to serving others, their humanity comes across - they had to deal with what is the principled thing to do.
We have to admire them for doing the right thing, that is, not to abandon the villagers and their principles despite knowing the consequences of staying.
It does raises the question what would we do in their shoes?
Seelochan Beharry

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.

Dec 31, 2014

In the 1990’s an order of Cistercian monks living in an Algerian monastery find themselves in a very precarious position when civil war breaks out between government forces and Islamic fundamentalists. Viewed with suspicion bordering on contempt by both sides despite their non-partisan stance, the brothers must make the most important decision in their lives; flee to safer ground or stay put and continue their mission of caring for the local villagers despite the very real possibility of being killed. As spiritual conviction comes up against the desire for self-preservation each man undergoes a personal crisis of faith; while one rails against a strangely silent God, others lose themselves in prayer and daily work. Eventually deciding to stay, the monks prepare themselves to face whatever fate may await them. Using panoramic images of dusky mountain ranges juxtaposed with humble monastic cells Xavier Beauvois highlights the temporal aspects of the monks’ lives while recurrent scenes of religious observances and a serene score of a cappella chants (plus a particularly poignant use of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake) underscores the mystical. Avoiding overt political posturing, Beauvois instead concentrates on the men themselves as they attempt to keep the evils of the outside world at bay through faith alone. Neither saints nor heros, their spiritual journey, based on a true story, is presented humbly and without undue religious embellishment. Although I felt a troubling lack of empathy for the characters, due perhaps to my own secular misgivings, a final coda in which a letter written by the Monastery’s leader, Brother Christian, is read aloud was nevertheless both a powerful testimony and an unwavering challenge.

Dec 22, 2014

Brilliant, timely, haunting ...

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.

Feb 12, 2013

This is a 2010 French documentary-drama directed by Xavier Beauvois, based on a true story in the mountains of North Africa in the 1990s.
Its original French language title is Des hommes et des dieux, which means "Of Men and of Gods" and refers to a verse from the Bible shown at the beginning of the film.
It centers on the monastery of Tibhirine, where nine Trappist monks lived in harmony with the largely Muslim population of Algeria, until seven of them were kidnapped and assassinated in 1996 during the Algerian Civil War.
It is largely a tale of a peaceful situation between local Christians and Muslims before becoming a lethal one due to external forces.
The film focuses on the preceding chain of events in decay of government, expansion of terrorism, and the monks' confrontation with both the terrorists and the government authorities that led up to their deaths.
Although it won the Grand Prix at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, it seems too slow.
If I din't know that the film is made based on the true story, I would have probably stopped viewing after the first 30 minutes.

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