500 Days Of Film Reviews Of Gods And Men And Finds A Powerful And Heartbreaking Film About Faith, Friendship And Sacrifice
A group of French monks, living in The Monastery Notre-Dame de l'Atlas of Tibhirine in Algeria, come under threat from Islamist rebel groups fighting in the country’s civil war.
Algerian government officials warn the monks of the danger that they face from the rebels and urge them to leave their monastery. However, the monks are conflicted. They do not want to become easy targets and yet they are also deeply reluctant to desert their community.
Each monk must examine his faith and choose to stay... or to leave.
Is It Any Good?
This is a film that stays with you long after the credits close. It is, quite simply, astounding in every way.
Let's get one thing out of the way. In the past I have stayed away from films with subtitles. Why? Well laziness I guess.
If I had not been doing my 500 Days Of Film challenge, I would have let this film pass me by. And I just can't bear to think that I would have missed it.
I am now a complete convert to foreign language films - if this challenge does nothing else for my film knowledge, I will be happy that I now appreciate all films no matter what the language.
Every scene in Of Gods And Men is beautifully constructed and incredibly cinematic. The wide open shots at the beginning slowly narrow to mirror the tense and claustrophobic atmosphere of the monastery at the end.
Yet this film is not about the climax. It is not about what ultimately happens to the monks. Instead, it is about how each monk examines his faith and responds to his terrible predicament.
Director, Xavier Beauvois, gives his actors the space and time to show the conflict that they face. You learn a lot about each man from very little. Beauvois builds our interest in each of the monks with such great care and the camera just loves their characterful faces.
Of Gods And Men is, as the title suggests, as much about faith as it is about friendship. I found myself in tears and on the edge of my seat as the monks all struggle with their faith and ask questions for which there is no easy answer.
This film is based on a true story of which I was unaware. After I had watched it, I searched on the internet for more details about the incident. Although the real-life story is important to know, I am actually glad that I was unaware of it when I watched the film.
Once again, this film, along with Pan’s Labyrinth, proved to me that discounting subtitled films is an abomination.
Yes, I cried again. Getting myself quite the reputation.