Of Gods and Men (15)

Film

Drama

ofgodsandmenREV

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue May 18 2010

Reviewed at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival

French filmmaker Xavier Beauvois’s fifth feature is an observational and philosophical drama, based on true events from 1996, about a group of eight French monks in Algeria's Atlas mountains who face a growing threat of violence from armed Islamic fundamentalists operating in the region.

The film concerns itself with the monks’ deliberations, practical and spiritual, as to whether or not they men should stay in their monastery at this dangerous time, tending to the medical and other needs of the local community, or whether they should return to

France. But Beauvois is equally interested in the rituals and routines of this remote commune, asking why these ageing men choose to live this way and examining the odd sort of communality they achieve by facing up to this unusual challenge.

Beauvois rallies an astounding ensemble cast for this enquiring work, which is strangely serene in mood considering the violence and the threats of violence at its heart. From the off, we know we’re dealing with a nuanced, humane study of religions and the motives and beliefs of their stewards: early on we witness a friendly and serious discussion between the monks and local imams about Islamic fundamentalism and attitudes to Islam. Even when a group of mujahedin appear at the monastery, and not long after we’ve witnessed them slitting the throats of Croatian workers, Beauvois is careful to present them in a balanced, understanding fashion. It’s debate he is after rather than judgement and certainly not any sort of thrill from the threat faced by the monks. This is a film about piety rather than peril.

What sticks in the mind most about ‘Of Gods and Men’ is the journey we witness these eight monks taking from initially disagreeing among themselves as to whether or not to leave the monastery to finally almost unanimously agreeing as to their fate. We come to understand that their beliefs and the succour they take from each other may be more potent than even they first believed, and while Beauvois is in no way suggesting that they are martyrs, he does imply that they have found a spiritual solution to impending death.

That’s not to say their mortal quandary doesn’t scare the hell out of these men, as it would anybody, monks or not. This predicament is made powerfully and movingly clear in a heartrending scene where the monks listen to music from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’ and we witness a series of close-ups of their faces and eyes, the latter invariably filling with tears.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Dec 3, 2010

Duration:

120 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:16
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|36
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Trina

Simply beautiful. I thought it slow at first and took a break but the second half, especially the exquisite 'last supper' brought me to tears. Deeply moving.

Trina

Simply beautiful. I thought it slow at first and took a break but the second half, especially the exquisite 'last supper' brought me to tears. Deeply moving.

Dan M

An extraordinary invitation to look inside ourselves and ask what meaning we can bring to ours and others lives. The film's quietness, gently beautiful landscapes, and deliberate pacing give the viewer an opportunity to pose the same life-affirming questions to herself or himself that the characters are dealing with. It can be an experience that guides you well beyond the theater if you are open to it.

Dan M

An extraordinary invitation to look inside ourselves and ask what meaning we can bring to ours and others lives. The film's quietness, gently beautiful landscapes, and deliberate pacing give the viewer an opportunity to pose the same life-affirming questions to herself or himself that the characters are dealing with. It can be an experience that guides you well beyond the theater if you are open to it.

cathy

Fantastic, very moving, the selflessness, so much love, caring and sacrifice, what a pity our world does not have just a little bit of the compassion of these great men -what a wonderful world it would be !!!!

cathy

Fantastic, very moving, the selflessness, so much love, caring and sacrifice, what a pity our world does not have just a little bit of the compassion of these great men -what a wonderful world it would be !!!!

Wayne Kitcat

This is film which is truly uplifting, It moves at the pace monks live, it is not a thriller. It avoids histrionics, and dramatic music, the silence and relative lack of speach is part of the way of life of Trappist monks. They do not shout and scream. It is a beautifully crafted and produced film that conveys absolutely the feelings that the monks must have had, towards what became increasingly unavoidable death. They did not seek matyrdom, but chose to stay to support the village that needed them, as one villager says 'we are the birds of passage you are the branch". A totally moving and absorbing film.

Wayne Kitcat

This is film which is truly uplifting, It moves at the pace monks live, it is not a thriller. It avoids histrionics, and dramatic music, the silence and relative lack of speach is part of the way of life of Trappist monks. They do not shout and scream. It is a beautifully crafted and produced film that conveys absolutely the feelings that the monks must have had, towards what became increasingly unavoidable death. They did not seek matyrdom, but chose to stay to support the village that needed them, as one villager says 'we are the birds of passage you are the branch". A totally moving and absorbing film.

rodge

The performances were excellent but sadly overwhelmed by the achingly slow progress. I know we have to build the mood but after the forth or fifth long prayer or hymn I felt I was in an eclesiastical lock-in. Rather dreary.

Anna

Utterly beautiful, from the delicate use of landscape and colour, the finely delineation of character undergirded by enormous moral power. It gave me much to think about: is it possible to live a life of defiant love, as the monks did, outside the context of a monastery? Is it possible for anyone who chooses it?

Anna

Utterly beautiful, from the delicate use of landscape and colour, the finely delineation of character undergirded by enormous moral power. It gave me much to think about: is it possible to live a life of defiant love, as the monks did, outside the context of a monastery? Is it possible for anyone who chooses it?

Anthony

A truly great love story, according to the rule of St Benedict. Christopher and his young helper, seeding the fields, offer a glimpse of worldly love. "What's it like to be in love?", she has asked the ageing doctor, Brother Luc'. "Attraction, desire," he replies honestly, "then I found a higher love.">

Anthony

A truly great love story, according to the rule of St Benedict. Christopher and his young helper, seeding the fields, offer a glimpse of worldly love. "What's it like to be in love?", she has asked the ageing doctor, Brother Luc'. "Attraction, desire," he replies honestly, "then I found a higher love.">

peter ford

A poerful and gripping film, with great characterisation and acting. The interplay of the various personalities is remarkable. The setting is beautiful, threatening and haunting.

peter ford

A poerful and gripping film, with great characterisation and acting. The interplay of the various personalities is remarkable. The setting is beautiful, threatening and haunting.

Emily

A wonderful film. Beautiful and thought provoking. The characterisation of the monks was perfect with all playing such credible parts. I was utterly transfixed from beginning to end. A true materpiece>

Emily

A wonderful film. Beautiful and thought provoking. The characterisation of the monks was perfect with all playing such credible parts. I was utterly transfixed from beginning to end. A true materpiece>

Susie

Moving and marvellous. An different and excellent film. The scene of close-ups, enjoying their last supper, drowning in the beautiful Dying Swan music was stunning. Amen

jenny

A deeply moving and thoughtful film. Also a reminder of the importance of death in our lives. And the importance of what we do with our lives. Surprisingly uplifting.

jenny

A deeply moving and thoughtful film. Also a reminder of the importance of death in our lives. And the importance of what we do with our lives. Surprisingly uplifting.

koko

God doesn't exist. The French style delicatess,does Only God can create something like that. koko

koko

God doesn't exist. The French style delicatess,does Only God can create something like that. koko

Mark  Rennocks

Whislt watching this film i had a nice sense of calm. Even though this film is based around religion, i feel it is purely about humanity and what we are doing to each other. The 'last supper' scene i thougt was one of the moving moving and awesome moments in cinema.

Mark  Rennocks

Whislt watching this film i had a nice sense of calm. Even though this film is based around religion, i feel it is purely about humanity and what we are doing to each other. The 'last supper' scene i thougt was one of the moving moving and awesome moments in cinema.

maz

Interesting event but not a good film. has all the worst things about french film about it. Conceited, without pace, inappropriate and incongruous stagnant sentiment. People with this degree of grit do not exhibit this type or degree of hammed up sentiment. Says more about the staid and cliched imaginations of the filmmakers than the subjects themselves.

Phil Ince

Long, slow and not very good. The speech is characterless and consists simply of trite statements of position; there is no dialogue. The scenic photography is attractive but the pictures of people are a monotonous disaster; very often, the actors are performing with their hands but endlessly we see only their head and shoulders so that alot of the performance is lost. Is that because this is a TV movie? BBC Four are credited as collaborators. There are numerous moments where any pretence of naturalism collapses like the vote towards the end where the camera cuts from one after another when the vote is taken as if a people vote consecutively and rythmically when asked for their opinion. Banal.

david glowacki

Always amazes me how foreign language films can make films of this quality yet the English speaking nations cannot or will not.A quiet,humble minimalist film.The monks and it's faithful local villagers ooze humility and tolerance but squeezed by the twin forces of the Muslim militants wanton killings and the viciousness of the Government forces,their very existence is on a knife edge.Should they stay or should they go??? Did they make the right decision??? The wonderful understated acting and grey surrounding make for riveting viewing

david glowacki

Always amazes me how foreign language films can make films of this quality yet the English speaking nations cannot or will not.A quiet,humble minimalist film.The monks and it's faithful local villagers ooze humility and tolerance but squeezed by the twin forces of the Muslim militants wanton killings and the viciousness of the Government forces,their very existence is on a knife edge.Should they stay or should they go??? Did they make the right decision??? The wonderful understated acting and grey surrounding make for riveting viewing

Anne

A beautiful film about faith that never strays into sentimentality. Irrespective of your religious beliefs this is one to see.

Anne

A beautiful film about faith that never strays into sentimentality. Irrespective of your religious beliefs this is one to see.

Etienne

How do we transform life? We transform life with our inner cry. There is an outer cry and also there is an inner cry. When we cry outwardly, we cry for name and fame and material prosperity. When we cry inwardly, we cry for divine Love, divine Peace and divine Light. When we get Peace, Love and Light from above, we start transforming the world around us. Ste. Therese

Etienne

How do we transform life? We transform life with our inner cry. There is an outer cry and also there is an inner cry. When we cry outwardly, we cry for name and fame and material prosperity. When we cry inwardly, we cry for divine Love, divine Peace and divine Light. When we get Peace, Love and Light from above, we start transforming the world around us. Ste. Therese

Stephen

5 Star Film. Excellently balanced... a film that raises and opens ones life to the spirit (Not cognac). People of all faiths and none will motivate themselves to make this a better world after seeing this film. Alleluia PTL

Stephen

5 Star Film. Excellently balanced... a film that raises and opens ones life to the spirit (Not cognac). People of all faiths and none will motivate themselves to make this a better world after seeing this film. Alleluia PTL