Of Gods and Men

(2010)

Genres: Drama, History

Review: Of Gods and Men

Transcript for Review: Of Gods and Men

CHRISTY LEMIRE:
That’s a scene from "Of Gods and Men," based on the true story of a group of French monks who were kidnapped and killed back in 1996.  Writer-director Xavier Beauvois details with lovely simplicity how these men went about their quiet days at a monastery in Algeria. But dangerous forces are bubbling up all around them, between Islamic extremists and the military that's trying to keep the insurgents down.

Clip 1 -- Be careful

CHRISTY:
That's Lambert Wilson as the head of the monastery and Michael Lonsdale as the monk physician who treats everyone around -- from children with skin diseases to rebels with gunshot wounds. They judge no one, and view it as their calling to help everyone they can. The monks had created a nice little place for themselves in the community -- but that's increasingly in danger.

Clip 3 -- We may be leaving (ends with "We're the birds, you're the branch. If you go we lose our footing.")

CHRISTY:
"Of Gods and Men" is slow going for a while, but stick with it. The tension builds steadily, and the members of the ensemble cast -- all of whom are blessed with beautifully expressive faces -- react with recognizable humanity in this frightening situation. Beauvois is intentionally vague in his depiction of the monks' deaths, and that makes them even more powerful.

IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY:
You know I don’t think this film has really anything profound to say about religion.  Which you know, a lot of our collegues think that it does.  However, what I do think that it is a really strong, really well put together, intense, B film in a monk’s habit.

CHRISTY:
Really? You don’t think it’s high fluting and Oscar worthy like France did?

IGNATIY:
No, you know this almost reminds me of a siege Western.  You know, you have the people of the town who are helpless and they don’t have a sheriff and the bandits are coming…

CHRISTY:
And the monastery is like a fort.

IGNATIY:
Yeah and the monastery is like a fort.  In fact, the movie kind of resembles John Ford’s last movie which is “Seven Women” which is set at a missionary outpost that looks a bit like the monastery here and you know there are some bandits coming towards it.  And what I feel that the film does very well.  It doesn’t do a very good job in my opinion of connecting their religion to the decision that they make.

CHRISTY:
I’m okay with that though, I kind of like that because they react as men.

IGNATIY:
That’s exactly right.  What it’s really good at is establishing them as characters, how they function as a group.  You know you just get a really great sense of how this kind of, you know there’s a little hierarchy…Brother Christian who’s played by Lambert Wilson is kind of the elected head monk.  The way that all of them relate to one another.  The way they discuss problems.  That’s what this film gets across really well.

CHRISTY:
I like too how they evolve because they’re not all necessarily on the same page from the beginning.  Some of them want to leave, some of them want to stay and that changes as the situation changes and they react believably every time and yet they still go about they’re daily chores and they chant and that’s the religious underpinning there.  It’s more like, that’s their routine, that’s what keeps them grounded.

IGNATIY:
The chanting seems more like it’s part of their ritual then it is really part of their faith.