Monday, May 23, 2011

Of Gods and Men. (2011) Xavier Beauvois

The 2010 Cannes Grand Prix winner came to Grand Rapids this week. Of Gods and Men is the true-to-life story of nine Trappist monks in Algeria during the country's civil war in the mid-nineties. A peaceful lot (they are monks - duh!), practicing prayer, song and communion, they work in an impoverished Muslim community bringing medicine and clothing needs through their humanitarian outreach. They live a quiet life and help people that don't share their faith or beliefs.

These extraordinary men are caught off guard when they are threatened by terrorists claiming something horrible will happen should they refuse to get out of the church, flee the country and head back to France. The men decide to stay, and the results are tragic.

It's a film I'm going to have to see more than once to make up my mind about. Quite honestly at this point, I can't decide whether their decision is the right one. But no matter what they choose, there will be good and bad ramifications - for them, for the people they daily help, perhaps for the good of the country itself. Watching them fear and discuss and try and figure out this quandary is akin to watching any Christian try to figure out what the right choices are, what that next right step might be. For that reason, for that honest depiction, the film is a winner and deserves to be wrestled with.

It's an absorbing film, though. And I think I'll enjoy the chance to make up my mind about it when I do get the chance to see it again. Hopefully it will come out on DVD sooner rather than later.

My friend Steven Greydanus has some wonderful reflections on the film Here.

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