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Friday, September 24, 2010

OF GODS AND MEN

By D.E.Levine

2010 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

Director: Xavier Beauvois
Writer: Xavier Beauvois (adpation and dialogue); Etienne Comar
Cast: Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Olivier Rabourdin, Philippe Laudenbach, Jacques Herlin, Laic Pichon, Xavier Maly, Jean-Marie Frin, Abdelhafid Metalsi, Sabrina Ouazani, Abdellah Moundy, Olivier Perrier, Farid Larbi, Adel Bencherif et al.
Producers: Pascal Couchetoux and Etienne Comar
Area Executive Producer: Frantz Richard
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Country of Origin: France
Language: French with English subtitles
Genre: Drama

Xavier Beauvois has given us a brilliant film, so well cast, directed and acted that the viewer forgets they are watching a movie and thinks they are observing a real-time story.

Taken from an actual story about eight Cistercian monks who lived in a monastery in Tibhirine, Algeria from 1993 to 1996, the story focuses on their simple life and harmonious existence with their Muslim neighbors.

When Islamic fundamentalists massacred a crew of foreign workers, the monks turned down protection offered by the regional army and then debated whether to remain or leave their monastery.

Living an austere religious life and providing medical and community services to the local population, the monks were faced with the moral delemma of whether to let their fear drive them away from their mission.the

When they all concluded and voted that they wanted to remain, they demonstrated silent strength and courage that was stronger than their fears.

In 1996 seven of the monks were kidnapped and murdered in one of the extreme examples of violence and atrocities culminating from confrontation between the Algerian government and terrorist groups.

The identity of the kidnappers and murderers and the exact circumstances of the monks' deaths have never been known, but the incident had a profound and lasting effect on the governments, religious communities and international public opinion.

In 2003 the case was taken up by a French court. With the recent declassification of previously classified documents, it's hoped that the mystery of who kidnapped and killed the monks may finally be solved.

Beautifully photographed and capturing the spirit of the monastic order, the Muslim community and the spirit of the events, the story begins several weeks before the terrorists issued an ultimatum ordering all foreigners to leave the country.

Running through the film is the ongoing theme of commitment by the monks to the community and the message of peace by which they live and which they want to spread.

After viewing this beautifully made film, it's easy to understand why this film won the Grand Prix 2010 at the Cannes Film Festival.