Of Gods And Men - Blu-ray Review

'Beauvois' film questions the idea of martyrdom, the duty of the individual Christian and the role faith has to play in the everyday decisions of the religious. His film succeeds on all fronts'

A riveting examination of faith, sacrifice and of what it means to be a Christian, Xavier Beauvois' Of Gods And Men is a tumultuous true-story journey of emotion through the experiences of a group of monks in an Algerian monastery at a time when the country was experiencing a civil war. Caught between their duty as community leaders and the danger inherent to them if they stay in their home, the monks - collectively and individually - seek answers and reconciliation from each other, from the community and from God as they make inevitably difficult and unenviable choices.

Proud and contemplative, Beauvois' film questions the idea of martyrdom, the duty of the individual Christian and the role faith has to play in the everyday decisions of the religious. His film succeeds on all fronts. True to his themes and to his subjects, Beauvois is not so narrow-minded as to present a good-versus-evil battle. The monks come close to bickering early on as decisions are made without consultation, the Algerian army seems to only seek to protect through petulant antagonism and, although Beauvois occasionally paints them as sympathetic, the rebels' brutality is hardly in question. It is a film about the human brotherhood, whatever side and appearance that brotherhood comes to take.

In two later scenes Beavois simultaneously shows his grasp of the technical skills required of a director and of the way in which these skills don't necessarily need to obscure emotion. At a late dinner, the monks sit and listen to Swan Lake. Beavois, patient and observational, allows his camera to sweep the room. Backwards and forwards, it passes over the monk's faces numerous times as each actor is given room to explore his character's feelings with, one suspects, little prescriptive direction. A subsequent scene, which blends in a letter from Christian (Lambert Wilson) in voiceover monologue, could easily be mawkish but is instead one of the film's finest moments.

The fact that a real-life letter stands out above the script is testament to the intelligence and admirable foresight of the group of monks. Of Gods And Men's subject matter is compelling dramatically but its real world application of theology - at a time where so many conflicts are boiling - is both timely and necessary to consider. The two-hour runtime occasionally feels inflated but examining the back story included on the Blu-ray's extras reveals that this could have been a three hour epic. Another wise decision by Beavois whose remarkable and touching film stands out as one of the best of last year.

Look further...

'the at-times-labelled-stereotypical tone of Of Gods And Men is not all that it seems' - Hope Lies At 24 Frames Per Second


  1. @Film Intel: Yes, this movie was pretty good. The lead actors playing Monks were excellent, and the film's maturity is impressive, as demonstrated in how the film handles the antagonisms both within the monk society and between the monsks and the outside world.

  2. Agree with all of that Edgar - maturity is a good word to use with this film. Really like Michael Lonsdale. He lends such a calm air and meaty presence to everything he's in. Remember first noticing him in RONIN but I'm sure there's more stuff from him I should check out.