Of Gods and Men
PG-13
Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: +2

Drama. In French and Arabic with English subtitles. Writer-director Xavier Beauvois.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A stirring story of faith under fire, Of Gods and Men opens in New York and Los Angeles Feb. 25: a story of love’s high cost and noble purpose. France’s official entry in this year’s Academy Awards, Of Gods and Men is based on a true story of French Cistercian monks serving in Algiers in the 1990s. With violence erupting nearby between the army and extremists, foreigners were warned to leave. But these monks elected to stay, to continue serving their Muslim neighbors, and to bear witness to the reality of their faith. They were kidnapped and later found murdered, but by whom remains a mystery.

Writer-director Xavier Beauvois recounts the true story of a brotherhood of French monks in the highlands of North Africa who find themselves threatened by Islamic extremists during the Algerian Civil War of the 1990s. With an ensemble cast led by Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale the film begins as a bucolic chronicle of these men of God and their harmonious relationship with their Muslim neighbors, to whom they provide much needed medical care and other services. When the insurgents arrive, the monks find themselves faced with a harrowing and impossible decision: to flee, or to stand their ground and fulfill their spiritual and humanist mission.

PREVIEW REVIEW: A very different film, it has a slow, deliberate pacing and focuses on character development. The camera does not jiggle or bounce in order to create momentum or anxiety, but merely focuses on each character allowing the actor to generation a feeling of tension, weariness and ultimately, peace. It is truly a character study, giving us an intimate look at a group of men who have dedicated their lives to others through their devotion to God and Christ.

All too often filmmakers choose to focus on the hypocrisy or failings of people of faith, while Xavier Beauvois presents followers of Christ who have denied themselves in order to achieve a higher goal, to honor and serve.

These monks are seen caring for the savage as well as the meek, showing a respect and forgiveness for their brethren. The film and these men remind us of why we should deny ourselves, putting others and God before their own desires – because the self-sacrifice is noticed by people and honored by God.

Self denial – hard to do even for those of us who call God our God.

It’s slow, requires reading subtitles, and more about the dynamics of the human spirit than special effects and things that go boom, but if you are looking for something unusual, something that uplifts the inner man, this is one to see.

Preview Reviewer:
Distributor: Sony Classics

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: A monk reads an article in a newspaper, the piece contains one obscenity and a couple of minor expletives; at one point one of the monks gets mad at his fellow priest, and storms off uttering an obscenity – I found this a use of language rather than an abuse as it gave the other man the opportunity to forgive him for his wrath.
Profanity: None
Violence: We see several violent images of terrorists murdering people, including one scene where a person has his throat slit; though the image is hard to view, none of the violence is glorified or used to be exploitive, but rather depicted in order to show the threat of evil in our world. Some blood on dead bodies and as a man bleeds to death after having his throat cut – the scene is brief.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: None
Running Time: 120 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature viewers

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