First Wednesday Films
Next screening on November 4 at 7:30 PM
Of Gods and Men
(2010) 2 hr, 3 min.
Trappist monks’ routine of prayer, medical assistance and harmonious interaction with a local community in Algeria is upended by external forces. In French with English subtitles. A big hit in France, this film won the Cannes Grand Prix. Rated PG-13
MRHS Tuttle Center, 100 La Salle, #MC
$1.00 suggested donation
The following information is adapted from reviews by Roger Ebert and Matt Warner:
This is an amazing film based on a true story of seven Cistercian monks serving in Algeria, caught up in the Algerian Civil War in the 1990's.
Repeatedly pressured into leaving, they exhibit what it means to truly have faith.
Every scene in the film involves these monks, and most of the scenes are set in their monastery.
Several times a day, they put on white robes and pray and sing in a little chapel. The rest of the time, they tend crops, keep bees, sell honey, treat the sick of the district, eat bread and soup while being read to, and hold community meetings around a table with a candle on it.
They make no attempt to convert anyone to Catholicism. They live peacefully in a Muslim community, attend a service for a child, employ some of the nearby people as workers.
There is a deep serenity in their way of life. Although we come to know the monks by face and name, the film makes no particular attempt to focus on their personalities, except for two: Brother Christian (Lambert Wilson), who they have elected as leader, and Brother Luc, played by gentle old Michael Lonsdale.
Luc is the doctor, himself old, sick and asthmatic, but seeing countless patients every day and sometimes imparting benevolent advice, as when a village girl questions him about love.
Christian is clear-eyed and resolute in his idea of their mission in this place distant from their birthplace in France; they have been called by God to minister to the sick and hungry.
The most fraught scene comes when terrorists break in on Christmas Eve, demanding that old Luc come with them to care for a wounded comrade. Christian turns them away, after quoting from the Koran. Their leader, Rabbia (Sabrina Ouazani), is, somewhat unexpectedly, convinced.
There is an uplifting scene when they welcome an old friend with a dinner at which wine is served, the music of "Swan Lake" plays and joy shines from their faces. After some discussion, they follow Christian in deciding to stay at the monastery, no matter what.
The film focuses entirely on the nobility of the monks in choosing to stay with their vocation and their duty. Did they make the right choice?