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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life during wartime
What is refreshing about the popular and critical success of Of Gods and Men (winner the Grand Prix at Cannes 2010) is not that it is particularly experimental or challenging, but rather that it avoids going either for the populist crowd-pleasing angle or the tear-jerker that its real-life inspiration seems to demand. The film is based on a true story of a small community...
Published on 26 Feb 2011 by Keris Nine

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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Insufficient subtitles
I ordered this DVD twice..... the admittedly sparse, principally French dialogue appeared to have been only subtitled 20% of the time. It seemed like a technical fault, and I gave up the film half wey through to return it.

But the replacement was just the same!

A pity, it seems a great story sensitively portrayed, and unusual yet topical. But...
Published on 20 May 2011 by Adrian


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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life during wartime, 26 Feb 2011
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
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What is refreshing about the popular and critical success of Of Gods and Men (winner the Grand Prix at Cannes 2010) is not that it is particularly experimental or challenging, but rather that it avoids going either for the populist crowd-pleasing angle or the tear-jerker that its real-life inspiration seems to demand. The film is based on a true story of a small community of Cistercian monks in Tibhirine in Algeria caught up in the country's political troubles during the 1990s. The monks regard it as their duty to bring aid and provide medicine for the local villagers who are suffering because of the local unrest and the battles between the national army and Islamic fundamentalists, but they risk incurring the wrath not only of the fundamentalists through their spreading of Christian beliefs, but also the Algerian army who believe that they may be giving aid and medicine to wounded militants.

It would be all too easy to let the divide that exists in this situation and the choice that is faced by the monks to remain simplistic - should they stay or should they go? Even though there are some reservations expressed, there is never any doubt that the monks will come to the logical Christian conclusion and stay. What is rather more impressive however is how the director refuses to allow this decision to be seen, as it would in a more conventional film, as simply an act of heroism or bravery. The situation is not exploited shamelessly for heavy-handed sentimentality as it would be in a Hollywood production, but rather it goes deeper into the qualities that lie behind courage and potential martyrdom. What the monks have to grapple with are their own doubts, their own flaws, their own fears - their very humanity. It is not weak to confront these fears, but the true measure of the men is in how they come to terms with their human weaknesses without denying them.

Beauvois manages to draw the essential truth and beauty out of the film, and at the same time protect it from the intrusive elements that could indeed diminish its force, simply showing the closeness of their brotherhood, their willingness to understand and forgive, and their ability to reflect deeply not so much on the decision that must be taken whether to stay or to leave, but on a deep search into themselves for the heartfelt truth. These kind of reflections and questions are not so easy to put up on the screen without troublesome exposition, but Beauvois manages to show simply and effectively how the monks find this truth in their daily routines and in the simplicity of their lifestyle. It all comes down to life and the love of life itself, and the simple pleasures that can be gained from it.
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101 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Miracle for our times, 6 Feb 2011
By 
John Holland - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Of Gods And Men [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
An extraordinary film in which actors grew into monks before my eyes and their predicament became real. I was immensely touched by the evident love which existed between the monks and the villagers they served and moved by the image in which the former were compared to a strong branch on which the frail could perch. That such affection and concern could exist between Christians and Moslems was I felt overwhelming. The scene where Luc advises the young girl on love was both amusing and moving and suggestive of the tender ordinariness of the relationships.

Finally the sense of spirituality which suffused the film conveyed often by the silence and immobility became palpable for me and left me with a memory which I am sure will endure.
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96 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense yet subtle drama, 24 Jan 2011
By 
D. J. Andrews "David Andrews" (Keele, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Of Gods And Men [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Des Hommes et des Deux (2010) 18

Of Gods and Men (2010) 18

Des Hommes et des Deux manages to tell a story and make you care about the characters whilst it exclaims its philosophy. It says what it has to say without preaching, which must be difficult in a movie where the main characters are monks in a subtle way. It is a modern masterpiece that doubtless will leave its message, and the complex issues that it raises, on the minds of people who have watched it for a long time.

Directed by Xavier Beauvois, the film is based on the lives of Cistercian monks in Algeria and there interaction with the local community in the 1990's during a time of great turmoil where Islamic extremists are taking over the village and according to one scene, the country, against everybody's dismay. The monks are constantly threatened by the presence of the fundamentalists and face a tough decision whether to stay or not as they are the backbone of the village and the only medical treatment the people of the village can gain access to.

The tone of the film does not attempt to portray the monks as all holy and is not quintessentially pro-christian. A lot of the film is the monks struggling with their own faith and each one of them attempt to deal with the events with their own conscience and the most powerful scenes are the ones with the monks sitting around deciding what they are going to do. The film, without actually vocalising it appears on all sorts of philosophical levels and manages to draw a line between the Islamic villagers feelings towards the monks and the terrorists. The main message of the film comes out as it being important to separate the ordinary Algerians with the terrorist uprising, it remains unsaid for much of the film however and is only alluded to once. Another interpretation would be that it is an examination of the lives of ordinary people and and ordinary village at a time of religious persecution, a portrayal of the monastery and village as a modern day Montailiou.

The monks are portrayed 3-dimensionally and the acting is incredible. In a departure from what we get in Hollywood drama's, the entire cast look like they are human beings who have lived through some life. They're acting is incredible and the emotion they portray is both subtle and something to empathise with. The script is written in a minimalist way so much that you believe that these are real people and this is how real people would act under the circumstances. One feels through the beautiful acting and the script the intense fraternity that the monks have... the one scene where they sing whilst an army helicopter flies overhead is incredibly moving and shows the spirit of brotherhood that the monks felt towards each other in the circumstances.

The film doesn't preach, even when the monks take mass it creates the feeling that they are carrying on with the ritual for themselves so that they can have the strength to carry on protecting the village. The film is not, on a basic level, about the religious themes but rather a group of aid workers who are in danger and having to wrestle with the decision, philosophically, personally and spiritually to leave or to stay.

The film is one of the most important film's of the year and is a piece of art in its own right. The storytelling is excellent as is the casting, direction and acting. It's shot beautifully, it's central messages and themes don't get lost despite a strong narrative and it deals with complex topics in simultaneously complex, intelligent and thought through ways. I would advise anybody to see this film. It won the Grand Prix de Jury at Cannes and I am fairly certain that it should win the Academy Award for best foreign film, if it doesn't it's because the judges didn't understand it. Better than anything I've seen this year yet, including Inception and Uncle Boonmee
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A visual sermon, 19 Jan 2011
This review is from: Of Gods And Men [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I saw this film at the local film theatre. The spiritual journey of the community, from disagreement to unity of purpose, was stunning. The portrayal of their life, both together and within the local Moslem community,was gently unfolded. The sheer love between all concerned was vividly portrayed - and their love of God. It felt like a documentary rather than a drama with actors. It made me want to pray! The final chapter meeting to decide whether to stay or go revealed a depth of love and trust - in both God and each other - was a real revelation. The 'Last Supper' scene was so beautiful and the final scene was more to do with the heavenly journey than earthly death. I would be interested to hear what an atheist made of it. One last comment, as with so many none British/American films, it made me aware of how noisy 'commercial' films are. Watch it at night with everything else switched off - and no breaks for anythhing.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 22 Feb 2011
By 
This review is from: Of Gods And Men [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
It is spiritual, very Christian and a film for anybody who has a heart. So you don't have to be Christian in order to appreciate this masterpiece
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three dimensions, 21 Jan 2011
By 
R. J. Harvey (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Of Gods And Men [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Xavier Beauvois' slow-burning story of Trappist monks caught up in an existential crisis in 1990s Algeria might not sound like populist material, but it contains universal themes that should strike a chord with any human being: the metaphysical discrepancy between the body and soul; the knowledge of one's own corporeal prison, never capable of achieving the same level of grace as that of a faithful mind.

The form is conservative, shorn of flourish, and the narrative familiar. But you'd have to go back to Black Narcissus to see a similar setting framed with such poise, albeit with more playfulness.

It's impeccably played, particularly by Lambert Wilson as the appointed leader, Christian, and Michael Lonsdale as the world-weary doctor, Luc. Beauvois establishes the sense of serenity and balance beautifully - not only in the simple pleasure of watching people work with their hands, but in the rhythm of Marie-Julie Maille's editing, showing us moments of virtual silence, only to be jarringly shattered by the roar of some engine, or surrendered to a song fairly blared.

With the introduction of fundamentalist terrorists to threaten the village, the film becomes more than a little reminiscent of Roland Joffe's The Mission (minus the melodrama). There is a great scene in which Christian visits a lake to consider the decision to stay or desert the village, and watches a flock of birds take flight. He sees the ease with which they flee.

This is three-dimensional film-making without the glasses. The wordless scene in which Luc enters the dining chamber, slaps on a tape of Swan Lake, and serves wine to his brothers, has a sense of Last Supper significance and mythical profundity. We are observing love and doubt and a million other markers of the human condition. There may be more drama in these few wordless minutes, with the probing camera seeking every twitch in every man's conflicted face, than in all the 3D films yet made.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and Memorable, 2 May 2011
By 
Suzanne Ryder - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Of Gods And Men [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
This story is a true one, told in a realistic manner. The action creeps up on the viewer and it is hard to notice how intimate the setting is. We are brought right into the world of these committed men and journey with them through the travails that meet them. They are not saints but they are reflective and true to their inner selves. It shows that faith is not static and nobody is one-dimensionable. Christian and Muslim ideals are not all that different after all!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply beautiful, 25 Jan 2011
This review is from: Of Gods And Men [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I saw this in its original version in France. Believer or atheist one cannot help but be moved by the dedication of these monks. The 'Last Supper' scene is so moving - I was in tears. Beautiful images of the country too. And I so agree with the reviewer who praises its quietness - a welcome relief from all the distracting and invasive music that so often accomapanies films today - and so fitting for the peace and serenity the monks enjoy in their monastery. Very sad and the more so because it is based on a true story about which there remains much mystery.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sub-titles, 27 Feb 2011
This review is from: Of Gods And Men [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I'm holding off pre-ordering the DVD from amazon UK as I want the film without embedded sub-titles. The French DVD has a selection of language sub-title options. The UK version doesn't indicate whether the subtitles are embedded. Because of that, I'm off to the FNAC. One day, DVD's will be flagged "subtitles embedded" or "sub-titles menu'd". I've been "had" before. Am I the only person who wants the option to add subtitles ?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of Gods and Men DVD, 28 May 2011
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This review is from: Of Gods And Men [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
This is a beautiful and moving film about a small community of Cistercian monks who live in the mountains of North Algeria in 1996. Their mission cares for Muslim neighbours and all who need help or medical care. They believe in unconditional love towards all, and this is lived out in their every day lives...
The story is based on a true experience of a community and I should say it is French, but there are subtitles and this did not take anything away from my enjoyment.
Unconditional love has often a high price to be paid, but the community know this and in in the end have to accept it.
I found this film an uplifting experience and very sad as well.
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Of Gods And Men [DVD] [2010]
Of Gods And Men [DVD] [2010] by Xavier Beauvois (DVD - 2011)
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