Monday, July 4, 2011
Of Gods and Men
"Of Gods and Men" (2010) is one of the most powerful films that I have ever seen. It has won numerous prizes, including the Grand Prix, which is the second most prestigious award of the Cannes Film Festival. It also received the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. The French title, it should be added, is "Des Hommes et des Dieux, which translates as "Of Men and Gods."
The film opens with a quotation from Psalm 82:6-7: "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes."
It is not a documentary, but the true story of nine Cistercian (also known as Trappist) monks who lived and worked in a monastery in Tibhirine, Algeria. They enjoyed harmonious relations with their predominantly Muslim neighbors, provided them with medical care, sometimes worshiped with them, but never tried to convert them.
The story start in 1993 and concludes three years later, when seven of the monks are kidnapped and assassinated, although who was responsible is never explained. The Armed Islamic Group of Algeria claimed full responsibility, but French sources suggest that the killing was a mistake by the Algerian army during a rescue attempt.