Of Gods and Men
Of Gods and Men
(Des hommes et des dieux)
Directed by Xavier Beauvois
Cornerhouse, 5 December 2010
A beautiful film that is possessed of an ancient and authentic spirit of Christmas.
It is a hymn to lives lived in imitation of Christ, the Prince of Peace. And in a sense it is Christ’s passion, not least his despair and doubts, his stumblings and ultimate sacrifice, that acts as girder and backbone to the film. As in a village it is a child’s skeleton that, so legend says, keeps the bridge standing.
This is most pronounced in the various scenes where the monks debate whether to leave the village, their flock, because they are under threat from both the Algerian army and Islamic terrorists. (And can we say that this world is any different from the one that Christ, the infant Jesus, was born into? A question that forcibly strikes one throughout.) Not that they have much of a choice, mind. That is the thing about love and commitment: it takes the ground from under your feet.
Probably only Fanny Howe could do this profound film full justice, and I would travel far and pay good money to read her thoughts on it. For myself, I found it to be incredibly moving, beautifully composed, well-acted; in short, well nigh perfect. Most moving of all were the Swan Lake sequence – a summing up of these men’s lives, the devotion that has given it its meaning – and the one where Christian goes to identify the Islamic terrorist leader’s body. His instinctive reaction rends one’s heart.
Just one qualm: Of God and Men would have been a more apt title (or translation) and better suited to the irenic intentions of the film. Christianity and Islam are monotheistic religions after all, as too is Judaism. There is but one God.
A great, great film.Explore posts in the same categories: Film review comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.