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Of Gods and Men (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

4.6 out of 5 stars 204 customer reviews

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Product Description

Loosely based on the life of the Cistercian monks of Tibhirine in Algeria, from 1993 until their kidnapping in 1996, Of Gods and Men tells a story of eight French Christian monks who live in harmony with their Muslim brothers. When a crew of foreign workers is massacred by an Islamic fundamentalist group, fear sweeps through the region. The army offers them protection, but the monks refuse. Should they leave? Despite the growing menace in their midst, they slowly realize that they have no choice but to stay... come what may.


The monks at the Trappist monastery in Algeria seem almost to exist outside of time, so it may be a while before we recognize the 1990s as the setting for Of Gods and Men. And old traditions cannot escape new warfare in this stirring movie, based on a true story that happened at a remote enclave of peaceful, studious priests. These Christian monks minister to the largely Muslim (and very poor) villagers in their vicinity, a balance that is threatened by Algeria's Civil War. When nearby radical-Islamist insurgents begin killing foreigners, the monks must face a choice. Will they flee to safety--a perfectly rational and understandable decision that will leave the villagers without their only source of health care--or will they stay on, secure in their spiritual calling despite the possibility of abduction or murder? Director Xavier Beauvois makes an absorbing film from this question, and it's not at all difficult to understand why it became an unexpected box-office smash in France (and ended up winning the Cesar award for best film of 2010). The film is beautifully cast, and sometimes Beauvois simply trains his camera on the lined, weathered faces of his priests, as though allowing those lines to tell the story. Heading the cast is Lambert Wilson (of Matrix fame), who leads his men with an almost regal bearing, and veteran actor Michael Lonsdale, who quietly inhabits the role of the physician in the group. The film takes time out for quiet contemplation, as though understanding that the priests' suspenseful situation is only half the story. The wordless climax, which allows the men to be animated by the earthly pleasures of wine and Tchaikovsky, is something of a spiritual journey of acceptance all on its own. It's a moment you'll find very difficult to forget. --Robert Horton

Special Features

The Sacrificed Tibéhirine: Further Investigation
Merrimack College Augustine Dialogue IX with Author John W. Kiser

Product Details

  • Actors: Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale
  • Directors: Xavier Beauvois
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Language: French (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
  • DVD Release Date: July 5, 2011
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,520 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Of Gods and Men (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
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.
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Format: Blu-ray
Something happens to the human heart while experiencing OF GODS AND MEN: the reminder of our responsibility to not only those we love but also to the betterment of the human condition no matter the cultural differences is overwhelming. Would that this film could be required viewing for every global citizen! We might, just might, begin to grow not only more tolerant of other people's beliefs but embrace them as fellow beings and in doing so, end the clangorous need for war.

Xavier Beauvois both wrote (with some assistance from scenarist Etienne Comar) and directed this film that is as much a work of art as it is a deeply moving story. The film was first released in France as 'Des hommes et des dieux' to high acclaim: hopefully it will have the same impact here in this country. Based on a true story, the time is in the 1990s, the place Algeria during their Civil War. A Trappist Monastery is the home of eight devout elderly monks, each performing the duties to allow them to exist off the land and serve the poverty stricken Algerian village near by. The head of the monastery is Christian (an elegant and tender Lambert Wilson), the old physician Luc (Michael Lonsdale) serves the physical needs of the impoverished Muslim villagers, and the rest of the monks tend the gardens for food, and study, and rise each morning to begin a day of prayers and masses. These gentle, wise old men are Christophe (Olivier Rabourin), Célestin (Philippe Laudenbach), Amédée (Jacques Herlin), Jean-Pierre (Loïc Pichon), Michel (Xavier Maly), and Paul (Jean-Marie Frin).
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Format: Blu-ray
This film is based on the true story of a group of monks during the recent civil war in Algeria. There is a beauty in their devotion to the poverty stricken local residents, whom they serve with warmth and simplicity.

As the real world intrudes on their quiet labor, they must confront some essential questions that could affect their prospects of survival. Should they accept an armed guard from a government with little legitimacy? Should they leave? Should they attempt to build a respectful relationship with the fundamentalist rebels who menacingly visit them? Can they abandon their mission? Their struggle with these questions forms the basis of the film's plot. While slow if you are used to hollywood action, it is completely believable, with every scene pregnant with psychological nuance and internal turmoil.

With subtle elegance, the climax of the film occurs when the monks come to their decision over a meal, together listening to music on a crude cassette player and weeping at their intimacy and commitment to the community. Even though I am not a believer, it brought tears to my eyes to witness the holiness and devotion of these men as they labored in obscurity and accepted their fate.

I saw this in Paris, where it was much discussed as an "event film". The Parisians took this as art that made an important statement and deserved to be viewed seriously and debated. This is an interesting contrast to the film experience elsewhere, whether you think it pretentious or not.

Warmly recommended.
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