Xavier Beauvois’ award-winning french film is based on life in the Cistercian monastery of Tibhirine in the mountains of Algeria in the run-up to the kidnapping and murder of seven monks in 1996.
It’s not often that I remain in my seat until the very end of the credits when watching a film in the cinema. But I did last night. And so did the rest of the audience.
We had just watched Of Gods and Men. It tells the remarkable story of the French Cistercians who refused to leave their monastery in Algeria, despite threats of violence from Islamic extremists. The monks were eventually killed in 1996. The two hour film shows the monks’ gentle outreach to their Muslim neighbours, to whom they provide much-needed medical care and other services. When the insurgents arrive, they find themselves faced with an impossible decision: to flee, or to stand their ground and be faithful to their vocation.
Of Gods and Men won the Grand Prix at the Cannes film festival and is in contention for an Oscar at the Academy Awards. Some 3 million people have viewed it in France alone.
The film serves as a powerful affirmation of religious life and community life in particular. At a time of great uncertainty and doubt, this film is hugely inspiring and encouraging.
It is not on general release but is showing at The Lighthouse cinema in Smithfield in Dublin at 3.15pm and 8pm until Thursday of this week (13th). It will run again from Thursday 13th into next week but possibly at different times so it’s worth checking with the cinema (Tel. 01-879 7601).
It runs for two hours and is subtitled so bring your spectacles!
I guarantee you won’t regret the effort. Anyone who believes in the value of religious life today will be both moved and uplifted.
– Andrew O’Connell