This is a beautiful film, and a great one. It’s filled with gorgeous imagery (such as the one above), but it is also beautifully written and acted. It is not surprisingly a deeply spiritual film, and it certainly helps to have an understanding of Christianity, because the film seemed highly allegorical to me. But even without that, the film can be appreciated. If you only had a passing description of it, it may seem like something that would be a dull film, but acts early in the film put the Trappist monks in jeopardy and provides conflict and high tension throughout the film.
Speaking of allegory, what I noted was:
- the main character being named Christian / Christ. (Interesting the character Luc was a physician, and Saint Luke is the patron saint of physicians.)
- the Last Supper towards the end of the film
- the army being the Romans and the terrorists being the Pharisees
- the moment when Christian is in the garden in anguish reminded me of Christ in Gethsemane
I wasn’t paying attention to that so much at first, but towards the end, I noticed it more. I mention it here because being aware of this earlier may help you pick up things that I missed.
The film ends in an ambiguous way. I didn’t appreciate this until later, when I found there was uncertainty over the fate of the monks as well.
Very highly recommended.
A minor note: Lambert Wilson plays Christian in this film and can be said to represent Christ (to some degree). In the second and third Matrix films, he plays the Merovingian, who can be said to symbolize the devil in that film. Indeed, the actor comes across very differently in each film, and it took me some time looking at him in this film before I made the connection.
For a good review of the film, see ‘Of Gods and Men,’ a True Story of Monks in Algeria by A.O. Scott in the NYTimes.com
Some interesting observations.
As I watched the trailer to this film last night, I realized how profoundly my personal views on organized religion have changed over the years. Especially since the revelations (no pun intended) of child sexual abuse scandals & the pope’s involvement in trying to cover up these heinous acts.
In our own home community, the recent news of Bishop Lahey (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/05/04/bishop-raymond-lahey-trial-start-ottawa.html) have only fuelled my cynicism & disenfranchisement with ALL organized religions. As the old saying goes: “Absolute power, corrupts” is indeed (and sadly), a well-proven axiom. That said, I always try very hard, NOT to judge any individual too harshly. One never knows the motivations or impetus behind their ideals or behaviours. Your critique makes me want to see the film, in spite of my tainted view of the church. Sounds to me like maybe this film warrants a second viewing?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.
It’s a great film, and it’s worth seeing on it’s own, though I respect your feelings about the other things you mentioned. Sometimes in families there are bad people, but there are lots of good people too, and we should be able to see past the bad people to the good people. Same goes for these monks. Plus it is just a really good film.
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