Of Gods and Men
(M) Sony DVD
Of Gods and Men retells the story of the 1996 Tibhirine massacre, when seven French Cistercian monks were kidnapped and killed. In dramatising the events that transpired, director Xavier Beauvois doesn’t seem interested in solving this mystery but he is deeply interested in why they didn’t try to save their lives. He is interested in the faith that sustains their call to ministry.
For Christian viewers the answer is their devotion to God, which is abundantly evident in their daily prayer, worship and care for the Muslim villagers close the monastery — this close knit group of men are living in and practising Christian community.
More pointedly, Of Gods and Men has some very vigorous discussions about the very nature of giving one’s life for God.
It is hard not to be caught in the dilemma of the monks’ desperate circumstance and the film deals with their crises of faith in a way that is relatable, devastating and achingly moving.
“We are martyrs out of love, out of fidelity. Love endures everything,” one monk cries as he embraces another. “It is through poverty and death that we advance towards Him.”
This film is a transcendent meditation on faith and sacrifice that won’t be an easy experience to shake.