Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Des Hommes Et Des Dieux
France, 2010. Why Not Productions, Armada Films, France 3 Cinéma, France Télévision, Canal+, CinéCinéma, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Cinémage 4, Cofinova 6, Soficinéma 6. Scenario by Etienne Comar, dialogue by Xavier Beauvois. Cinematography by Caroline Champetier. Produced by Pascal Caucheteux, Etienne Comar, Gregoire Sorlat. Music by Mike Kourtzer. Production Design by Michel Barthelemy. Costume Design by Marielle Robaut. Film Editing by Marie-Julie Maille.
This heartbreaking true story examines a group of French monks living in a monastery in an Algerian village. They have been aiding the villagers for years and, at the point that the film begins, find themselves concerned about the threat of rebel forces coming to turn them out and, very likely, slaughter them. The men gather together to discuss the possibilities on a regular basis, veering between courageous devotion to their calling and a wholly sensible desire to not give up their lives to the whims of Muslim extremists, but what impresses most is not simply the dramatic crisis at the heart of this story: director Xavier Beauvois has done a magnificent job of creating a film whose glacier pace contributes to its tension, creating the sense of serenity and desire for peace that permeates these mens’ lives. Beauvois basically remakes Into Great Silence with a narrative drive, and the performances from the actors are authentic to the point of total transparency (if cast members such as Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale were not already so famous their professional status would be a surprise). A marvelous experience that leads towards a heartbreaking conclusion.
Cannes Film Festival Award: Grand Jury Prize
European Film Award Nominations: Best European Film; Best European Cinematographer
Toronto International Film Festival: 2010