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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Of Gods and Men

Critics claim it's 'one of the best films ever made about the Christian life'

Movie still from 'Of Gods and Men'

Of Gods and Men is one of the best films ever made about the Christian life. It's a deeply human and spiritually enlightening French film about the events leading up to the kidnapping and murder of seven Roman Catholic monks in Algeria in 1996.

These humble and hardworking Christians are shocked when they learn of the violence of Islamic fundamentalists in the area. A government representative advises the monks to leave to avoid the coming bloodshed. But their neighbors in the Muslim village rely upon their medical services.

It's fascinating to watch these disciplined believers wrestle with their consciences as to whether they will remain or run in the face of certain death. After much soul-searching, they decide to stay.

In the film's most poignant moment, one brother brings out two bottles of wine and puts a recording of "Swan Lake" on the record player. As the monks celebrate their community, there is a bittersweet mixture of joy and sadness among them.

The director, Xavier Beauvois, moves the camera from face to face, capturing the beauty of their individual souls and the deep bonds that tie them together.

It is one of those transcendent moments in cinema where the spiritual qualities of believers shine brightly from their hearts to ours, leaving us with a vision of unforgettable radiance (Sony Pictures Classics, PG-13 for momentary scene of startling wartime violence, some disturbing images, brief language).


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