Of Gods and Men

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In the midst of action thrillers and wacky comedies, I watched this low-key movie based on actual events, which is about nothing more or less than the nature of Christian devotion and martyrdom. Quite the change of pace.

It's set in 1996 Algeria, then in the throes of a civil war between Islamic fundamentalists and the military government. Caught in the middle is a Catholic monastery containing eight French monks. They offer medical services to the small town of Tibhirine, and are seemingly beloved by the inhabitants.

But the rebels in the area are a pretty nasty bunch, fond of throat-cutting and other atrocities against foreigners and the insufficiently Islamic. The monks are (correctly) convinced that it's only a matter of time before they're targeted. So the question becomes: do they scamper back to France, and safety? Or do they continue with their ministry? The debate is initially fractious, but by the end unanimity prevails as each dissenter comes to terms with his duty.

Well-acted, and probably deserved the Oscar nomination it didn't get. If you watch it at normal speed, it's slightly over two hours of subtitle reading. Admission: I lay down and slept on my first attempt. But But the next day I watched it on my laptop at 1.4x speed, and stayed awake. Go, thou, and do likewise.

Last Modified 2012-09-25 12:04 PM EDT