Thursday, 27 May 2010

Des hommes et des Dieux

Des hommes et des Dieux - which seems to be being translated as Of Gods and Men, in a kind of reversal of the title in the original French - is a film based on the story of the Cistercian monks of the Atlas mountains who died in Algeria in 1996. The film won the Grand Prix (the kind of "second prize", if I have understood it correctly) at the Cannes film festival this year. It was also awarded the prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the same festival.

I was first alerted to this film by this post at Windowstothesoul and the report at Catholic News Agency.

The film does not I believe follow the true story of the monks in all its details, but is so far as I can tell a fair account. The incredible story of the Cistercian monastery in the Atlas can be found here. I am still waiting to find a full review of the film to which I can link.

I think that the film, and its success at Cannes, are interesting in several ways:

it is a film about monastic life, a style of life which is profoundly and utterly religious in its nature, and it is interesting to see the world of cinema being willing to engage with and to show appreciation for such a religious topic in a time characterised by secularisation

it is also a film about an encounter between Christian life and Islam, and so has a character of portraying an inter-religious dialogue in the form of a "dialogue of life", again a very interesting area for the world of cinema to explore

it portrays courage and charity of the highest degree, lived out from a religious motivation, but open to appreciation by those of no faith.

When I can find a good review to link to, I might well add to these comments.

UPDATE: SIGNIS have now placed a review/statement about the film on their site, and a report of the award of the Ecumenical Jury at Cannes.

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