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Of Gods and Men (2010)

Xavier Beauvois

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#181 Nick Olson

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 01:31 PM

Over at CaPC, I did an "elsewhere" link to Jeffrey's Comment review.

We started receiving some traffic this morning from Tim Challies's blog, and, this afternoon, the piece received this comment from a fellow:

But there is an obvious reason it didn’t catch on with evangelicals. It doesn’t reflect an understanding of what the Gospel is. For an evangelical it is depressing that these men give their lives without offering Life.


To which I said, in far more words, "huh?"

Conversation ensuing, and I don't think it's going to resolve well.

Edited by Nicholas, 07 March 2012 - 01:32 PM.


#182 SDG

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 01:49 PM

We started receiving some traffic this morning from Tim Challies's blog, and, this afternoon, the piece received this comment from a fellow:

But there is an obvious reason it didn’t catch on with evangelicals. It doesn’t reflect an understanding of what the Gospel is. For an evangelical it is depressing that these men give their lives without offering Life.


To which I said, in far more words, "huh?"

Conversation ensuing, and I don't think it's going to resolve well.

I addressed this issue here, although my definition of "the Gospel" as "God sent His Son Jesus to be born, to die and rise again to save us" is probably insufficient for this fellow, given his prejudicial, erroneous ideas about Romish "works salvation."

#183 Overstreet

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 01:55 PM

Nicholas: Your excerpt from my review is actually from the early, uncorrected version. An error in the last paragraph of your excerpt led to a lot of misunderstandings. If you could possibly update your excerpt to reflect the revised, corrected version of that paragraph, I would be grateful, and it might prevent some confusion among your readers.

Otherwise, thank you for linking to the article!

Edited by Overstreet, 07 March 2012 - 01:55 PM.


#184 Nick Olson

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 01:58 PM

Oh, yeah, I'll pass the edited version along to my editor to fix the piece.

Sorry about that!

#185 Nick Olson

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 02:08 PM

I may link to it, SDG, though I think you're right that it may not do any good for this fellow to see a review from the National Catholic Register.

...which is sad. I'm as frustrated as you are by the attitude reflected in his comments.

***Taken care of, Jeffrey.

Edited by Nicholas, 07 March 2012 - 02:11 PM.


#186 BethR

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 01:57 PM

E-mail interview with Trappist monks adds some insight to this film, as well as to Into Great Silence

[On] one level ... silence is in our lives to create an ambience of recollection so I'll remember and honor God's presence. On another level, silence reminds me that the misuse of words, the abuse of language can also be the sinful abuse of people; silence for us means not talking, more than not making noise… On yet another level, silence means listening. We follow the Rule of St. Benedict and the first word of that Rule is "Listen." That's the great ethical element of silence: to check my words and listen to another point of view. I'll never have any real peace should my sense of well-being depend on soundless peace. When I can learn the patience of receiving, in an unthreatened way, what I'd rather not hear, then I can have a real measure of peace in any situation.


Edited by BethR, 12 June 2012 - 02:01 PM.


#187 Darrel Manson

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 05:08 PM

FB post from Religion and Ethics Newsweekly:

 

Algeria has given a French judge permission to exhume http://f24.my/1b76a36 and autopsy the decapitated heads of the French monks killed in Algeria in 1996 and featured in the 2011 movie “Of Gods and Men,” a meditation on Muslim-Christian relations. The film was based on the book “The Monks of Tibhirine” by John Kiser. http://to.pbs.org/18VSuMh The bodies of the monks were never found. Watch our interview with Rev. James Martin, SJ about the film. http://www.pbs.org/w...s-and-men/8533/



#188 Anodos

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 09:24 AM

This was screened on BBC4 on Sunday, and anyone in the UK can watch it on BBC iPlayer:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...f_Gods_and_Men/

Really pleased to think this might have brought it to a somewhat wider audience. It deserves to be seen.



#189 SDG

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 12:06 PM



This was screened on BBC4 on Sunday, and anyone in the UK can watch it on BBC iPlayer:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...f_Gods_and_Men/

Really pleased to think this might have brought it to a somewhat wider audience. It deserves to be seen.

 

Thanks for calling this out. Apparently it's also newly available on Blu-ray in the UK. (It seems an odd strategy: Usually a new physical media release is the occasion of free broadcast/streaming access drying up, no?)

 

My reflections on religious identity in the film, and the overall significance of the film's exploration of the Christian ideal, has been consolidated into a single essay: 

 

How Catholic is Of Gods and Men?

Religious Identity in the Story of the Monks of Tibhirine

 

Has any dramatic feature film ever more powerfully communicated the beauty and attractiveness of lived Christian faith, and of the Christian faith itself, than Xavier Beauvois’ Of Gods and Men?


Edited by SDG, 03 December 2013 - 12:15 PM.


#190 Anodos

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 08:11 AM

 



This was screened on BBC4 on Sunday, and anyone in the UK can watch it on BBC iPlayer:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...f_Gods_and_Men/

Really pleased to think this might have brought it to a somewhat wider audience. It deserves to be seen.

 

Thanks for calling this out. Apparently it's also newly available on Blu-ray in the UK. (It seems an odd strategy: Usually a new physical media release is the occasion of free broadcast/streaming access drying up, no?)

It's quite possible that the release company would prefer it to garner a wide exposure, so that more people are actually aware it exists. Although purely as an amateur, I have such an interest in niche/art films that I'm occasionally startled to discover how few people have ever even heard of them.

 

 

 

My reflections on religious identity in the film, and the overall significance of the film's exploration of the Christian ideal, has been consolidated into a single essay.

I have bookmarked it! Will read when I have more time.



#191 SDG

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 07:53 AM

Well…this goes on a shortlist among the most gratifying reader letters I've ever received -- from the monastic adviser to the makers of Of Gods and Men, and a friend of the monks of Tibhirine. 
 
Although he praises my review of the film, he appears in fact to be speaking of my essay on the film's religious themes
 

Many thanks to Steven D. Greydanus for his review of "Of Gods and Men". I was the monastic advisor on the film and his piece is probably the best I've read so far. If Steven D. Greydanus wants to know more about the making of the movie he should read my book (in French or Italian) "Secret des hommes, secret des dieux", Presses de la Renaissance, in which I try and explain how the Holy Spirit worked throughout the whole process of this incredible movie. The monks of Tibhirine were my friends and still are. Xavier Beauvois and his team came to meet them and I can even witness to the fact that snow fell and melted for the final shot against all odds. Steven D. Greydanus seems to imply that only "non believers" worked on this movie but I am a devout Christian and I was there right from the beginning to the very end. I just wanted Steven D. Greydanus to know because God can make himself known without our contribution but usually He asks us to give a hand. I was blessed to be chosen here in an amazing fashion as I explain in my book. Everything from A to Z seemed to come from Him. God bless you! Henry Quinson, Marseilles, France

  
My reply: 
 

Dear Mr. Quinson,

I am deeply gratified by your kind note. The privilege of writing about Of Gods and Men remains a high point in my critical career; I have sometimes felt as if God called me to be a film critic to review this film, and my first 10 years on the job were preparation. 
 
I wish I read French or Italian so that I could read your book. I have read many accounts of the movie production process, and seen the hand of God at work in some of them, but I would love to know more about the stories you have to tell about this film. 
 
I believe you are alluding to a remark in my essay "How Catholic Is Of Gods and Men?" characterizing the film as "not made by believers for believers." That phrase "by believers for believers" is certainly not meant to imply that no believers worked on the film; I would never presume to say such a thing about any film in the world! In this case I knew that some people involved in making the film (including, I have heard, at least one of the actors playing one of the main characters) were believers, so that was not my intent at all. 
 
Rather, I meant to distinguish the film from the phenomenon of what we sometimes call in English a "faith-based film," meaning a film created by a production company with explicitly religious identity and mission, very often sponsored by or affiliated with a church or parachurch organization, and written by, directed by and usually starring believers, resulting in a film that, whatever the filmmakers may have hoped would be its evangelistic appeal to nonbelievers, in fact effectively winds up "preaching to the choir" of the filmmakers' fellow believers. 
 
As you know, Of Gods and Men received overwhelming critical acclaim and won the Grand Prix at Cannes, among many other accolades, and did very well with the public, topping the French box office for four weeks and outperforming distributor expectations here in the United States. It is a film that speaks powerfully to audiences who do not share the monks' faith, in part, I think, because Xavier Beauvois and Etienne Comar approached the material with the same sort of artistic objectivity that they would bring to any subject, in terms of its human interest rather than its religious significance (though of course the monks' religious beliefs were part of that human interest). 
 
This is what I meant by "not made by believers for believers."
 
Thanks again for writing.



#192 Christian

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 09:08 AM

That's exciting, Steven.

 

If you ever learn more about the people who worked on the film, I'd be curious to know about the cinematographer, Caroline Champetier, who I only recently discovered, while looking at the credits for Hannah Arendt, also shot this film and Holy Motors. Based on those three movies, she may be the best cinematographer working today. I don't know whether or not she's a believer, and am not sure I care all that much -- her work speaks for itself -- but the correspondence above has me wondering. 



#193 Anodos

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 10:30 AM

That's exciting, Steven.

It was a fantastic essay, so I'm glad he got in touch.

 

 

If you ever learn more about the people who worked on the film, I'd be curious to know about the cinematographer, Caroline Champetier, who I only recently discovered, while looking at the credits for Hannah Arendt, also shot this film and Holy Motors. Based on those three movies, she may be the best cinematographer working today. 

And Ponette! Great film, and the one that led me to Jeffrey Overstreet's website. I have a lot to thank it for...

 

As to the best cinematographers, there are the usual suspects - Roger Deakins, Emmanuel Lubezki, etc - but I'd like to flag up Luca Bigazzi, who's done some really stylish work on Paolo Sorrentino's movies - including The Consequences Of Love, Il Divo, and The Great Beauty - and also shot Certified Copy.



#194 Darrel Manson

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 06:34 PM

In the March 19 The Christian Century that arrived today there is a review of a book: The Last Monk of Tibhiorine: A True Story of Martyrdom, Faith, and Survival by Freddy Derwahl.  Derwahl was a prospective monk in the 80s who got to know the monks.  In 2011 he went to a monastery in Morocco to visit Br. Jean-Pierre Schumcher, one of two Tibhirine monks not killed..



#195 SDG

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Posted 20 June 2014 - 06:00 AM

So wow. How cool is this? From Marseilles, Henry Quinson writes:
 

I was the monastic advisor on Of Gods and Men, and your piece is probably the best I’ve read so far. If you want to know more about the making of the movie, you should read my book (in French or Italian) Secret des hommes, secret des dieux (Presses de la Renaissance), in which I try and explain how the Holy Spirit worked throughout the whole process of this incredible movie.

The monks of Tibhirine were my friends and still are. Xavier Beauvois and his team came to meet them, and I can even witness to the fact that snow fell and melted for the final shot against all odds.

 

Mr. Quinson goes on to take issue with a phrase from my essay "How Catholic is Of Gods and Men?" ("not made by believers for believers") which he takes to imply that no believers worked on the film. Obviously I clarify this. 



#196 Christian

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Posted 20 June 2014 - 06:31 AM

Nice!



#197 Rushmore

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Posted 21 June 2014 - 01:47 PM

So wow. How cool is this? From Marseilles, Henry Quinson writes:

Ahem. (Still awesome, though.)


Edited by Rushmore, 21 June 2014 - 01:47 PM.


#198 SDG

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Posted 21 June 2014 - 02:25 PM

 

So wow. How cool is this? From Marseilles, Henry Quinson writes:

Ahem. (Still awesome, though.)

 

 

Heh. I forgot I posted that news when it happened. But NOW it's at Decent Films Mail! 







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