Wendy M. Wright: Of Gods and Men
It is, I am sure, not surprising that an essay on the 2010 French film Of Gods and Men, directed by Xavier Beauvois, should be included in a journal dedicated to religion and film. The fictionalized subject of the film, the internationally-publicized 1996 incident during which seven Trappist monks were engulfed by the drama of the ongoing Algerian Civil War and assassinated, features overtly religious characters. However, Of Gods and Men is not religious merely because of its subject matter but because it is able, through the visual medium, to explore in a compelling way the experience of human religiosity at its most intimate. This is a film that focuses deftly on the particularities of Christianity and of Christian monastic life but, even more than this, it explores the complexities of the human heart that is oriented toward ultimacy and honors the way in which religious practices and ideals enable persons to live deeply and courageously.