Des hommes et des dieux provides a rare insight into philosophical ideas surrounding the theological–humanist realm. The film‘s religious and political posturing is set amid an ex–French colony‘s Islamic militant uprising. It is a study of conviction, dedication, and loyalties –to church, state, and self. Sweeping shots and cinematography that invokes a sense of foreboding frames a backdrop of Algerian Mediterrenean splendour that is mired by murder, subjugation and threats of violence.
Xavier Beauvois has sculpted a film that relates the hope of humanity with its insecurities and compromises, and one can‘t help but feel the presence (or influence) of Camus in the work. At times the film loses pace and relevance to its central narrative. However, this perhaps provides reflection on its monastic surroundings and religious themes. The film is utterly compelling; it is graceful and thoughtful in both composition and execution. Crucially, the audience is invited to delve beneath the somewhat melancholic and theological surface; wherein lies a rich bounty of questions about ourselves and our humanity and compulsions.
Of Gods and Men won the Grand Jury prize at Cannes and opens on May 26th.