Most of us will never face the spectacular decision which confronted the monks of Tibhirine. Based on events in Algeria in 1995, Of Gods and Men is the story of a grave choice: Do the monks return home to France OR remain in their village, risking death at the hands of Islamist terrorists who have threatened anyone whose religion does not perfectly align with their own? It is not only the monks who are threatened, but the villagers too live in fear and hope the foreigners’ presence will protect them.
While we may never experience such a choice, among the film’s many beauties is the invitation to consider deeply how we decide. In this sense, Of Gods and Men is contemplative, both for its affect and the tenderness it shows to the monks who must ponder their end. These are men who, having left everything on God’s behalf, must now question– sometimes with anger–what else they must relinquish. What resources can be drawn from at such a moment?
Watching this fragile community come to their decision invites our own contemplation. The thousands of choices–most small, some spectacular–we make each day come from somewhere. This film asks that we consider just where that place is.