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Des hommes et des dieux Of men and gods by Xavier Beauvois

Cinéma de l’Olympia de Pontarlier à raison de 3.50 euro par élève.

Les 24 élèves de la classe de 4°2 ont pu voir ce film dès sa sortie en septembre. L’un des élèves de la classe ayant déjà vu le film, l’accroche a été facilitée.

Le compte-rendu est en fin de page.

Des hommes et des dieux

Of men and gods by Xavier Beauvois


You will certainly die like humans and fall like any prince”. Psalm 81 Bible


Title of the film:

Name of the film director:

Name of the convent:

Name of the country:

Pictural references to Mantegna and other  Italian painters:

1)How many monks (moines) are there?

How many times times can we see and hear the monks singing in the chapel?

2)What ‘s the colour of the shots like at the beginning of the film? At the end of the film?

3)Underline the elements which suggest peace in blue :

Je souligne  les mots qui suggèrent la paix en bleu:

the light, the landscape, trees, music, people walking to the convent, working in the garden, watering plants, sowing seeds (semer des graines), beehives (ruches), selling honey on the market, walking with the people from the community, looking after people, healing the sick (soigner les malades),

4)Title of the books on Brother Luc’s desk:

5)What do the monks eat? What do they drink?

6)What’s the name of the most important music played in the film?

7)Who was killed in the village?

8)How do the monks know what’s going on?

  1. TV
  2. People in the village

9)Light and the shining sun suggest:

  • peace
  • violence

10)Rain suggests:

-solutions  or the beginning of problems and tragedies

11) Select three sentences from the film and your favorite scene(s) (document de validation de  B2i)

12)Quelle scène met particulièrement en valeur les femmes?

13)True or false:

The people in the village like the monks

The people in the village do not appreciate the monk

Of Gods and Men

Written comprehension:

I underline the words which corresponds best to the true values, ideas and feelings developped by Xavier Beauvois in blue

and in red the words and actions which are  a danger for any community:

tolerant-tolerance- cooperative- violent- violence- blood- religious bigotry- community- peace- peaceful-strange behaviours- to behave (se comporter)

to help somebody- helpful – struggle- fight- respect-respectful- solutions- problems -issues -projects – to agree to be helpful:être serviable – to disagree with someone but communicate-

to have a different opinion and discuss different viewpoints- to communicate with- to socialize with – to be a great mixer- to care for -not to care for-  to be rude –


Qui dit quoi et à qui?

“On peut t’emmener au marché!”

“Qui tue qui?”

“Quand on est amoureux,

le coeur se met à battre, c’est un état de fait, le bonheur,

l’espoir du bonheur, un grand trouble…”

“T’as déjà été amoureux?”

“Oui, plusieurs fois, puis un autre amour plus grand est né, il y a 60 ans!”

” Celui qui tue son frère, il va en enfer!”

“C’est toi, le Pape”

“C’est une maison de paix ici!”

“On ne rentre pas ici avec des armes!”

“Je ne m’en sépare jamais!”

“Alors, suivez-moi!”

“Tu nous enterreras tous!”


    Si l’on ne voit dans le film que les passages en chapelle et que l’on entend que le son des cloches ou encore que l’on s’abstient de le voir à cause de ces passages, on peut dire que l’on passe à côté du propos du réalisateur Xavier Beauvois qui cherche à nous faire réfléchir.

    Il le fait de plusieurs manières:

    Comme vous avez été nombreux à le remarquer, les plans sont souvent statiques, le réalisateur nous offre une lecture contemplative du monde invitant au silence intérieur loin du « bruit et de la fureur » (Far from the madding crowd)

    -des paysages ensoleillés entourant cette communauté de moines et de villageois nous montrent la parfaite harmonie de leurs relations

    -C’est tout le contraire d’un film didactique qui nous imposerait une vision bigote de ou des religions. Sur le bureau de Frère Christian, on peut y voir côte à côte et la Bible et le Coran. L’image est silence du début à la fin du film (à l’exception de celles qui défilent à un rythme accéléré, celles qui sont là pour parler de la violence et du terrorisme).Le silence s’écrit comme un tableau rempli de lumière au début puis, la tragédie s’installant, l’obscurité est présente, les paysages sont habités par le brouillard et la neige.

    -Si le film a reçu le prix du ministère de l’Education Nationale, c’est bel et bien parce qu’il est un hommage à la mémoire de cette communauté, au respect de l’autre, à la tolérance, à l’engagement et à la liberté de choix. Il ne nous impose aucune lecture directe et nous laisse libre . Dérangeant, non?

    En nous livrant l’histoire des moines de Thibérine, (plusieurs orthographes sont envisageables)le réalisateur la présente de manière à ce qu’elle soit transposable à d’autres communautés, à n’importe quelle communauté (la carte du monde est toujours présente en arrière plan)

    Le film est écrit avec finesse: les références à la peinture italienne (Mantegna et Le Caravage) sont la marque d’un grand cinéaste qui sait donner de l’ampleur à son propos au point d’en faire une histoire qui dépasse largement celle des moines. La scène finale (partage du vin+ Lac des cygnes) est d’une beauté quasi inégalée pour suggérer le lien qui unit cette communauté, leur « savoir être » ensemble dans la tragédie qu’ils vivent et celle qui les attend.

Il ne fait aucun doute que le film restera dans vos mémoires ainsi que dans celle des cinéphiles et des archives des grands moments de l’histoire du cinéma et de l’humaine humanité face aux dérives terroristes de tout acabit. En guise de conclusion, l’on peut dire ici que le cinéma peut faire changer le monde et avoir un effet de baume apaisant quand il apporte un message d’espoir au-delà des tragédies qui le traversent.

Marie André-Milesi


Compilation de documents autour du film

“They called the terrorists ‘the brothers from the mountain’ and called the people from the army ‘the brothers from the plain.’ … It seems totally coherent for the movie to adopt their point of view.”

Beauvois presents religion as a deeply personal affair

Film très profond qui peut être vu par un très large public. L’histoire n’est pas là pour nous parler de politique, de violence ou de racisme, mais pour nous faire comprendre que des peuples, bien qu’ils aient des religions différentes, peuvent se comprendre, s’aimer, s’aider, en faisant passer l’amour de l’être humain avant toute opinion politique ou religieuse. Le film nous montre que les gens peuvent trouver en chaque être humain un frère, que chacun se situe au même niveau. Les musulmans sont aussi martyrisés que les catholiques, et Xavier Beauvois nous montre les côtés positifs qu’il y a en chacun de nous. Il veut nous montrer le côté humain avant le côté religieux.

Ce film s’inspire librement de la vie des Moines Cisterciens de Tibhirine en Algérie de 1993 jusqu’à leur enlèvement en 1996.

Roseaux – « cistels » – des bords de Saône qui ont donné leur nom à l’abbaye de Cîteaux.

Réfectoire de l’abbaye de Fountains (Yorkshire)

L’ordre cistercien (Ordo cisterciensis, o.cist.), également connu sous le nom d’ordre de Cîteaux ou encore de saint ordre de Cîteaux (Sacer ordo cisterciensis, s.o.c.) est un ordre monastique chrétien réformé, dont l’origine remonte à la fondation de l’abbaye de Cîteaux par Robert de Molesme en 1098.

Actor-director Xavirer Beauvois, who made Don’f Forget You Are Going to Die (N’oublie pas que tu vas Mourir) (1995), returns to the Competition this year with Of Men and Gods (Des Hommes et des Dieux), a drama based on a true story.

After starting out as an assistant director for Manoel de Oliveira, Xavier Beauvois won the Prix du Jury for Don’t Forget You Are Going to Die in 1995. His new film, Of Men and Gods, retraces the abduction and massacre of the monks of Tibhirine in 1996, in the middle of the Algerian civil war. Almost fifteen years have passed since the tragic events that inspired this feature film, but the mystery of the motivations and identity of those responsible remains sealed.

The seven Trappist monks of the Tibhirine Monastery, whose leader is played by Lambert Wilson, were abducted in the night of the 26-27 March 1996. Their bodies were found two months later. This horror was initially attributed to the GIA (Groupe Islamique Armé). But in 2009, former General Buchwalter implicated the Algerian army which, he claimed, machine gunned the monks by mistake and afterwards arranged their bodies so as not to be held responsible.

This explosive context explains the choice of Morocco rather than Algeria as the shoot location for reasons of security. Of Men and Gods concentrates on the period that precedes the monks’ abduction and the Tibhirine Monastery was recreated for the occasion by set designer Michel Barthélémy, who was awarded a César for his work on A Prophet.

Cinema. In the night between March 26th and 27th 1996 an armed group kidnapped seven French Cistercian monks living in the monastery of Tibhirine, in the mountains of the Algerian Atlas. Two months later, after unsuccessful negotiations with the French government, the GIA (Armed Islamic Group) announced through a Moroccan radio station the murder of the monks. Their heads were found on May 30th close to the city of Medea. But their bodies remained missing.

In the 1990s, at the core of a bloody conflict between the Algerian state and terrorist groups that caused thousands of deaths, the monks’ killing created a big wave of shock. The circumstances of their rapt and death are still unclear though. In 2003 doubts regarding the official version were publicly raised after the publication of an enquiry by the American journalist John Kiser (The Monks of Tibhirine Faith, love, and terror in Algeria), in which Kiser also analysed the political machinations that brought Algeria to the situation of civil war. In the same year the family of Brother Christophe Lebreton, one of the seven assassinated monks, pressed charges against X. The revelations of France’s former military attaché in Algiers, the General François Buchwalter, further raised the possibility of an implication or a blunder of the Algerian army. “Failures” in negotiations from the French side were also discussed. In 2009 French president Nicolas Sarkozy promised to reveal the state’s confidential documents that the investigative magistrate Marc Trévidic would need. Since then, silence had fallen again on the case.

When politics try to burry an embarrassing issue, the civil society is sometimes there to remind of open wounds. Many people were deeply moved by the tragic ending of the monks of Tibhirine. So was the French movie producer Etienne Comar. In 2006 he was attending the Cannes film festival. It was the 10th anniversary of the monks’ murder and several articles had been published in newspapers and magazines to remember the sad event. Comar, who was raised in a liberal Catholic family, became passionate about the story. He started the writing of a scenario, which took him two years. Under a pseudonym he sent it to the director Xavier Beauvois, who immediately felt a strong empathy for the story. It took both men another two years to finally produce the film, which received the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Festival.

“You will certainly die like humans and fall like any prince”. The psalm 82:7 of the Bible inspired the movie’s title “Of Men and Gods”. The movie, that was shot in December last year in Morocco, in the region of Azrou, depicts the life of the Cistercian monks of Tibhirine between 1993 and the night of their abduction.

For people who would be keen on seeing another contribution to the polemic around the circumstances of the monks’ death, “Of Men and Gods” will certainly appear quite disappointing. One firstly discovers the simple, basic daily life of a small group of Christian devouts in an remote area of the Algerian countryside. Brother Luc (played by Michael Lonsdale), an 82-year-old doctor, receives every day the sick of the village, which is located close to the monastery. The monks are invited to local celebrations, such as the circumcision fest of a villager’s son. Brother Christian (played by Lambert Wilson) studies the Coran in his free time. The sound of the Church bell and the one of the muezzin join every morning. One discovers the strong relationship between the monks and the inhabitants of the village, who are also scared by the troubled events and the growing insecurity in their country.

The movie shows the evolution towards a climate of growing terror and fear. It comes back on the murder of Croatian building workers in February 1994, close to Tibhirine (the workers are sometimes presented as Bosnians). In one scene, an old villager reports how a young girl was knifed in the bus and expressed the complete incomprehension towards such situation. In real life the monks denounced the events they were witnessing in the French Catholic daily newspaper La Croix: “If we remain silent, the stones of the Oued will scream”. They refused the insistent offer made by the wali (prefect) of the neighbouring city of Medea to have the monastery under military protection.

Brother Christophe (played by Olivier Rabourdin), who at a time was very scared and fearing for his own life, once asked Brother Christian ironically about the possibility of an attack by terrorists: “And if they come, shall we kindly let them kill us?”. To which Brother Christian quietly answered: “This is a risk”.

Screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Xavier BeauvoisDes hommes et des dieux / Of Gods and Men, starring Lambert Wilson (above, left) and Michael Lonsdale, tackles the gruesome, real-life horror story set in 1996 Algeria, when seven French monks were beheaded by Islamic militants. Or were they?

In 1992, when it became clear that Algerian voters were going to elect Islamic candidates, the army intervened so as to save the country’s “democracy” — by destroying it. A civil war between the two groups ensued, leaving more than 200,000 dead in that country of 27 million. The rest of world, as usual, mostly looked away.

Whole villages were massacred during that time — by either side, with one group blaming the other — but more than anything, what caught the attention of the rest of the world was the plight of the seven Christian Europeans caught in the Muslim crossfire.

Instead of focusing on the politics behind the kidnapping and murder of the French monks, Beauvois’ chief concern according to reviewers is on the monks’ own inner struggles. In fact, despite its horror-movie setting, the Toronto Star‘s Peter Howell has called Of Gods and Men “a beautifully acted and directed work of uplift and inspiration.” (Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter was much less enthusiastic, calling the film “ponderous.”)

So when snow starts to fall and the old doctor brings about a couple of good bottles of red and plays Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” you know their goose is cooked.

“What interested me was the story of these men, who they were, and the rest, well, we don’t really know,” Beauvois remarked in a news conference. The director, who co-wrote Of Gods and Men with Etienne Comar, added that he personally believed that their deaths were the result of a blunder by the Algerian military.

“The monks insisted on being extremely neutral, on not taking sides,” Comar told the press. “They called the terrorists ‘the brothers from the mountain’ and called the people from the army ‘the brothers from the plain.’ … It seems totally coherent for the movie to adopt their point of view.”

Of Gods and Men

Des hommes et des dieux (France)


‘Of Gods and Men’

A Mars Distribution release of a Why Not Prods., Armada Films, France 3 Cinema production, in association with Cinemage 4, Cofinova 6, Soficinema 6, with participation of France Televisions, Canal Plus, CineCinema, Centre National de la Cinematographie et de l’Image Animee. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Pascal Caucheteux, Etienne Comar. Executive producers, Martine Cassinelli, Frantz Richard. Directed by Xavier Beauvois. Screenplay, Beauvois, Etienne Comar.

With: Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Olivier Rabourdin, Philippe Laudenbach, Jacques Herlin, Loic Pichon, Xavier Maly, Jean-Marie Frin, Abdelhafid Metalsi, Sabrina Ouazani, Abdallah Moundy, Olivier Perrier, Farid Larbi, Adel Bencherif.

Faith in the resonant powers of filmmaking is what drives Xavier Beauvois’ “Of Gods and Men.” Based on an actual incident in which seven French monks were allegedly executed by Islamists during the Algerian Civil War, the pic eschews the hostage-crisis scenario to concentrate on the weeks leading up to their deaths, transforming what could have been an ordinary docudrama into a transfixing meditation on religious conviction, post-colonial strife and the force of actors who elevate every gesture to a loftier domain. This consummate work by the “Le petit lieutenant” helmer will convert serious moviegoers to its cause.

The 1996 event took place in and around a Trappist monastery located in the pastoral highlands 90 kilometers south of Algiers, and bordering a village the film depicts as a source of benevolent pride for the monks, who provide free medical care and assistance with bureaucratic chores and take part in local Muslim traditions.

Rather than depicting a land ravaged by a decade-long conflict that pitted the Algerian government against various radical Islamic groups, the scenario (written by Beauvois and producer Etienne Comar) begins by delicately plunging us into the bucolic life of the monastery, headed by Christian (Lambert Wilson), a scholar who can quote both the Bible and the Koran at will, and whose tragically assertive beliefs are part of what drives the brothers to their doom.

The daily routines of eating, farming, reciting liturgy and singing a series of mesmerizing Gregorian chants are depicted with realistic fidelity, creating a concentrated, almost mystical atmosphere that, as the war nears, serves as a force of spiritual resistance against threats posed by the Islamists (who demand medical supplies and attention), as well as the army (who demand that they accept protection, which Christian adamantly refuses).

As the film patiently (perhaps too much so for some) heads toward its foregone conclusion, Beauvois gradually raises his style to a level of baroqueness reminiscent of 1995’s “Don’t Forget You’re Going to Die,” reaching a crescendo when the brothers stand and sing together as a helicopter hovers over the monastery, as if the very resonance of their voices would be enough to drive the terror away.

In another bravura scene set on the eve of their kidnapping, the monks indulge in a few bottles of wine while Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” plays on a radio, their faces captured by talented d.p. Caroline Champetier (a regular collaborator) in increasingly tight frames that evoke Renaissance portraits and, literally speaking, Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”

While Christian initially faces some reluctance from his colleagues, their attachment to God, the land and each other ultimately keeps them from fleeing. By showing that these Catholics are as persuaded as their Muslim captors, Beauvois presents religion as a deeply personal affair that can bring believers to a higher state of consciousness, or else send them the wrong message. He also hints at the monks’ troubled ties to the Algerian authorities, who still look upon them as colonists and offer protection only out of obligation (recent testimony has asserted that the monks were in fact killed by military error and not by the kidnappers).

In a pic that’s mostly performance-driven, the cast is subtly but incredibly effective, with Wilson (known Stateside for his roles in “The Matrix” sequels) leading the pack as a smart and stubborn leader who believes that an ultimate good will prevail, even if it’s after his death.

As the asthmatic and sensitive Luc, the highly engaging Michael Lonsdale (“Munich”) offers up many pleasurable moments.

Although press notes indicate the English-language title as “Of Gods and Men,” the subtitles on the print read “Of Men and Gods.”

Camera (color, widescreen), Caroline Champetier; editor, Marie-Julie Maille; production designer, Michel Barthelemy; costume designer, Marielle Robaut; sound (Dolby Digital), Jean-Jacques Ferran; re-recording mixer, Eric Bonnard; assistant director, Guillaume Bonnier; casting, Brigitte Moidon. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (competing), May 18, 2010. Running time: 122 MIN.

Read more: http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117942804.html?categoryid=2531&cs=1&ref=ssp#ixzz10pmEpSLS
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« Des hommes et des dieux » de Xavier Beauvois

Une analyse de Nadine Labouz

Drame : 2 h 00

Un monastère cistercien dans un coin perdu de l’Atlas, au sud d’Alger,  neuf moines trappistes y vivent en harmonie avec leurs voisins du village de Tibhirine, étonnant amoncellement de pauvres maisons accrochées aux pentes de la montagne.

La vie s’écoule paisiblement, entre les taches quotidiennes, le travail de la terre, les offices, les marchés. Chrétiens et musulmans s’entraident et partagent les moments de joie et de fêtes. Frère Luc, médecin, soignent grands et petits dans son dispensaire.

La caméra capte la beauté des gestes, l’éternité d’instants : Frère Luc expliquant à une jeune villageoise qui l’interroge ce qu’est l’amour, chrétiens et musulmans priant ensemble d’une seule voix.

Les groupes terroristes font régner la terreur. Les moines, directement menacés, doivent choisir de partir, comme le leur demandent les autorités, ou de rester, comme le leur demande la population qui tente de résister.

Vivre son engagement au quotidien en pratiquant la vie simple, l’amour, la charité, la prière… Mais vivre comme Jésus jusque dans sa fin, résister avec ces villageois… Vaincre le doute, la peur, choisir sa place.

Avec infiniment de pudeur et de délicatesse, la caméra filme l’humanité de ces hommes qui hésitent et luttent, avec retenue et distance, et parfois un clin d’œil d’autodérision, quand les mots prononcés sont trop lourds.

Pas de coupables. Pas de héros non plus, juste des hommes face à la barbarie terroriste ou, on le soupçonne, gouvernementale. Et parmi eux Frère Luc, interprété par Michael Lonsdale, personnage hors du commun, impressionnant de calme tranquille et de sang froid.

Les références au nouveau testament (le jardin de Gethsémani, la Cène…) sont discrètes. Les valeurs véhiculées (la possibilité de vivre ensemble, le droit de vivre à l’endroit de son choix, l’amour, la compassion, le partage, le courage, la liberté) sont universelles et les pistes d’étude multiples.

La conférence de presse du film de Xavier Beauvois, Des hommes et des dieux, s’est déroulée ce matin. Le réalisateur était accompagné des acteurs Michael Lonsdale et  Lambert Wilson, et du scénariste Etienne Comar.

Morceaux choisis.

Lambert Wilson à propos de ses convictions religieuses personnelles :

Je ne supporte pas les dogmes, même si j’ai du respect pour les religieux. Je pense que le film a véritablement le pouvoir d’aider les gens, il va bien au-delà de la religion. Il nous montre l’essentiel, c’est-à-dire l’échange d’amour entre les êtres.

Lambert Wilson explique l’évolution des rapports entre les membres de l’équipe pendant le tournage:

Curieusement, cette fusion qu’ont ressenti les moines, nous l’avons aussi vécu. Nous avons fusionné dans les retraites et fait des chants liturgiques. Le chant a un pouvoir fédérateur. Avec toute l’équipe, nous avons une relation de fraternité désormais. Nous nous retrouvons au Festival comme des frères, et non simplement comme des professionnels venus présenter un film.


Xavier Beauvois, sur la lenteur qui se dégage de certaines scènes du film :

Nous sommes dans une société où il faut aller vite, notamment au travers de la pub et des clips. Je pense que le spectateur est intelligent, qu’il comprendra le rythme du film. Je n’ai aucune raison de faire des raccords rapides dans mon film, surtout quand il traite de la vie de moines.

Xavier Beauvois, sur le thème de l’instrumentalisation de la religion à des fins politiques.

Aujourd’hui avec le débat sur la Burka, on a l’exemple même des politiciens qui se servent de la religion à de mauvaises fins. Il y a pourtant des problèmes bien plus importants, notamment concernant les sans domiciles fixes, les problèmes économiques, les agriculteurs au bord du gouffre. J’ai des amis musulmans qui sont réellement fatigués par ce faux débat, fatigués d’être ostracisés.

Comment montrer la grâce, donc ? La force du film est d’y répondre d’abord par des moyens purement cinématographiques : Des hommes et des dieux est d’une beauté plastique à couper le souffle. La grâce, c’est peut-être avant tout une question de lumière, celle qui tombe sur Saint-Matthieu dans la Vocation… du Caravage). Le film accumule d’ailleurs les références à la peinture religieuse italienne : on aperçoit ici une reproduction de la Vierge de l’Annonciation d’Antonello da Messina, là un Christ à la colonne de Caravage ; certains plans citent directement les tableaux de maître, tel ce soldat islamiste blessé traité comme le Christ de Mantegna.

Testament du Père Christian de Chergé

article dans sa langue originale


« Quand un A-Dieu s’envisage »

S’ il m’arrivait un jour – et ça pourrait être aujourd’hui – d’être victime du terrorisme qui semble vouloir englober maintenant tous les étrangers vivant en Algérie, j’aimerais que ma communauté, mon Église, ma famille se souviennent que ma vie était DONNÉE à Dieu et à ce pays.

Qu’ils acceptent que le Maître unique de toute vie ne saurait être étranger à ce départ brutal.

Qu’ils prient pour moi : comment serais-je trouvé digne d’une telle offrande ?

Qu’ils sachent associer cette mort à tant d’autres aussi violentes, laissées dans l’indifférence de l’anonymat.

Ma vie n’a pas plus de prix qu’une autre.
Elle n’en a pas moins non plus.
En tout cas, elle n’a pas l’innocence de l’enfance.

J’ai suffisamment vécu pour me savoir complice du mal qui semble, hélas, prévaloir dans le monde, et même de celui-là qui me frapperait aveuglément.

J’aimerais, le moment venu, avoir ce laps de lucidité qui me permettrait de solliciter le pardon de Dieu et celui de mes frères en humanité, en même temps que de pardonner de tout cœur à qui m’aurait atteint.

Je ne saurais souhaiter une telle mort.
Il me paraît important de le professer.

Je ne vois pas, en effet, comment je pourrais me réjouir que ce peuple que j’aime soit indistinctement accusé de mon meurtre.

C’est trop cher payer ce qu’on appellera, peut-être, la « grâce du martyre » que de la devoir à un Algérien, quel qu’il soit,surtout s’il dit agir en fidélité à ce qu’il croit être l’islam.

Je sais le mépris dont on a pu entourer les Algériens pris globalement.
Je sais aussi les caricatures de l’islam qu’encourage un certain islamisme.

Il est trop facile de se donner bonne conscience en identifiant cette voie religieuse avec les intégrismes de ses extrémistes.

L’Algérie et l’islam, pour moi, c’est autre chose, c’est un corps et une âme.
Je l’ai assez proclamé, je crois, au vu et au su de ce que j’en ai reçu, y retrouvant si souvent ce droit fil conducteur de l’Évangile appris aux genoux de ma mère, ma toute première Église, précisément en Algérie et, déjà, dans le respect des croyants musulmans.

Ma mort, évidemment, paraîtra donner raison à ceux qui m’ont rapidement traité de naïf, ou d’idéaliste :
« Qu’il dise maintenant ce qu’il en pense ! »
Mais ceux-là doivent savoir que sera enfin libérée ma plus lancinante curiosité.

Voici que je pourrai, s’il plaît à Dieu, plonger mon regard dans celui du Père pour contempler avec Lui ses enfants de l’islam tels qu’Il les voit, tout illuminés de la gloire du Christ, fruits de Sa Passion, investis par le don de l’Esprit dont la joie secrète sera toujours d’établir la communion et de rétablir la ressemblance, en jouant avec les différences.

Cette vie perdue, totalement mienne, et totalement leur,
je rends grâce à Dieu qui semble l’avoir voulue tout entière pour cette JOIE-là, envers et malgré tout.

Dans ce MERCI où tout est dit, désormais, de ma vie, je vous inclus bien sûr, amis d’hier et d’aujourd’hui, et vous, ô amis d’ici, aux côtés de ma mère et de mon père, de mes sœurs et de mes frères et des leurs, centuple accordé comme il était promis !

Et toi aussi, l’ami de la dernière minute, qui n’auras pas su ce que tu faisais. Oui, pour toi aussi je le veux ce MERCI, et cet « À-DIEU » envisagé de toi. Et qu’il nous soit donné de nous retrouver, larrons heureux, en paradis, s’il plaît à Dieu, notre Père à tous deux.
Amen ! Inch’ Allah.

ALGER, 1er DÉCEMBRE 1993
TIBHIRINE, 1er JANVIER 1994

Le testament du P. Christian de Chergé : article paru dans le journal La Croix du 6 septembre 2010

Christ à la Colonne
Le Caravage, 1607

Huile sur toile, 134,5 x 175,5 cm
Musée Des Beaux-Arts, Rouen

Tuesday morning saw the world debut of the French film Of Gods & Men, a movie that looked going in to be horrifically brutal and potentially controversial, but which reveals itself as a beautifully acted and directed work of uplift and inspiration.

It’s based on the true story of seven Christian monks from France, living amongst Muslims in the mountainous village of Tibhirine in the North African nation of Algeria. When tensions erupted between the Algerian government and rebellious Islamic fundamentalists in the early 1990s, resulting in numerous atrocities, all foreigners were told to leave the country: strongly advised to do so by the government, ordered to do so by the fundamentalists.

The monks refused and they were kidnapped by terrorists calling themselves the Groupe Islamique Armée. On May 30, 1996, the severed heads of the seven monks were found on a road near Médéa.

The temptation is great to paint this picture in stark shades of black and white, the bad Muslims vs. the good Christians. Beauvois and his screenwriters resist this, preferring to show how all humans are a mix of the spiritual and the venal, and of bravery and cowardice.

There are eight monks in this dramatic recreation of events, with a ninth joining them near the end. They are not a solid wall of piety and fearlessness. When terrorists murder a Croatian work crew stationed near the monastery, and a young village girl is stabbed in the heart for failing to wear her hijab, pressure builds for the monks to return to France. The government and army strongly urge them to leave, and a couple of the monks think that’s sound advice.

I didn’t come here to commit collective suicide,” one of them says.

But the monks perform an invaluable service to the village. They operate a free medical clinic, led by elderly sage Brother Luc (Michael Lonsdale), assisting as many as 150 needy people per day. They also represent peace and stability in a place where both are rare.

Head monk Brother Christian (Lambert Wilson) wants to stay, yet he is also keenly aware that he’s responsible for the safety of his fellow religious. The urgency of their situation is brought home when rebels invade the monastery one Christmas Eve, demanding medical care. The monks try to walk the middle path of treating all men as their brothers and providing care to all, but that brings accusations of disloyalty from all sides.

The villagers and rebels are likewise not homogenous groups. Some appreciate what the monks are doing, others resent it. There is no straight line to final judgment in Of Gods & Men, but there is a great deal of insight into the struggles that people endure in reconciling their concept of all-powerful deity with the weakness of human frailty.

The movie stays true to violent fact (thankfully, it’s mostly off-camera), but it also holds with the words of Brother Christian: “Remember that love is eternal hope.”

Here’s how good the acting is in this film. The two main actors, Wilson and Lonsdale, have both played villains in Hollywood blockbusters. Wilson was the sneering Frenchman Merovingian in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, and Lonsdale was Bond baddie Hugo Drax in Moonraker. Yet in Of Gods & Men, you never for one second think of them as anything other than men of virtue and faith.

The other strong Palme contender, revealed Monday night, is Certified Copy by the Iranian auteur Kiarostami, who shared a Palme d’Or win in 1997 for Taste of Cherry, his meditation on suicide.

Certified Copy is his first English-language film, although much French and Italian is spoken in it. The action takes place in a Tuscany village in southern Italy and it’s essentially a two-hander starring Juliette Binoche (this year’s Cannes poster girl) and Britain’s William Shimell, a famed operatic baritone turned actor.

Shimell plays the stuffy Brit author of a book examining the concept of genuine art vs. clever forgeries, suggesting that they both may be different branches of the same creative impulse. Binoche plays a French art gallery owner living in Italy, who ends up spending a day with Shimell’s character after they meet at one of his lectures.

The film’s title provides a clue as to writer/director Kiarostami’s views on the mercurial nature of love: can it always be believed, or even felt?

It is hard to describe Certified Copy without giving too much away. You could call it a romantic comedy. You could also call it romantic drama. The two characters constantly shift their personalities as the situation and their moods change.

Any number of conclusions can be drawn about their situation. I kept thinking of Alain Resnais’ puzzling couple in Last Year at Marienbad, although Certified Copy is considerably more colourful and accessible.

But only one conclusion can be made about the film. It’s a triumph for Kiarostami and his cast, and along with Of Gods & Men, worthy of awards consideration this coming weekend. Chances are good that you’ll also see both at TIFF in September.


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