Thoughts on “Des hommes et des dieux” movie and a surprise movie!
BismiLlah al-Rahman, al-Rahim,
I love movies, who doesn’t? Tastes may vary from one person to another of course. I tend to rather go for the Cannes and Berlinale selection. Yes, I prefer critically acclaimed films than the popular ones. But that’s just me.
Anyways, in 2010, the Grand Prix award -the second best after the Palme d’Or- went for the French movie “Des hommes et des dieux” (Of Gods and Men) by Xavier Beauvois.
It tells the story of nine monks in a monastery in, according to Wikipedia, Tibhirine, Algeria.
Living peacefully among their Muslim “brothers and sisters” where they cure the sick and plant vegetables, suddenly they are threatened by (guess who?) Muslim terrorists who kill anyone who doesn’t follow their sect.
Refusing to rely on military help or going back home, they choose to stay and face the circumstances with “love as Jesus would’ve done”. Seven of them were assassinated by the extremists.
My first thought was : “Ha! Typical!” We realize quite obviously who the “Gods” are and who the “Men” are. It is a conflict between the Algerian government and the Muslim extremists. The monks just happen to be in the middle, refusing to adhere to either side, insisting on staying since they don’t want to “abandon” the villagers.
We see scenes where they are totally immersed in their rituals: choirs, prayers, planting, cooking. A nearly saintly life.
I was so upset that Western non-Muslims always portray Muslims as terrorists and “BinLadenists”, yada yada yada.
Until I found out it was a true story from 1996. Shocking.
So I just took a step back and said to myself, wait a minute, it’s been going for years now, it is only natural that they portray us like fanatics. Yes, they shouldn’t generalize all the Muslims, but where is the rest? Where are all the Muslims directors to tell the true stories from their side? Stories of our brave youth, men who fought injustice and corruption? Like for instance, the story of how Ahmed Oraby was supported by spiritual Muslims to defeat the English, or how Shaykh Abdel Qadir al-Jilani was the reason behind Saladin’s chivalrous behavior, or maybe even the story of Si Kaddour Benghabrit who hid Jews inside his mosque in Paris so they could escape the Nazi terror… Lots of movies to make there.
Have no fear, they will be told inch’Allah, all in due time. One of them is even coming out in theaters on Sept, 28th in France!!
“Les Hommes Libres” (Free Men) by Ismael Ferroukhi is the true story Si Kaddour Benghabrit’s (played by Michael Lonsdale who played a monk in “Of God and Men”) life risking decision to hide Jews inside the Mosque in Paris and give them false Muslim identities so they could escape the country from the Nazis. And guess what? It was part of the 2011 Cannes selection. I like that movie before I even see it!
Excited? I know I am!!