In 1996, in Algeria, eight French monks of The Monastery Notre-Dame de l'Atlas of Tibhirine have a simple life serving the poor community that was raised around the monastery. During the Algerian Civil War, they are threatened by terrorists but they decide to stay in the country and not return to France. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In researching the screenplay, director Xavier Beauvois spent six days living at the Tamie Abbey in Savoie. All the actors were required to do the same as well. See more »
When Luc leans against the painting, his face and left hand touch it noticeably higher in the close-up than during the preceding shot. See more »
Once they were gone, all we had left to do was live. And the first thing we did was - two hours later - we celebrated the Christmas vigil and mass. It's what we had to do. It's what we did. And we sang the mass. We welcomed that child who was born for us absolutely helpless and already so threatened. Afterwards, we found salvation in undertaking our daily tasks: The kitchen, the garden, the prayers, the bells. Day after day, we had to resist the violence. And day after day, I think each of us ...
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The plot of this film can be summarised as: Christian monks live peacefully in Muslim country, political situation changes, monks have to decide whether to leave or to stay. Boring, you may say, nothing happens, you may say and, in one sense you'd be right. But..... The point about this film is not the plot. What this film acknowledges is that the real drama of human existence is internal, the real action in our lives takes place inside of us and the real journeys that we make are in our minds and our souls. This is a film about relationships, between different communities, between individual members of the same community, between individuals and God and between individuals and themselves. This is a film about identity and place - two things we all have in common, like it or not. Personally, I found the religious aspect of the film intriguing. We live in a world in which religion is, again, being used to justify momentous acts. An analysis of how that works and what it means has to be relevant. But even if you are not interested by this, or are, as I know many people are, turned off by the mention of the words "religion" or "God" what the film does is to allow it's audience to begin to look behind these literal concepts at how the spiritual (whatever that might mean to you) functions in our daily lives. So, 9/10. 10/10 is very tempting but the film is not perfect. It would probably be boring if it was and a very definite recommendation. Oh, and by the way, it has some beautiful scenery, some stunning and innovative cinematography and some crackingly good looking men.
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