The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures Classics - 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 123 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): French DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Starring: Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Olivier Rabourdin, Philippe Laudenbach,
Directed by: Xavier Beauvois
Written by: Etienne Comar
Region Code: A,B
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 5, 2011
"Based on a true story"
OF GODS AND MEN tells a story of eight French Christian monks who live in harmony with their Muslim brothers. When a crew of foreign workers is massacred by an Islamic fundamentalist group, fear sweeps through the region. The army offers them protection, but the monks refuse. Should they leave? Despite the growing menace in their midst, they slowly realize that they have no choice but to stay... come what may.
Loosely based on the life of the Cistercian monks of Tibhirine Of Gods and Men tells the story of eight French Christian monk who live in harmony with their Muslim brothers in the mountains of North Africa in the early 1990s. These men of faith live a life of peace, devotion and service to god and community. Their monastery overlooks the local village whose people rely upon them for medical treatment, guidance and friendship. Fear/tension begins to mount within the community as well as among the monks after a group of foreign workers are brutally murdered at their worksite by Islamic fundamentalists. Finding themselves caught between the terrorist group and local military the monks are faced with the decision to leave for their own safety or remain in service to the local Muslim community.
Prior to receiving Of Gods and Men for review I wasn’t familiar with this story. The film is based on the book “The monks of Tibhirine: faith, love and terror in Algeria”. It recounts the events surrounding a group of French trappist monks living a contemplative life of work and prayer when terrorist violence erupts nearby, sending ripples throughout the community. These men don’t want to abandon their “flock” but struggle with feelings of insecurity and fear. As fraternal men of Christian Faith each of them reflects on their calling and looks for strength in their belief. This is a compelling human interest story especially for those who follow the Catholic doctrine. Presented from a sort of fly on the wall perspective we see the conflict shared by these eight men as they face a supreme test of their faith in god and men. It is carefully told and profoundly affecting as it draws us in and slowly unravels the reality of their situation. This is a beautifully crafted film that uses cinematographic imagery and spiritual music as a mosaic. Equally stirring and genuine I found myself completely immersed in the marvelous performances by the cast. Of Gods and Men is a powerful dramatic film based on the real lives of eight men whose humanity, fraternal love, and Christian faith is put to the test. As a person of faith I found the story and the questions it raised to be thought provoking, moving and sadly disturbing.
The rating is for a momentary scene of startling wartime violence, some disturbing images and brief language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Of Gods and Men comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.7 mbps.
This a solid video presentation that offers excellent refinement during close ups and discernibly crisp definition within objects during mid level camera pans. The color range perfectly sets the film’s tone and has a reserved aesthetic that rarely offers bright, eye catching hues. Rendering is clean and depth is appropriate. Fleshtones keep pace with the look of the rest of the film and have a balmy but natural texture. Spot on contrast yielded crisp, bright whites and blacks are stable but slightly elevated which leaves them appearing less dynamic and occasionally flat. I didn’t see this as a problem based upon the visual style of the film. This is a pristine encoding that showed no obvious signs of video related artifacts or anomalies. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix features dialogue that is full bodied with defining tonal characteristics and prominent soundstage position. High level detail is readily apparent as subtle sound effects, music and voices are rendered with superior clarity and depth. There is little call for active surround activity and extended dynamics however there is frequent use of atmospheric sounds that utilize the entire soundstage in support of the beautiful vocal performances and exterior/interior venues depicted in the film. The end result is an excellent audio presentation that renders the soundtrack’s elements with aplomb.
*CIH users should not that the subtitles appear within the picture area*
- The sacrificed Tibehirine: Further investigation - 18 minute documentary (French)
- Merrimack College Augustine Dialogue with author John W. Kiser- 40 minute Q&A
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- BD-Live enabled
- Bonus DVD - Of Gods and Men
Loosely based on the life of the Cistercian monks of Tibhirine Of Gods and Men is a compelling dramatic film that tells the story of eight French Christian monks living a contemplative life of work and prayer when terrorist violence erupts nearby, sending ripples throughout the community and forcing these devoted men of the cloth to reflect on their humanity, fraternal love, and Christian faith. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in a technically solid offering that features resplendent high definition video, clear lossless sound and an average set of bonus supplements that are highlighted by a documentary on the film’s subject and people. Of Gods and Men on Blu-ray comes highly recommended and deserves a spot at the top of your rental queue.
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