I've just come in from watching the film "Of Gods and Men" over at St Brigid's Hall. It's strong stuff, telling the story of seven monks at a monastery in Algeria in the 1990s, caught up in fighting between terrorists and government forces. It won the Golden Palm at the Cannes Fim Festival last year, and I can see why. The story is told slowly, building up our understanding of what it's like in a Cistercian monastery, and how well the monks related to the local inhabitants.
The acting is superb - several people said they thought it was real monks acting! There is no background music for a change, and the cinematography and editing is brilliant. Some moments will stay with me for a long time, I think. The monks together in the chapel when they expect to die any moment; their agonising over whether to go or stay; one monk's clinging to a painting of the suffering Christ for strength and help; their final ascent into the unknown; and above all their last supper together, with the music of "Swan Lake" on the cassette recorder, some good cheese, and a glass of red wine. Absolutely magnificent. Fr M can't approve enough.