Explain how Des hommes et des dieux represents French cinema of its time and what social phenomenon the film reflects. What theme/main idea is being delivered by the film?

Des hommes et des dieux represents French cinema of its time by displaying a willingness to confront with controversial political issues. At the time when the film was made there were growing tensions between the tradition of French secularism and Islam. The main theme of the film is the possibility of harmony between those of different religious and cultural traditions.

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Des Hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men), the 2010 French film directed by Xavier Beauvois, deals with the true-life story of the murder of Trappist monks in the monastery of Tibhrine in Algeria. In the middle of a brutal civil war between the Algerian government and Islamic fundamentalist rebels, seven of the monks are rounded up and taken away to be killed. Although an Islamic fundamentalist group claimed responsibility for the atrocity, some have argued that soldiers from the Algerian army were actually the real culprits.

In any case, the film shows a growing tendency on the part of French filmmakers in the early part of the twenty-firstcentury to deal with difficult political issues. When the film was made tensions in French society between the tradition of secularism and Islam were becoming more apparent. Beauvois’s film quietly suggests how some kind of mutually respectful accommodation can be reached between those of different religious traditions.

Prior to their kidnapping and assassination, the monks of Tibhrine had managed to live in harmony with the Muslim population of Algeria. It was only with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism that it became all but impossible to maintain such good relations.

The monks’ senseless murder only serves to highlight the importance of those of different religious backgrounds respecting each other’s traditions. The atrocity also lays bare the tragic consequences that all too often follow when all meaningful forms of cultural interaction break down. That is the film’s overriding lesson, and one that continues to have relevance for French society today.

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