Some filmmakers feel the need to be bombastic, others are able to create masterpieces with subtle, quiet films. "OF GODS AND MEN" is the latter. Based on the true story of 9 monks who were living in Algeria, focused on daily prayer, but moreso in doing their utmost to simply help their fellow Muslim neighbors with medicine, shoes and the necessities of daily life. Their faith as well as commitments are regularly placed in question, but this is amplified following the brutal, unprovoked killings of Croatian workers by Muslim fanatics. These same animals show up at the monastery demanding they be given all of the sparse medicine, reserved for unfortunate Muslim families, after some of the terrorists have been wounded.
A tense, powerful stand-off, of sorts, between Luc, the monk doctor(Michael Lonsdale in a restrained, masterful performance)and the main terrorist ensues, before they leave without incident. Still, the monks know that it's only a matter of time before these same terrorists or other Muslim nutjobs, return to kidnap or outright murder them.
They all must decide whether they will choose to leave for a safer location to carry out their calling, or whether to stay where they are for strong, equally important reasons. The discussion around this decision is powerful, authentic, and existential to a certain degree, but rooted in simple down-to-earth questions all decent people ask themselves. It's a great scene, but then, so many great scenes encompass "OF GODS AND MEN," making it a timeless masterpiece.
Who'd have imagined a foreign film, not generally well known, would receive such a stellar transfer? Well, that's what is here! The 2.35:1 aspect ratio is intact for this AVC MPEG-4 1080p blu-ray, and colors are flawlessly presented, vibrant or restrained, but always natural, depending on the time of year/season depicted. The detail is also staggering. Whether observing water from a well, clothing or the stones of village locales, virtually every scene brings the viewer in, as if they're watching what's presented inches away! The image is never flat and blacks are inky, retaining impeccable detail in even the darkest of night sequences. It's a reference quality image!!! Easily one of the best blu-ray images of 2011!!!
While "OF GODS AND MEN" doesn't necessitate an immersive sound environment, sound is an extremely fixture throughout the film. Whether it's used to shock, as in the tense killing of Croatians scene, with a helpless, gritty texture, coming across the speakers as these poor men are besieged by scum of the earth, or during quieter, reflective moments wherein monks are enjoying the less noisy but not necessarily "quiet" of their surroundings, this DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossy mix, serves what's been creatively designed, in a flawless, effective manner. Music is sparsely used, but when it is, it's incredibly powerful, and meant to serve a real purpose of authenticity within a given scene, as when the monks play part of Swan Lake at their final dinner together. It's a Brilliant use of sound! The dynamic range of the mix is amazing here and throughout, even though typically subtle. Dialogue is intelligible and free from distortion.
Extras include: a dvd presentation of the film, a featurette(standard resolution) exploring the actual people detailed in the film, and and an interview with John W. Kiser, responsible for the book about these brave monks. The original trailer(1080p) and other trailers are included as well.