Magazine April 18, 2011, Issue

Light of the World

Brother Christian (Lambert Wilson) (Sony Pictures Classics)
A review Of Gods and Men

If the Vatican Observatory were to begin broadcasting Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence–style signals into space, and the Catholic Church went looking for a single story capable of introducing to an entirely alien consciousness the essence of the Christian life, I can think of no better candidate than Xavier Beauvois’s luminous Of Gods and Men.

The film, which debuted in France last year and only recently arrived stateside, takes place almost entirely within the walls of a small Cistercian monastery, in the nearby village, and on surrounding mountainsides. The mountains are the Atlas range in Algeria, and the village in question is

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