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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Of Gods and Men [Blu-ray]

 

(Xavier Beauvois, 2010)

 

Coming out in North America via Sony on Blu-ray - July 5th, 2011

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Why Not Productions

Video: Artificial Eye

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:02:20.041

Disc Size: 33,542,746,926 bytes

Feature Size: 28,607,895,552 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 11th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio French 1680 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1680 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 782 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 782 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• The Victims of Tibhirine - a Further Inquiry (19:25)

Trailer (2:08)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: A monastery perched in the mountains of North Africa in the 1990s. Eight French Christian monks live in harmony with their Muslim brothers. When a crew of foreign workers is massacred by an Islamic fundamentalist group, fear sweeps though 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. This film is loosely based on the life of the Cistercian monks of Tibhirine in Algeria, from 1993 until their kidnapping in 1996.

***

Men of faith find their pacifist beliefs put to the test in this drama from filmmaker Xavier Beauvois, inspired by a true story. Christian (Lambert Wilson) is the leader of an order of Trappist monks living in the hills outside Algiers. The community outside the monastery is almost exclusively Muslim, and the monks have worked to foster understanding between themselves and their neighbours; they observe Muslim traditions, are well versed in the Koran, and provide medical and charitable assistance to the townspeople. The monastery is an oasis of calm and peace as Algeria is caught up in a civil war, with forces led by Muslim extremists leading a bloody campaign against the nation's rulers. Christian and his monks do not wish to take sides in a conflict they believe is immoral; they refuse the protection of the military while also denying aid and comfort to the insurgents. The monks' efforts to remain outside the war, however, have ugly consequences when they're taken hostage by a band of Islamic revolutionaries.

 

 

The Film:

Though it takes place in the recent past, “Of Gods and Men” has an unmistakably timely resonance, evoking as it does both the messy wars on terror and the rebellions currently convulsing North Africa and the Middle East. And yet while it takes pains to be historically authentic, the film, closely based on the true story of a group of French Cistercian Trappist monks caught up (and ultimately killed) in the violence, also keeps an eye on less worldly, temporal concerns.

Courses on religion in cinema are a staple of the film studies curriculum, but movies that try to illuminate religious experience from within constitute a tiny and exalted tradition, in which Mr. Beauvois’s story of faith under duress clearly belongs. Its more-or-less recent peers include movies as diverse as Carlos Reygadas’s “Silent Light,” from Mexico, Philip Gröning’s sublime documentary “Into Great Silence,” Bruno Dumont’s “Hadewijch” and “The Apostle,” Robert Duvall’s acute and sympathetic study of the glorious contradictions of American Evangelical Christianity.

The eight monks in “Of Gods and Men” belong to a quieter tradition than Mr. Duvall’s spirit-stung preacher, devoting themselves to contemplation, service and humility. Their conversation is quiet, minimal and gentle, making the occasional spark of anger or glimmer of humor all the more notable. Ranging from sturdy middle age to elfin decrepitude, the monks spend their days tending bees, growing food and praying.

Excerpt from A.O. Scott at the NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Of Gods and Men from Artificial Eye has very strong detail and some notable depth as well as a greenish/blue hue that, not having seen the film theatrically - can only assume is a part of the original appearance as flesh tones are supported accurately. There is a lot of beauty in the film and the visuals support it well. This 1080P Blu-ray is a dual-layered transfer and has impressive sharpness.  There isn't a lot of grain - the image has some smoothness and there is some blockiness but it is easy to see this is an HD representation. Contrast (a factor in detail) is adept and the film (a touching masterpiece) was a memorable presentation via the Blu-ray format.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio has two lossless options (both in original French) - a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1680 kbps and a standard 2.0 stereo. There isn't an abundance of range or depth - but that is not part of the film's soundstage. It is clean and crisp ands seems a fine representation with some notable moments of subtle separation and even very audible dialogue. There are optional English subtitles. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

The Victims of Tibhirine - a Further Inquiry is a good historical/educational piece on the French Monks running 20-minutes. Plus there is a trailer but I would have thought the film deserved even more. Still the video is excellent to get a perspective on Of Gods and Men.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Facsinating film - that positively deserves an audience. It seemed to have been realized in a very personal fashion and I'd most agree with the sentiment of the National Post when they say 'Staggeringly beautiful and deeply contemplative...' . Artificial Eye's Blu-ray certainly gets an endorsement for exposing the film to a digital audience and transferring it in the highest quality format. I'd consider this a 'must-see' film experience. 

Gary Tooze

March 31st, 2011

 

Coming out in North America via Sony on Blu-ray - July 5th, 2011


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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