Madeleine Davies

Archive for the ‘Films’ Category

The Sessions: Film review

In Films on January 24, 2013 at 4:32 pm

As an elevator pitch, The Sessions requires some work. Want to see a film about a guilt-prone 38 year-old Catholic confined to an iron lung who pays a sexual surrogate to take his virginity? We nearly lost the only male member of our group at the door.

Ninety-eight minutes later, he admitted he’d been “unexpectedly moved.”

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Of Gods and Men

In Films on March 7, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Living as we do in a largely secular society, martyrdom is an act that feels distant, frightening, alien. Dying for your beliefs is the stuff of classical drama, an act that has always posed difficult questions about morality and motives. In our horror of death and doubt about what lies beyond it, martyrdom can feel like a sort of stubborn nihilism, a morbid denial of the beauty of life on earth.

It remains a fascinating subject for film makers, but often in a historical context (A Man for All Seasons tells the story of Thomas More whose refusal to renounce his catholic faith results in his execution at the stake) or as an exploration of the dangers of extremism (Three Lions, Chris Morris’ black comedy about an inept gang of suicide bombers, presented its antiheros as tragically misguided, young men who ultimately falter before the enormity of the sacrifice asked of them).

Yet throughout the world people continue to die for their faith. This week Pakistan’s only Christian minister was assassinated after opposing the country’s blasphemy laws.

“As a Christian, I believe Jesus is my strength,” said Shahbaz Bhatti on a recent visit to Canada. “He has given me a power and wisdom and motivation to serve suffering humanity. I follow the principles of my conscience, and I am ready to die and sacrifice my life for the principles I believe.”

Such principled faith, lived out with integrity and courage to the very end, is incredible to us. But how to explain it?

What is clever about Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois’ film about a group of monks who choose to remain in an Algerian monastery despite the immediate threat of attack by Islamist terrorists, is that it combines depictions of the beauty of life and the longing to hold on to it with an exploration of the faith that can sustain people willing to sacrifice it.

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