"My little job was to tell their story…"

The acclaimed film about the Trappist monks murdered in Algeria had a “monastic advisor” on set to give the movie the ring of authenticity.

Details, from CNS:

“Of Gods and Men,” the Cannes Film Festival grand prize-winning feature now debuting across the country, had a “monastic adviser” on the set to help faithfully depict the lives of the French monks whose story is at the heart of the movie.

Henry Quinson, who lived for six years at a Cistercian monastery in France, knew two of the monks portrayed in the film.

The subject matter is not typical for a movie: the lives of seven Trappist monks in turmoil-ridden Algeria in the mid-1990s. All seven were kidnapped in 1996 and ultimately beheaded.

“It’s very difficult for me to make a movie that would be cheap — the kind of movie that would only be about blood,” Quinson told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 18 telephone interview from Marseilles, France, where he lives. “It would be very far away from the spirit of the people I knew.”

Xavier Beauvois, who directed and co-wrote “Of Gods and Men,” approached Quinson after seeing his memoir on monastic life; Quinson had earlier translated into French an English-language book on the murdered monks.

Quinson said Beauvois e-mailed him asking, “I need someone to be with me on this movie. … When it’s written (in the script) ‘the monks pray,’ how are they dressed? What do they do? Do they sing? I need someone who knows the monastic life from the inside.”

Quinson, who had been considering making a movie himself on the French Trappists, agreed to help Beauvois.

“My little job,” Quinson said, “was to tell their story, … be faithful to the brothers, and reach out to as many people as we can.”

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Comments

  1. Terry Gross (NPR: Fresh Air) interviewed Lambert Wilson on February 22.
    http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=133278072&m=133935653
    The first 15 minutes are very informative about the filming of “Of Gods and Men”.
    To prepare for the movie, Lambert Wilson said that the actors spent 6 days at a Trappist monastery in France:

    “We spent a few days observing the monks, eating in silence with the other people who were going on the retreat, and then we started singing. And that was really the best preparation. We learned Gregorian chanting. We learned liturgical singing as a group. This is really what got this group of French actors together.”

    Between takes in the filming, instead of smoking or playing cards or talking on cell phones, the actors would start chanting. In fact, he said, they were singing all day.

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