One description of the film:
The film’s plot centers on the Catholic monks as they wrestle with whether to flee during a bloody conflict between Algeria’s army and Muslim jihadi insurgents, or to remain in their monastery from which they had ministered to their Muslim neighbors....Sony Classics aquired the rights to distribute the movie in the USA. It is scheduled for a limited release in Feb 2011.
The film focuses on the daily lives of the monks as they face the possibility of deadly violence....Beauvois, who also co-wrote the script with Etienne Comar, theorized that the monks’ deaths were the result of a blunder by the Algerian military. "The monks insisted on being extremely neutral, on not taking sides," Comar averred, "They called the terrorists ‘the brothers from the mountain’ and called the people from the army ‘the brothers from the plain.’ … It seems totally coherent for the movie to adopt their point of view."
The movie does not shy away from the violence of the conflict. Indeed, the opening scenes depict Islamist terrorists slitting the throats of Croatian construction workers - friends of the monks. The precariousness of the monks' lives is obvious and lends poignancy to their struggles over their faith as they remain at their monastery to help local villages keep both the Algerian military and Islamist terrorists at bay.
The men debate and pray, and cry out to God to help them keep their faith to accept their eventual decision to stay in Algeria even as their fate becomes clear. Finally, the camera zooms in on their eyes, those windows of the soul where their moral dilemma plays out.
A quick synopsis from Rome Reports: