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Review: Wachters van de Atlas-Frere Luc, Moine de Tibhirine (2006)

Director: | 27 minutes |

The media – understandably – couldn’t get enough of it in the 1990s: the dramatic story of the Trappists living in peace with their Muslim fellow villagers in an Algerian monastery until a horrific act of terrorism put an end to it. The seven monks were kidnapped on the night of March 26-27, 1996 and after two months in prison they were beheaded. More than a decade later, the shock about this event has subsided somewhat, but thanks to the feature ‘Des hommes et des dieux’ by , in which the run-up to the terrible is portrayed in a sublime way, there is renewed attention to . . The film won the Grand Prix Award at the Cannes Film Festival and was a candidate for the Oscar for best foreign film. Before “Des hommes et des dieux” there was already a documentary that provided insight into the life and death of the monks. In “Des hommes et des dieux” the focus is mainly on Father Christian who fulfills the position of superior. The documentary “Guardians of the Atlas” (“Frere Luc, Moine de Tibhirine”) focuses on Brother Luc, physician.

Filmmaker Sylvère Lang chose to put only one of the monks in the limelight, because the running time would be too long if he paid attention to each of the brothers. In addition, he has an interesting protagonist with Brother Luc: the monk is 82 years old when he is kidnapped and has lived in the monastery since 1946 – the longest of all. The documentary looks back on his life, with archive photos and images, and short interviews with people who met or worked with him. It is engaging viewing material for those who want to learn more about the person and their calling.

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