Daru (Viggo Mortensen) once served in the French army, but in 1954 he is running a small, remote school in the Atlas Mountains in Algeria. It is the eve of the Algerian struggle for independence when a French police officer knocks on his door , accompanied by a prisoner: the Algerian Mohamed (Reda Kateb) who is alleged to have murdered his cousin. Daru is asked to take him to another village where he will be tried and executed. The next day, Daru wants to release him but that turns out not to be easy because Mohamed’s family wants to take revenge against Mohamed. So the pair embark on the trek.
The majority of this ‘humanistic western’, as the director calls his film, consists of a long and dangerous trek through the Atlas Mountains. The landscape is just as mesmerizing as the music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. The bond that grows between the two men who are saddled with each other is nicely developed. The denouement, which refers back to the opening, is exceptionally strong. And Far from Men (Loin des Hommes) is more than an historic story or genre film. The clash between the European and Arabic culture is still topical. The film won three awards at the Venice Film Festival.