I consider myself a good judge of quality film making and storytelling and this film is high up on my list of modern masterpieces. No matter your religious leanings or belief system, this is a marvelous film to watch. It is a literal going into great silence yet the lack of dialogue and sound is not a bad thing. In fact, it is what makes the story so poignant and enlightening. The subject matter, chronicling the Carthusian monks at the Grande Chartreuse monastery in France, dissolves into a charming and poetic cinema of light, shadows and above all, simplicity. It may not sound exciting, and actually it is not meant to be; nonetheless, it captivates you and pulls you in. I find it to be an engrossing and timeless film and I make an effort to watch it two or three times a year as a way to find inner silence and balance again. A MUST see and it is solidly in my top 10 all time favorite films list.
Zeitgeist Films presents a documentary directed and written by Philip Groning. In French and Latin with English subtitles. Filmmaker Philip Groning spent six months living among the monks of the Grand Chartreuse Charterhouse in the French Alps for his documentary "Into Great Silence." The filmmaker was granted unprecedented permission to film in 2002. This was not given lightly, for his request was put forth to the prior sixteen years earlier.
This is cinema at its purest and most exalted. It is hard to place into words a film, which is wrought in silence. For 162-minutes you will be allowed a glimpse of the ascetic strictness of the monks. I do not see this as a documentary, but an immersion into an entire way of life that will have no voiceovers or explanations. Just a small part of our time spent in transcendent meditation on the human pursuit of meaning, on man as a religious and social creature, on the form and function of symbols, ritual and traditions. And on the rhythms of work and prayer, night and day, winter and spring.
It is a beautiful film where everyone will take away something different and hopefully fulfilling. The film will not allow you to enter the world of the monks, but to just view it from the outside. You will see the day-to-day activities from season to season and be able to form your own opinions and conclusions. Many may at first experience impatience at the repetitions and variations encountered, but allow yourself time to adjust to the contemplative pace. And be witness to the ordinary moments that taken together are a representation of grace.
The Carthusian monks who are the subjects of this documentary do not have a great deal to say. Living in a light-filled stone charterhouse in a picturesque valley in the French Alps, they bind themselves to a vow not of literal silence but of extreme reticence. We view the daily lives, prayers and routines of this most ascetic of Catholic Orders founded in 1084 by Saint Bruno. The monks, because of their vow of poverty, subsist on very little. They pray aloud at times and sing solemn Gregorian chants, but they rarely speak, except on there Monday walks.
The monks in their rigor and discipline find their freedom and fulfillment. Your view on the monastery and our world will change as the movie progresses. And isn't that what a good movie or book is suppose to accomplish? It is a world of yesteryear as it existed one thousand years ago, where some modern technology has crept in, as you will see. In our modern world of moral decay this gives us a window to a traditional Catholic existence. A two thousand year tradition of following the Desert Fathers into a way of life that is rarely, if ever, seen.
I feel that this film is about the presence of God, a God who is there for those who seek Him with their whole hearts. In the film only a blind monk offers some simple but piercing observations on Christian happiness, abandonment to God's providential care, and the tragedy of the loss of faith and meaning in the modern world.
This film is not only for Catholics, it is for everyone in the world to see and benefit from.
I first watched this at home alone on a night last winter. I expected the usual documentary, with the monks going about their business and a hushed commentary voiceover. But I found that Great Silence is just what it means - the only sounds in the film are those occurring naturally. At the beginning, if the room is quiet enough, you can actually hear the sound of the snow falling on the camera lens. As the film went on, I turned out lights, put another log on the fire and watched with deepening peace and awareness. A remarkable experience. I did find that some of what they were doing was incomprehensible without commentary, and ended up buying more than one book about the Carthusians in order to fill in the blanks. If you like to meditate and have an interest in this lifestyle, this is the best film you can watch.
This movie is mesmerising. It's in French with English subtitles - but there's hardly any dialogue anyway. It's Into Great Silence. The Carthusians, when approached by the film-maker, told him it was not the right time and they'd be in touch in perhaps 10 or 13 years. Sixteen years later they contacted him and approved the doco. These are Christians who know how to wait on God and understand His seasons and times. They are locked into heaven.
A prophet I know taught that God's timing of this doco (it's the first that reveals this Order to world) was for teaching the modern church, in this day and hour, how to really "live in Christ" and to show modern intercessors what a real life of prayer looks like. A fundamentalist prophetic minister encouraging modern "prayer-warriors" to learn from ancient Catholic Monks is a good and strong endorsement - of the doco, of the Order, and of God's timing which the Carthusians seemed to understand.
The Monastery has been praying/living this way for 1000 years and the movie manages to portray their holiness - probably because their holiness is pervasive, even when they're "at play" in the snow. The cinematography is also beautiful. Anyone serious about Jesus needs to watch this.
This is a long contemplative film. It shows how the search for enlightenment is not boring or humiliating, but uplifting and joyous. A very well crafted film, beautiful to watch and very revealing. God calls all, but not all respond.