Into Great Silence

I went and saw the film "Into Great Silence" (Die Grosse Stille) this afternoon. I went, barely knowing what the film was about, with no expectations.

I was the youngest person there.

Here is what the website says about the film:

Die Grande Chartreuse, das Mutterkloster des legendären Karthäuserordens, liegt in den Französischen Alpen. ›Die Große Stille‹ ist der erste Film, der jemals über das Leben hinter den Klostermauern gedreht wurde.

Stille. Wiederholung. Rhythmus.

Der Film ist eine sehr strenge, fast stumme Meditation über das Klosterleben in sehr reiner Form. Keine Musik, bis auf die Gesänge der Mönche, keine Interviews, keine Kommentare, kein zusätzliches Material.

Nur der Lauf der Zeit, der Wechsel der Jahreszeiten und das sich stetig wiederholende Element des Tages: das Gebet.

Ein Film, selbst mehr Kloster als Abbild.

Ein Film über Bewusstsein, über absolute Präsenz – und über Menschen, die ihre Lebenszeit in aller Klarheit Gott gewidmet haben. Kontemplation.

Eine Reise in die Stille.

Translation: "The Great Chartreuse, the mother house (main house) of the legendary "Karthauserordens" (Something House Orders), is located in the French Alps. "Into Great Silence" is the first film ever made to capture life behind the monastery walls.

Silence. Repetition. Rhythm.

The film is a very strict, almost mute meditation of monastic life in a very pure form. No music, except for the monk's songs, no interviews, no commentary, no extra material.

Only the passage of time, the changes of the seasons and the ever-repeating theme of the days: prayer.

A film, itself more monastery than documentary.

A film about awareness, about absolute presence-and about persons who in all clarity have yielded their entire lives to God. Contemplation.

A trip into silence."

My take on the film: I loved it and I did not love it. The silence is deceptive, because it is not truly silence-as-emptiness, but rather silence-in-prayer, and the stillness of the movie failed to capture the prayers I knew the monks were silently praying. As I was watching it, I longed to participate with the monks in these prayers, but was only given silence and visuals. It seemed like it would be more appropriate to bring a prayer rope or a rosary and intentionally allow the movie to be a call to prayer. I think that's what the monks would want.

I was struck with the pure joy exhibited throughout this film in the lives of the monks. That was beautiful. The scenery, too, was breathtaking.

However, I was also left feeling like I was a peeping tom, looking in at something holy and private. Like a gawker. This aspect left me a bit uncomfortable.

At one point in the film, the monastics were in Church, doing something Latin ina sombre Gregorian chant. I was fervently wishing there were subtitles of what was being sung. But soon, the camera shot changed, to focus in on the song book. I could decipher just enough Latin to recognize the Polyelios! Ah, I knew what they were praying! I pray those prayers, too! A connection.

Go see this movie. Take along a prayer rope or Rosary. Join in.


Anonymous said…
I heard that movie was supposed to be interesting.

BTW- You've been tagged.. by me!
Anonymous said…
Your comments are very interesting. I haven't seen this movie yet (I do plan to see it eventually). Almost all the reviews I've read of it have been positive, but none has mentioned this particular response that you had--"the stillness of the movie failed to capture the prayers I knew the monks were silently praying"--which, now that I read it, makes perfect sense. Thanks for sharing your insights.

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